There’s no telling what obvious pun might emerge as the next great fan experience

    If mound-charging aptitudeis a criterion teams use to decide which player to offer more money to in a couple of years, here’s an early breakdown.

    Game Youth Harry Carson Jersey Worthiness: Both players were justified in taking their anger out on the perpetrators of malicious fast balls. In fact, if Major League Baseball wants to curtail intentional plunkings, it should probably stop suspending the victims who decide to charge. Both pitchers had obvious intent.

    Ventura had a history of beaning batters, and caught Machado with one the previous season. In the game in question, he brushed back Machado twice in an at-bat, and then hit him with 99 mph on the first pitch of the following one.

    Strickland, apparently still salty over Harper hitting two home runs off him in the 2014 NLDS (but claiming it had nothing to do with it) also connected with a first-pitch fastball, this one clocked at 98 mph. It was far enough inside to leave no doubt, and Giants catcher Buster Posey standing still rather than slowing Harper said everything you need to know about how the pitch was perceived by Strickland’s own teammates.

    There’s no telling what obvious pun might emerge as the next great fan experience, as teams look for new ways to connect with their consumers. Here are a few ideas to harness the popularity of other MLB stars.

    Game Youth Brian Urlacher Jersey Pocket Full of Posey: Children 10 and under wearing Buster Posey gear hold hands and form a ring around a pocket full of seats behind home plate. Bashes, crashes, they all fall down whenever there’s a big play at the plate. Sure you’re giving up prime real estate at a ballpark always toward the top of league attendance, but with the Giants well out of contention, this could bring some enthusiasm to late-summer games.

There’s one more stipulation that could throw a wrench in things, too.

In the NBA, every team that doesn’t make the postseason has a chance at the No. 1 pick. That’s 14 teams, and this year the Boston Celtics have the top odds — thanks to a trade that landed them rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ pick — and a 25 percent shot at picking first. After the first three picks of the NBA draft are decided by the lottery, picks Nos. 4-14 are then established by the standings.

But with more teams on the outside of the playoffs in the NFL (20), the odds would likely be diluted and give the Browns an even smaller chance at the No. 1 selection. SB Nation’s Jason Kirk broke down how the NFL could set up a draft lottery — with the Browns receiving a 20 percent chance at the right to take Garrett.

There’s one more stipulation that could throw a wrench in things, too. In the event of two NBA teams finishing with equal records — something that occurs less frequently in the NBA, due to a 82-game schedule — they split the chances equally.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how a draft lottery could’ve been set up for the 2017 NFL draft:

Gronkowski’s new contract could make him the highest-paid tight end in the league if he’s able to hit that top tier. That surpasses Jimmy Graham, who earns $10 million per year.

While the two-time Super Bowl champion is considered the best tight end in the league, he isn’t the most durable. In his seven-year career, Gronkowski has played in just 88 out of 112 possible games due to injuries. He missed the second half of the 2016 season after undergoing back surgery for the third time since 2009.yankees_1093_abde32b67baa971d-180x180

Bears ink Victor Cruz to one-year contract

It may have seemed odd for the 49ers to give Garcon, who turns 31 in August, a five-year deal. He still has a good amount of his speed and quickness, but it was his tough route-running and impressive intangibles that were most attractive for a post-Washington reunion with Shanahan. The 49ers have been missing some basic reliability at wideout after moving on from both Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. Garcon will be a leader and a go-to outside receiver for Hoyer, with the natural transition to thrive with Cousins again.

Jeremy Kerley was useful in the slot as the team’s leading receiver last season, but by scheme and by necessity because of oft-injured Bruce Ellington, he may be called upon to line up outside as the only true veteran complement to Garcon. As for former Bill Marquise Goodwin, Shanahan will look to use his track-star speed in special packages, exactly as he did with Taylor Gabriel in Atlanta. The group may not be as prolific or pretty as that of other teams, but the 49ers did get better and grittier at wide receiver.

Victor Cruz is headed to the Windy City.

Limited Womens Willie Roaf Jersey The Bears have agreed to a one-year contract with the free-agent wide receiver following his release from the Giants on Feb. 13, the Bears announced Thursday.

Limited Womens Orlando Franklin Jersey Cruz, who had spent his entire seven-year career in New York, exploded on to the scene in 2011 when he caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. He followed that up with another 1,000-yard season, but injuries eventually made it impossible for him to get back on the field.

He missed the final 10 games in 2014 and missed the entire 2015 season. Cruz returned last year, but his production declined. He appeared in 15 games with 12 starts, catching 39 passes for 586 yards and one touchdown.

Bryce Harper leads Nationals past Phillies with walkoff home run

On the same day as signing a record-breaking extension, Bryce Harper proved his worth with a walkoff, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday to beat the Phillies 6-4 after trailing 4-0 halfway through the fifth inning.
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Opposing managers are faced with a tough decision late in games when Harper steps up to the plate: pitch to him, or give him a free pass to first base?

