Tanaka? Paxton? Keuchel?! Handicapping Yankees' Opening Day starter

9:00 AM ETEmailprint

TAMPA, Fla. -- All winter, it was practically a foregone conclusion who'd be starting Opening Day for the New York Yankees.

Then, about 15 minutes prior to Tuesday's spring training game against the Braves, it became dramatically less certain.

Although an MRI of Luis Severino's right shoulder came back that afternoon mostly positive, only revealing rotator cuff inflammation, the Yankees were still forced to sideline the right-hander. He won't be making his long-expected start at Yankee Stadium on March 28 after all.

Who will be pitching in his place? While a front-runner appears to be emerging, there are others perhaps worthy of consideration. Here's a rundown of potential Yankees Opening Day starters and the likelihood they'll be handed the ball to start the season. [Vote for your favorite option here.]

Not in contention: Severino, CC Sabathia

While Severino could land on the injured list for a short stint at the start of the regular season, the Yankees are expecting to make a similar move with Sabathia.

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Judge rules against NCAA in antitrust lawsuit

10:05 PM ETEmailprint

A judge has ruled against the NCAA in a federal antitrust lawsuit, saying football and basketball players should be permitted to receive more compensation from schools, but only if the benefits are tied to education.

The ruling Friday night from U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, said the NCAA cannot "limit compensation or benefits related to education.''

The plaintiffs in the so-called Alston cases were seeking much more. Plaintiffs had asked the judge to lift all NCAA caps on compensation and to allow schools to provide benefits beyond a scholarship to college athletes.

The goal was to create a free market, where conferences set rules for compensating athletes, but this ruling still allows the NCAA to prohibit cash compensation untethered to education-related expenses.

The claim was against the NCAA and the 11 conferences that have competed in the highest level of college football.

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Sources: Gottfried directly linked to payments

9:56 PM ETEmailprint

Court filings in a federal criminal case involving college basketball corruption link former NC State coach Mark Gottfried to being the first head coach directly connected to impermissible payments to players, sources told ESPN.

According to a disclosure from federal prosecutors, former NC State assistant Orlando Early's attorney said his client disclosed that Gottfried on two occasions gave him envelopes -- containing what Early believed was cash -- to deliver to star guard Dennis Smith Jr.'s trainer to ensure he signed with the Wolfpack in 2015.

Smith Jr.'s trainer, Shawn Farmer, was supposed to deliver the envelopes to Dennis Smith Sr., the father of the five-star recruit, who is now a point guard with the New York Knicks.

According to sources, the allegations concerning Gottfried were included in a sentencing memorandum filed Feb. 12 on behalf of former Adidas executive James Gatto, who was sentenced to nine months in federal prison on Tuesday.

The information concerning Gottfried, who is now coaching at Cal State Northridge, is redacted in the sentencing memo that is publicly available.

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Broncos propose alternative to trying onside kick

9:28 PM ETEmailprint

NFL teams have proposed nine rule changes for 2019, including an intriguing alternative from the Denver Broncos to bypass the onside kick.

According to the Broncos' proposal, released Friday night by the NFL, each team would have one opportunity per game to remain on offense after a fourth-quarter score. Instead of kicking off, the team would line up at its 35-yard line for what is in essence a fourth down-and-15. If the team gains at least 15 yards, it maintains possession. If not, the defense takes over.

The NFL annually invites teams to propose rule changes, but the competition committee is charged with vetting and either endorsing or allowing them to stand on their own. Historically, owners defer substantial judgment to the committee, which is scheduled to meet later this month to finalize its recommendations for 2019.

Minnesota's Adam Thielen jumps on an onside kick in a game against the Eagles last season. A proposal by the Denver Broncos would provide teams with an alternative to the onside kick if approved by NFL owners. Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

Votes from 24 owners are required to approve any rule changes. The Broncos' submission reflects the increased difficulty of onside kicks under new kickoff rules implemented last season. In 2018, NFL teams recovered only four of 52 onside kicks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The new Alliance of American Football (AAF), which has outlawed kickoffs, offers teams the chance to convert a fourth-and-12 from its 28 if it is down by 17 points or more in a game, or if it is trailing by any deficit with five minutes or less remaining in the fourth quarter.

