Justin Smoak cracks MLB’s 1,070th home run in June, breaks baseball record

It’s not Smoak and mirrors.

As a matter of fact, Justin Smoak is on his way to an All-Star berth, and he made sure everyone knew it with his 22nd dinger of the year. Not only did he extend his career-best homer tally, but the mash broke MLB’s single-month home run record.

The 30-year-old Blue Jays first baseman is having his best year as a big-leaguer, hitting .299 with 22 home runs and a .960 OPS, tallying in his early at-bats on Friday. Smoak, originally a Ranger, has played with the Mariners and now the Jays in his career.

Still, conspiracy theories remain: Is MLB winding the baseballs tighter? Or is there something less nefarious at work here? Such as launch angles, exit velo, and all the other sexy Statcast stuff MLB is starting to push now.

So maybe Carmelo Anthony is ready to team up with one of his Banana Boat buds. That was the word early Monday from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported that sources told him Anthony is now willing to waive his no-trade clause for a move to the Cavaliers (where he’d finally get to play with King James) or the Rockets (where he’d get to play with Chris Paul but also for Mike D’Antoni).

Woj reported the Knicks probably wouldn’t be able to get much in return for Anthony, who’s, um, steering this boat. New York doesn’t want to take back power forward Ryan Anderson in a trade, Woj added.

Just last week, Anthony’s estranged wife, La La, said Anthony didn’t want to leave the Knicks because he wanted to be close to his son. What has changed, other than Phil Jackson being forced out of the Garden? Like most of this Melo drama, that’s not clear.

The Raptors are in trade discussions with the Pacers that involve sending guard Cory Joseph to Indiana, according to ESPN. Joseph, 25, averaged 9.3 points per game last season.
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We’re doing so many things to help speed up the game

Authentic Steve Bartkowski Jersey The only thing you need to say about him is that he’s a champion and he knows what it takes to win, McCants said of Mahorn, who won an NBA championship in 1989 while playing for the Pistons, and was part of two WNBA championship teams as an assistant coach with the Detroit Shock.

USA Today caught up with West on the eve of his 5,000th game and picked his brain about all things baseball. Here are a few of his best takes:

On pace of play: We’re doing so many things to help speed up the game, but I can’t do anything about that commercial time. But as much as we want to complain, it sure pays a lot of bills.

The worst rule in baseball: The DH. It’s horrible. It was supposed to be an experiment to help increase attendance in the American League, and now it’s ruining the game.
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A pitch clock in 2018? I don’t like it. I don’t think you can take away a pitcher’s ability to get himself ready at his own pace. Instead of a pitch clock, let’s get rid of all of the walk-up music. Players wait like it’s a Broadway play before they come out to the plate.

Greatest hitters: Barry Bonds was the best left-handed hitter I ever saw, and Albert Pujols was probably the best right-handed hitter.

Biggest complainer: It’s got to be Adrian Beltre. Every pitch you call that’s a strike, he says, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, ‘That ball is outside.’

I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.’

Luke Walton downplays LaVar Ball’s claim about Lonzo Ball leading Lakers to playoffs

Lonzo Ball is finally a member of the Lakers, which means his father, LaVar, will continue to be his son’s biggest cheerleader. Sporting a purple and gold Big Baller Brand hat on draft night, LaVar Ball told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on the telecast that his son will carry L.A. to the NBA Playoffs next season.

Considering the Lakers have held the No. 2 pick in the draft for three years straight, and finished with the third-worst record in the league a season ago, this is a pretty bold and ridiculous claim. But that can be said about pretty much anything that comes out of LaVar Ball’s mouth. And that’s why Lakers coach Luke Walton had no problem downplaying LaVar’s comments after Thursday’s NBA Draft.

While Torres is expected to be ready for spring training, Girardi says the way in which he was injured shows the unintended consequences of baseball’s anti-collision rule.

It just seems like players are forgetting how to slide today, Girardi told reporters Tuesday (via ESPN). I think slides have become a lot more creative at home plate because catchers don’t block the plate, and now I’m starting to rethink the rule, thinking the baserunners are the ones really at risk here because you see more guys slide in headfirst than ever before.

They see a corner of the bag. They think can manipulate their body to score the run. And every time I see a guy slide headfirst, I cringe, just because you worry about the hands, you worry about the shoulders.

Limited Preston Brown Jersey Ironically, Torres’ injury sliding headfirst came the same day the Cincinnati Reds unveiled a Great American Ball Park statue depicting Pete Rose in his iconic headfirst slide. Girardi is clearly not a fan of that type of slide, and the Yankees aren’t the only team dealing with a slide-related injury; reigning AL MVP Mike Trout is on the DL after tearing a thumb ligament sliding headfirst in a game May 28.
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The only thing that would work is if baseball came out and said headfirst was illegal, Girardi said, because you’re asking someone to take the competitiveness out of them that helped them to get to that point, and that’s not going to happen.

the Vikings moved back into the first round to get their franchise quarterback

Remember when these two teams met back in 2015, the MVP was not Curry or Thompson. It was Andre Iguodala, and while it’s unlikely that he will repeat that feat, he will be under the same level of pressure that he was in that series. He will draw the assignment of holding off James for large chunks of each game, and he is one of the few in the league that has the combination of strength, quickness and smarts to do a credible job on that front.
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But not all of the players in the NBA Finals were viewed as top prospects coming out of high school, or even college. James, Irving, Love and Durant were ranked as top-three players in their respective recruiting classes and have lived up to, if not surpassed, the hype they received as high schoolers. However, others have taken major steps in their development since high school and college, to varying degrees, such as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, who have become a two-time MVP and an NBA All-Star, respectively.