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin knew what he was getting into because Harper had already hit a walkoff home run against Philadelphia this season. In fact, Harper became just the second player in Nats history to hit two walkoff home runs versus the same team in the same season.

At 434 feet, it was also the longest walkoff in Harper’s career.

The Astros responded with five runs in the seventh to take a 6-2 lead, one they would not relinquish. Houston extended its AL West lead to 3 1/2 games.

Brewers slugger Travis Shaw broke a four-all tie with the Cardinals with two outs in the top of the 10th, blasting an estimated 414-foot, three-run shot off reliever Seung Hwan Oh (0-2). Shaw’s homer was long, but it wasn’t as deep as teammate Jonathan Villar’s estimated 450-foot blast in the third inning.

Authentic Kids Tedy Bruschi Jersey After a lengthy rain delay, the Phillies poured it on Cubs starter Brett Anderson for seven earned runs on seven hits in just 1 1/3 innings of work at Wrigley Field. The Phillies’ Aaron Altherr had two doubles and three RBIs before Anderson was pulled in the blowout loss.

Hopper left Clemson after the 2015 season with the intent to transfer

Williams is the oldest back on this list, and his retirement before the 2017 season would come as no surprise. The 11-year pro is, however, coming off two productive seasons as Le’Veon Bell’s backup in Pittsburgh. His situational running, superb blocking and veteran leadership combine to make him a still-viable option.

Mens Jake Muzzin Jersey The Ravens re-signed coveted defensive tackle Brandon Williams to a five-year deal worth $54 million with $27.5 million guaranteed, according to NFL Media. But they also added former Patriots and Chargers running back Danny Woodhead, as well as safety Tony Jefferson from the Cardinals.

The Ravens still have some holes to fill, especially after cutting pass rusher Elvis Dumervil and having running back Kenneth Dixon suspended for four games in 2017, but general manager Ozzie Newsome won’t rest on his laurels and coach John Harbaugh is among the best in the business.

Re-signing Williams, though, was the best move the Ravens could have made before next month’s draft.

Hopper left Clemson after the 2015 season with the intent to transfer. Although, he told Omnisport, Clemson created a family atmosphere for the players, Hopper had trouble remaining content with his football family.

He was suspended a couple of times and didn’t even clean out his apartment before leaving school. Clemson assistant Danny Pearman, who wasn’t available to comment for this story, actually collected Hopper’s belongings and drove them to his home in Charlotte.
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Hopper, 23, said he was immature and admitted to a lack of discipline, especially when it came to his academics.

That did not stop the Bengals from choosing him in the second round.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported only four teams in the entire league even entertained the possibility of selecting Mixon given his plea deal following an incident in which video shows him striking a female Oklahoma student in the face. The video of that circumstance became public in February. The NFL subsequently chose not to invite Mixon to the Combine.

That did not stop the Bengals from choosing him in the second round.

“In making our decision, we took a risk,” Brown wrote in an op-ed piece published Friday in the Cincinnati Enquirer. “In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside.”

What Brown fails to acknowledge is his gambles on the upside so commonly lead to the downside.

There were moments before that Bengals-Steelers playoff game when Brown’s misunderstanding of team dynamics took their toll on his organization.

The Ole Miss tackle didn’t have the steepest fall, just the most dramatic, downright cinematic — and that’s not a metaphor. It was a Twitter video of him inhaling marijuana, surfacing minutes before the draft, that scared teams off of him until the Dolphins grabbed him. Before the flurry of quarterback-focused trades, he was the consensus No. 1 pick.

Jack, the UCLA linebacker with the otherworldly skills and the incredibly suspect knee, was bypassed in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, even though he was one of the highest-rated players available. His freefall ended in Jacksonville at No. 36.nike_cardinals_314

MLB will take a significant step toward putting the DH in the National League.

The Cubs will not repeat as World Series champs. Sorry, Chicago. It’s hard to win back-to-back titles. It’s not happened since the 1998-2000 Yankees, and it’s not happening in 2017. Don’t get me wrong: The Cubs will be great, and likely flirt with 100 wins, but they won’t win it all. That’s because …

The MiLB automatic-man-on-second-in-extra-innings thing will be eliminated by June. This is a terrible idea. Seeing it practice will make it even more obvious. (Update: We saw it in action in the World Baseball Classic. Ugh.)
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MLB will take a significant step toward putting the DH in the National League. As I wrote recently, it’s time. If MLB really wants to make games more exciting, this is the most obvious change to make. The powers that be will realize this at some point during the 2017 season.

Yeah. He really said those things. Hey, look at how cleverly I can rip my best pitcher to pieces!

Kids Matt Elam Jersey Why? I have no idea. I cannot even manage a guess as to why Levine thinks saying those things is going to help Betances be a more productive player for the Yankees for the rest of his time in pinstripes (he’s under club control through 2019).