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Nick Saban talked new faces and a missing one

After the first spring practice for Alabama football, Nick Saban talked about all the new faces and the glaring absence of one much-needed player. Alabama football fans have to wonder how badly will the 2019 Crimson Tide be snakebit again. Last season it was an abundance of injuries at outside linebacker. The 2019 season is […] Alabama Football: Nick Saban talked new faces and a missing one - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Saban says Alabama is lucky to have Sarkisian

8:22 PM ETEmailprint

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban took issue with the criticism offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has faced for his brief time with the program during the 2016 season.

Sarkisian was initially hired as an analyst on staff but was elevated to offensive coordinator before the CFP National Championship when Lane Kiffin left abruptly to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic. Alabama lost to Clemson 35-31 in the title game after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half.

Not long after, Sarkisian surprised many when he left for the same position with the Atlanta Falcons. He was fired following the end of last season, and Saban brought him back to replace Mike Locksley, who became the head coach at Maryland.

Nick Saban came to newly hired assistant coach Steve Sarkisian's defense Friday, saying Alabama is lucky to have a guy who the Arizona Cardinals wanted as their offensive coordinator. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

"He did a really, really good job when he was here, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he did before he came here as an offensive coach," Saban said of Sarkisian, who was head coach at USC from 2014 to 2015, after Alabama's first day of spring practice on Friday. "And I don't think it's fair to criticize when he takes over a job one week before a game and has to go try to implement something because of the circumstance we were in.

"If you go look at the body of work at the Falcons, they were sixth in offense or whatever, so there has to be some level of expertise to allow them to do that. The players that I spoke to there really thought he did a good job and was a good coach."

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How will Arsenal and Man United respond?

2:53 AM ET

W2W4 previews the weekend's Premier League action by highlighting its most compelling storylines ...

Man United and Arsenal nursing different hangovers

Arsenal and Manchester United are both dealing with European hangovers of a different nature. Arsenal will have a day fewer to prepare after a 3-1 loss to Rennes in the Europa League, but it's the Manchester United players who will probably be more exhausted ahead of their game on Sunday. After Wednesday night's miracle/VAR-assisted win in Paris, the energy must be drained from the bodies and minds of the United players. The remarkable effort required to defeat PSG will ultimately be worth it, but there are short-term consequences: specifically, how well they will recover for their next test, a trip to face Arsenal, particularly given the number of injuries they will still have to cope with.

ESPN+ is America's home for a host of professional soccer leagues from around the world, highlighted by Italy's Serie A, Major League Soccer, UEFA Nations League and English FA Cup. | ESPN+ schedule

ESPN FC's experts ranked the best men's players and managers in world football. Check it out.

On Feb. 8, a fire at an uninspected youth dorm at one of Brazil's highest-earning clubs killed 10 young players. How?

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Spring Practice kicks off in T-Town

Alabama football hit the practice field for the first time Friday and based on who did and did not take part, and at what position, there is interesting news. On Friday, the revamped Alabama football staff put the 2019 Alabama Crimson Tide through practice session No. 1 of the spring season. Due to the school’s […] Alabama Football: Spring Practice kicks off in T-Town - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Source: Bennett reunion with Patriots possible

8:10 PM ETEmailprint

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There could be a Bennett brothers reunion in New England, with Michael set to join the team via trade and Martellus contemplating a return to football.

The Philadelphia Eagles have informed Michael Bennett that they are planning to trade him to the Patriots, the defensive end told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Friday. With that trade set to be finalized, tight end Martellus Bennett is interested in coming out of retirement to join his brother in New England, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Adding Bennett gives the Patriots an affordable rotation piece, and they remain in position to make a strong offer to the younger Flowers.

The Eagles would receive a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft and send Michael Bennett and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Patriots, a league source told Schefter. Philly.com was first to report that a trade was close to completion.

Bennett played in 16 games (10 starts) last season and totaled nine sacks. He has 63 sacks over his 10-year career.

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LSU suspends Wade indefinitely amid FBI probe

7:04 PM ETEmailprint

LSU has suspended men's basketball coach Will Wade indefinitely, the school announced Friday.