Here’s a breakdown of how the players in the finals were ranked as high school recruits and how their draft stocks were valued entering their respective NBA Drafts. Some players’ information may not be available if they were international prospects or played high school/college basketball before comprehensive scouting reports existed online.

After grabbing Barr with the ninth overall pick, the Vikings moved back into the first round to get their franchise quarterback. Bridgewater mostly lived up to his billing as an efficient, if limited, passer, leading the Vikings to a division title in 2015. Hopes were high entering his third season.

Game Mens Rashard Robinson Jersey Then tragedy struck. During last year’s training camp, Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury that wiped out his entire 2016 season. There are doubts that he’ll even be ready to return this year, a fact the Vikings tacitly admitted by trading a first-round pick for Sam Bradford last September. Who knows what kind of player Bridgewater will be when (or if) he comes back.

Charles Barkley trolls himself while congratulating Warriors

The Warriors made Charles Barkley look foolish all season.

The NBA analyst, who was often Golden State’s biggest critic, has finally admitted he was wrong — sort of.

“Hey Dub Nation, this is Charles Barkley. I told you guys a jump-shooting team would never win the championship. I was right. Now you’ve won two. Congratulations, Dub Nation, on another championship.”

Oklahoma City — T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA. There has been chatter that Leaf and the Thunder have a mutual affection, but by draft night, teams like Miami, Portland and the Hawks will have had a look at him, so there’s a chance OKC won’t have the chance to pick a stretch-4 like Leaf here. But if he’s available, the Thunder would likely scoop him up.

Brooklyn (from Washington) — John Collins, F/C, Wake Forest. The Nets simply need to add talent wherever they can find it, and they will get some value here. Collins is a productive, back-to-the-basket big man who would have been a sure lottery player five years ago. But there’s still a question as to whether he can stretch his game out to the 3-point line.

Instead, it’s clear by this deal that Ainge believes there are at least two other players in a similar tier to Fultz. He may have had Fultz at the top of his board, but not quite as far ahead. That made it worthwhile for the Celtics to pick up another potentially tremendous asset while still getting a player they consider to be on Fultz’s level.redskins_006

Kevin Durant vows to be back with Warriors for 2017-18 season

Regardless of whether Golden State wins the 2017 NBA title, Kevin Durant has no regrets about his decision to sign with the Warriors last summer, and he plans to be back on the team next season.
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Rene Robert Authentic Jersey I made the 100 percent correct decision, win or lose, Durant told The Undefeated on Sunday, when the Warriors held a 3-0 lead over the Spurs in the Western Conference finals. I feel like this is the place I was supposed to be. I appreciate everything I’ve done before this. But I’m here now, and I feel like it’s a great spot for me to be.

Four bookmakers had the Warriors favored, from as high as minus-8 at the MGM to minus-3 at the Wynn in a potential matchup. Much like the LeBron-MJ debate, a matchup between the Warriors and the 1995-96 champions features different styles of play: The Warriors with a run-and-gun mentality vs. defensive-minded Bulls squad with a methodical offense.

Interesting hypothetical from @Westgate_LV: 2016-17 @warriors would be 6.5-point favorites against MJ-led 1995-96 Bulls on a neutral court.

There are also different rules between the two eras, which play into the Warriors’ favor, according to Matthew Holt at CG Analytics.

The biggest factor is what rules is game being played under, Holt told ESPN. Being able to hand check would make the Bulls favorite and their roster was built for that. In the no-hand check era the Warriors’ current roster is much better suited and would have some serious speed and shooter advantages at several key positions.

NBA Finals 2017: Tristan Thompson, David West have close encounter in Game 5, and Twitter reacts

Tristan Thompson and David West came face to face in an altercation that resulted in technical fouls for each player during the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday.

Pausing video of the encounter at exactly the right time produces an image of Thompson and West getting close — very close — to each other. As Twitter does, people started sharing their thoughts on the moment.

Elite Mens Allen Barbre Jersey Philadlephia (from Boston via Brooklyn) — Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington. The Sixers take the plunge on Fultz by trading away the No. 3 pick this year and another pick in either 2018 or ’19. Fultz will give the Sixers the backcourt scorer they’ve desperately needed, and they feel his ability to play off the ball will fit nicely with forward Ben Simmons, who will be a rookie this year, too.