With the post-hearing public quotes, Levine comes off as a pissed boss, kicking an underling (and his agent) who dared challenge him just because he can. This all has a very know your place, kid feel to it, doesn’t it?

There was no putting just one man on this list Saturday with all the good games guys had. On a day of multi-homer games, four players had at least two home runs Saturday. Matt Kemp was the best. The 32-year-old went 3 for 5 Saturday with five RBIs, but more importantly, he tallied three home runs in the to lead the Braves to an 11-3 victory. It was the third three-homer game of Kemp’s career.

CC Sabathia backs up Adam Jones’ claims of racist insults at Fenway Park: ‘When you go to Boston, you expect it’

Orioles outfielder Adam Jones says he was the target of racial taunts Monday night during Baltimore’s game against the Red Sox, claiming he was called the N-word a handful of times by fans at Fenway Park. He isn’t the only African-American player who has dealt with such horrible treatment.
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It’s not a cramp, he said through an interpreter. It felt like a shock. I’ve had this type of injury before. This time it doesn’t feel as serious.

The injury likely means the Mets — who played Thursday without Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores — will make at least one roster move before opening a key series Friday with the Nationals at Citi Field.
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Any time you’re talking about a hamstring, it’s a concern, manager Terry Collins said. When you talk about a hamstring and a guy like that, with his muscle strength, you’ve got to be careful.

Cespedes (.263/.377/.632) is tied with Jay Bruce for the team lead with six home runs and has 10 RBIs. The Boston Braves signed Meau that year and assigned him to the Class D Bluefield Blue-Grays. His pitching accuracy helped him lead the team in wins, ERA and innings. Meau showed similar precision one day at the plate.

At face value, the ejection would make sense with all that’s been going on between the division rivals, not to mention a conference call before the game held by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and chief baseball officer Joe Torre with the managers and general managers of both clubs.

Manfred warned both teams that discipline is looming if the teams continue throwing at each other, Torre said told Fox Sports.

Texans will not win AFC South without Deshaun Watson as starter

The Texans say they will be comfortable if Deshaun Watson sits while Tom Savage starts in 2017.

Limited Womens Andrew Quarless Jersey Let’s hope Houston, which was desperate for a quarterback before the 2017 NFL Draft, did not move up from No. 25 to No. 12 for a rookie it plans to develop for a year.

Given the competition in the AFC South, the Texans would be smart to end any QB controversy and go all in with Watson as the starter. Anything else would be a mistake.

It won’t stop, though. The 2017 offseason is off to that kind of start already, and the first actual OTA whistle hasn’t blown yet. The NFL has flunked another English exam.

For what it’s worth, Henry reported for workouts last week, when he was done doing something that was nobody’s business but his own. Believe it or not, he showed up in great shape.

There is no problem with Derrick, his position coach Sylvester Croom said, according to the Titans website. The guy was in school, he is here now, and he is working. So we are moving forward from there.
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The Titans, players and coaches alike, and their counterparts around the NFL should have moved forward from this entire mindset long ago.

Now that even-year B.S. is officially dead, the Giants can look to start odd-year B.S. in 2017. A team with a good core, the Giants could probably use another bat in the outfield, as they didn’t make a move for one this offseason. Luckily, there will probably be more than enough bats available at the trade deadline, and the Giants should still be in contention for a playoff spot come July.

NFL’s new head of officiating hire is good news for Cam Newton

Alberto Riveron will be the NFL’s new head of officiating, the league announced Wednesday. Riveron was promoted to replace Dean Blandino as senior vice president of officiating.

Assuming Riveron carries over the traits that made him one of the NFL’s better on-field referees over the past decade, his hiring is good news for one NFL player in particular: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Minnesota sent Adrian Peterson packing, and then it saw its free-agent addition, Latavius Murray, deal with ankle surgery. The team was smart to go after Cook, once a mid first-rounder, at No. 41 overall.

The Vikings also didn’t forget to get Cook some much-needed run blocking help in arguably the draft’s top center, Ohio State’s Pat Elflein, in Round 3. Cook should be thrilled that his wait got him a chance to be the next AD.

The best cornerback not taken in Round 1 found a terrific home in Green Bay’s secondary, where it would be an upset, given his size and natural zone coverage skills, if he does not start as a rookie.

Sure, it was nice to get powerful home-run hitter Leonard Fournette at No. 4 overall, but it meant nothing without a physical hoss to improve the Jags’ chances of paving their way for him. Enter Alabama’s Cam Robinson to fill that void in a second-round steal at No. 34.

Like all officials, Riveron had his share of poorly called games and inconsistency — just much less of it. His propensity to call more roughing the passer penalties in relation to other refs at least erred on the side of protecting QBs.

One of Riveron’s assignments during his time as head referee, from 2008 to ’12, was Newton’s first home game as a Carolina rookie in 2011.

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