The decision comes a day after reports that FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between Wade and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, in which Wade expressed frustration about his inability to close what he described as a "strong-ass offer" for a recruit.

"Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to us all," read a statement from LSU president/chancellor F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva. "As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address the situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter.

FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between LSU coach Will Wade and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, in which Wade expressed frustration about his inability to close an offer for a recruit, sources told ESPN.

"All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim coach."

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Club cannabis: Will other leagues copy the NHL?

Mar 7, 2019Emailprint

Player X is in the NHL. After home games, he has a routine. Typically, he'll meet a few teammates at a local restaurant for a late dinner. He likes to order steak after games -- medium rare, with a side salad and mashed potatoes. Then he'll go home.

Player X sometimes has a hard time unwinding; it was a day of unbounded stimulation. He woke up and arrived at the rink for a morning skate and meetings, went home to nap, returned to the arena for warm-ups (bright lights and eardrum-blasting music), then exerted his body for 20-something sub-one-minute shifts during which he shoves, sprints, reaches, shoots, gets hit and sometimes bleeds on the ice. By the time he gets home at night, he needs something to ease the process of getting to bed. So he'll often reach for his weed pen and take a few hits. "Just to relax," he says. "Honestly, it's the easiest and most natural way for me to fall asleep and be ready for the next day."

Because Player X is on a Western Conference team based in a state in which there are broad laws legalizing marijuana, he knows he's not doing anything wrong. Actually, he's doing what he estimates thousands of others who live in his city do every night as well.

And because he plays in the NHL -- and not, say, the NFL, NBA or MLB -- he knows he won't be punished.

Evolving views

Society's views on marijuana are evolving -- fast. On Oct. 16, Canada became the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. Coupled with results from the midterm elections in the United States, this is the landscape: Of the 31 teams in the NHL, 28 play in states where players have access to legal marijuana, whether it is for medicinal or recreational purposes. That's the highest percentage (90.3) of any of the major four North American pro leagues, but hardly an anomaly.

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Barnwell's free-agency and trade grades: Tracking every big move

5:40 PM ETEmailprint

Welcome to 2019 NFL free agency. I'm grading the most notable offseason moves -- signings and trades -- below, so come back throughout the month for updates as deals get completed.

The most recent grades and write-ups are at the top, and the first grade goes all the way back to Feb. 7, when the Cardinals added cornerback Robert Alford.

Keep in mind that I'm not grading deals until we get a clearer picture of the money involved. So if you don't see a grade for a deal that has been reported, check back in later.

Jump to a big move:NYG-CLE trade | DEN-WSH trade | OT Smith | S Weddle

Friday, March 8

The deal: Two years, $12.5 million with $5.25 million guaranteedGrade: B

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Alabama Basketball: Tide B-Ball fans should be happy about one thing

College basketball is under duress from a widening FBI investigation. As a result, the NCAA is forced to act. Alabama basketball coach, Avery Johnson has kept the Tide clean. Probably not many Alabama basketball fans are closely following the FBI investigation into college basketball. The Crimson Tide program has not been implicated in any wrongdoing. Former […] Alabama Basketball: Tide B-Ball fans should be happy about one thing - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Smith Jr. goes for his first world title against Bivol

3:37 PM ETEmailprint

VERONA, N.Y. -- After light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. -- a former construction worker -- had a breakout year in 2016, he appeared headed to a world title fight.

After all, he had scored a major upset with a stunning first-round knockout of contender Andrzej Fonfara and followed it with an even bigger win in the encore when he sent legend Bernard Hopkins into retirement by knocking him clear out of the ring in an eighth-round knockout victory.

And then he appeared on his way to defeating contender Sullivan Barrera in his next fight when he dropped him in the first round. But Barrera got off the deck, broke Smith's jaw and went on to win a unanimous decision in a fight Smith somehow managed to go the distance in despite a brutal injury that sidelined him for 11 months.

But after returning for a quick first-round knockout win against journeyman Melvin Russell in June, Smith is finally getting the opportunity to fight for a world title that he has dreamed about. He will challenge Dmitry Bivol for his 175-pound belt in what many predict will be a fan-friendly fight Saturday (DAZN, 7 p.m. ET) at the Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Light heavyweight world titleholder Dmitry Bivol defends his belt against Joe Smith Jr. on Saturday in a fight that might be his last in the weight class.