L.A. Lakers — Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA. There’s enough smoke around the heated rumors suggesting that the Lakers had second thoughts on Ball and decided to look elsewhere to think that there’s some fire to them. But it appears that there is merely some internal questioning about whether to make Ball the pick here, and that Ball is still in the mix, along with Jackson and De’Aaron Fox. And by draft night, when the smoke clears, the bet here is that Ball is the pick.
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Well, that was fast. After a Thompson 3-pointer, the Warriors lead 47-35. It’s a 7-1 run to start the second quarter for Golden State. (Note: All of this occurred with James on the bench.)

Green earns his third personal foul only ten seconds into the second quarter. Kerr likely will leave him on the bench for the rest of the first half. Let’s see how the Warriors respond, particularly on defense.

The Reds are awesome with a great fan base and great ball park.

Gunter, an undrafted second-year cornerback from Miami, held his own against Jones. Jones was targeted five times and Gunters tight coverage was a factor in each of Ryans two incompletions when throwing to Jones. In both cases, Gunter had help with safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix over the top.

Jones, who had 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season, had some success last Saturday against the Seahawks. He caught six passes for 67 yards and a score while being shadowed for most of the game by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

Jones7-yard touchdown against the Seahawks was the same play the Falcons ran against Green Bay for Sanus game-winning score. Only instead of Sanu outside, it was Jones ducking underneath to catch an uncontested pass.

The Reds are awesome with a great fan base and great ball park. I’m excited.

Lewis is a 6-2, 188-pound shortstop from JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and is perhaps the most complete position player in the draft. He’s a power-speed player who hit.388 with four home runs and 25 stolen bases as a high school senior.

Vanderbilt pitcher Kyle Wright was also considered an option before he surrendered seven runs on eight hit’s in 6 2/3 innings in Saturday’s 9-2 loss to top-ranked Oregon State in the Super Regionals. Wright is a 6-4, 220-pound right-hander who was 5-6 with a 3.40 ERA this season. Wright, undrafted out of high school, was selected fifth overall by the Braves and will join former Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson in the organization.

Signability could be an issue, but the Twins have over $14 million in their bonus pool for the first 10 rounds, and can allot up to $7.7 million to get Lewis under contract. The Twins also hold the 35th and 37th overall selections. falcons_021

Roger Goodell trolled for avoiding AFC title game

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Roger Goodell won’t be in Foxborough this weekend to watch the Patriots and Steelers play in the AFC Championship Game. Instead, the NFL commissioner plans to be in Atlanta for the Packers and Falcons NFC Championship Game.

Goodell has not made an appearance at Gillette Stadium in two years, since Deflategate, and the internet thinks he’s a coward.

I dont really know where its at today, Fassel said Monday afternoon. I hope to get a chance to talk to Kevin and Les about whatever they want to talk about whether its a head coaching interview or whether its an information gather on where I see the team headed and where it needs to head to become what we want it to become. So, whatever you want to call it, I would very much welcome the opportunity to sit down and just have a good football conversation about, from my perspective, what I think its going to take for the Rams be an NFC West division champ.

I talked to Kevin a few days ago, a few days before the game, and he said to keep Monday evening, Monday night available to talk about the job and the future of the Rams. It was a little bit open-ended, but I looked at it as just an opportunity to talk football, especially since its fresh in our mind, as far as what went right and what went wrong and how we fix what went wrong. I hope we get to talk a little ball.
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As for those Rams assistants, defensive line coach Mike Waufle is one of the league’s most respected position coaches and won’t be unemployed long.

The Rams’ first season back in Los Angeles was beyond disappointing with a 4-12 record and seven straight losses to close the schedule.

Demoff sent a letter to season ticket holders on Monday telling them the Rams will begin interviewing head-coaching candidates on Tuesday. One of those candidates is expected to be Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

Steelers’ Bud Dupree says he was fined for brutal Matt Moore hit

Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree was indeed fined for his nasty hit on Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore last week, ESPN.com reported.

According to Dupree, he hasn’t seenthe dollar amount yet, but he plans to appeal the fine.

ESPN also reported that the fine is$18,231, standard for a first-time roughing the quarterbackcall.
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Moore was hit by the crown of Dupree’s helmet in the chin area, causing his head to snap to the side. He leftthe field after a few minutesbut missed onlyone play as a result of the hit.

Moore returnedto the game, but the Dolphins eventually lost, eliminating Miami and sending Pittsburgh to the AFC divisional round.

Moore said after the game he felt like hedidn’t sustain a concussion, but the NFL andNFLPA are investigatingwhether the league’sconcussion protocol was followed.

A month later, the Generals were voted the AFA’s national champions of minor league football; Jamie King became the Minor League Coach of the Year. But the moment he had looked for all his life happened just moments after that final game. Frank King, who along with Jamie’s mother had watched the game from inside their car, was presented the game ball.
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Frank, then in failing health, accepted it from Mark Moseley, thanking the team and promising the ball would stay with him always.
It had, for all intents and purposes, done everything I’d always hoped to in one gesture, Jamie said. That’s why we called it ‘A Game Ball for Frank.’ It definitely for me was the one thing I did that was right. It brought it full circle.