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Six Tide players could surprise this spring

As Alabama football Spring Practice begins, look to these six lesser-known players to step up and elevate themselves into key roles for 2019. With only 13 starters returning on offense and defense, Alabama football offers many opportunities for lesser-known players to earn key roles. The six Crimson Tide players discussed below could make a big step […] Alabama Football: Six Tide players could surprise this spring - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Emmitt Smith's son EJ Smith lands offer from Alabama

Emmitt Smith was one of the most dominant running backs in NFL history, and his son EJ Smith is following in dad’s footsteps.

The four-star running back out of Jesuit High School shared on his Twitter account Wednesday that he received an offer from Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Emmitt’s son has also landed scholarship offers from big-time programs like LSU, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and USC.

Ranked the 96th overall player (247Sports Composite) for the 2020 recruiting class, Smith sure does look the part of a dynamic playmaker.

Clearly, the biggest programs in the nation are following his progress closely. It won’t be long before EJ Smith is doing his thing on national television every Saturday.

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Alabama WR Henry Ruggs reportedly ran 4.25-second 40

Henry Ruggs won’t be among those entering the NFL draft this April, but next year when he comes out of Alabama, his blazing speed will have him on everyone’s radar.

According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, Ruggs wowed NFL scouts during ‘Bama’s pro day, which took place on Wednesday.

“I’ve heard that NFL scouts timed Ruggs, who had 11 touchdown catches for the Tide last season, in the 4.25 range in the 40-yard dash,” Zenitz wrote.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that these scouts were hand-timing the runs on Wednesday, and that the NFL Scouting Combine uses laser timing. Regardless, that’s a crazy 40, and his speed shows up on tape regularly, too (like this).

Last year as a sophomore, Ruggs hauled in 46 passes for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

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2020 NFL Mock Draft loaded with Tide first-rounders

In a way too early 2020 Mock Draft, nine Alabama football players are slated as first-round selections. The NFL first-round record is six. Why are we discussing Alabama football players and the 2020 NFL Draft? Normally a Mock Draft so far out would not get much attention. If current projections hold true for the 2019 […] Alabama Football: 2020 NFL Mock Draft loaded with Tide first-rounders - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Breaux & Gentry Shine: Alabama baseball takes two mid-week games to move to 12-2

Coach Brad Bohannon and his Crimson Tide baseball team improved to 12-2 this season with victories on Tuesday, over the Birmingham Blazers , and Wednesday over the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

Although happy to claim the wins, Bohannon was not entirely pleased with his team’s performance. Both games should have been out of reach early, but late inning woes led to angsty victories. Birmingham scored two in the top of the ninth, and had the tying run aboard before Jeremy Randolph shut the door on the Blazers. The South Dakota State team showed a ton of fight to score three times in the ninth to tie the Tide at four each. The teams battled through 14 innings before Bama could plate the winning run. Alabama defeated Birmingham 4-3, and prevailed over SDS 5-4 in extra innings.

Game One: Won 4-3

Birmingham brought a 9-3 squad to town on Tuesday to battle the Tide. The game was originally scheduled for 5 p.m., but because of the cold snap that hit the state, was moved to 3 p.m. Bama has only played four games this season at the originally scheduled time because of weather.

Left-hander Garrett Rukes got the start on the mound for the Tide and pitched three outstanding innings, allowing three singles, with no runs, no walks, and three strikeouts over his 40 pitch stint. Bama dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when John Trousdale led off with a double, advanced on a Jeaux Breaux single, and scored on an RBI fielders choice by Brett Auerbach. Tyler Gentry singled Auerbach in for the other run in the frame.

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Alabama Basketball: Latest NCAA Bracket updates show beat Hogs or NIT

Alabama basketball teeters on the edge of the NCAA Tournament Bubble cliff with toes on the ground and heels hanging over the edge. On the day after another Alabama basketball collapse, the Crimson Tide is hanging on to a possible NCAA at-large bid. So say credible bracketologists or some of them anyway. Maybe a better […] Alabama Basketball: Latest NCAA Bracket updates show beat Hogs or NIT - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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