The Cardinals have been a giant ball of frustration this season

Why they’re here: The Rays are the forgotten team in this year’s playoff race, but they made quality additions at the trade deadline — Lucas Duda hit three home runs in his first four games with the Rays — and they have a lineup that can slug with anyone. The rotation, headed by Chris Archer, can be very good if Jake Odorizzi comes back healthy and Blake Snell ever figures out his control issues. They’re only 7-10 since the All-Star break, though.

Why they’re here: The Cardinals have been a giant ball of frustration this season, but they still have a solid rotation (holding onto Lance Lynn helps) and a lineup with five guys sporting an OPS of at least .820. That’s a good start. And remember, this franchise won its two most recent World Series titles with teams that weren’t world-beaters during the regular season — 2006 (83 wins) and 2011 (90 wins) — so maybe this hot-and-cold team is destined for greatness. Probably not, though.

Why they’re here: Is there any magic left in Kansas City? This is definitely a one-more-run situation, what with Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Jason Vargas all free agents after the season. The Royals have a solid, but not spectacular, rotation (though Danny Duffy feels like a potential playoff star) and a solid bullpen, too.

Game Mens Randy Bullock Jersey Spieth was gunning for the career Grand Slam, and Thomas was … well, searching for his first major championship, which came Sunday with a final-round 68 as he overtook a few of the game’s other young stars in the process.

Game Mens Mike Evans Jersey I think what he learned is that he has to play his game and not force it, said veteran caddie Jimmy Johnson, who left Steve Stricker to work for Thomas full time two years ago. Let the course come to him and play a little smarter. He was trying too hard, maybe. I don’t think he was so much frustrated as he was playing too hard. He’s just letting his potential go through now.

The complicated case of trading Tigers icon Justin Verlander

The Detroit Tigers are in a pickle.

They haven’t made the playoffs since 2014, and barring some unforeseen miracle, that’s not happening in 2017, either. They’re eight games under .500 heading into Tuesday’s game, and their core group of aging players isn’t getting any younger (or better, likely).

They’d love to rebuild, but the contracts on the books — Miguel Cabrera, Jordan Zimmermann, Victor Martinez and Justin Upton — are prohibitive to that process. They don’t want to trade young ace Michael Fulmer, who made the All-Star team this year and is still years from arbitration.

That brings us to Justin Verlander. He’s been the face of this franchise for a decade now; he won the AL Cy Young award and MVP in 2011, and he’s helped the Tigers to five playoff appearances, including two World Series trips.

He could be traded; any team would love to add him to their rotation.
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Analysis (Rivera): Once upon a time, in a weaker Yankees farm system, Rob Refsnyder was a top-10 prospect. For reasons unknown, he never get an extended shot at the major league roster, and was sent down and called back up more times than you have fingers and toes. Refsnyder was below-average defensively and with no true position, so that was likely part of New York’s issue with him. The Blue Jays will likely stash him at Triple A this season, for depth.
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McBroom, a 25-year-old first baseman, won’t help the Yankees this season, and likely won’t in the future: We just don’t know what he is or what he will be. As with the trade to acquire Garrett Cooper, the Yankees are probably looking to catch lightning in a bottle at first base.

Dez Bryant’s hometown kickball and BBQ extravaganza is the social event of 2017

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The Cowboys start their training camp on Saturday in Oxnard, Calif. Dez Bryant wants to have some fun before that, so he’s organizing what appears to be the social event of the summer in East Texas or anywhere else: a massive kickball party.

On Wednesday, Bryant posted on an unofficial Facebook page:

I’ll be in Lufkin tomorrow…BBQ..Drinks all on me..also I want to play kick ball so we need to form some teams ..I’m trying to figure out which park has the most space to set all of this up at…any suggestions on parks hit my inbox…trying to have fun before I head back to camp…

It turns out that lots of people in Texas would like to have free smoked meat and drinks and play kickball with an All-Pro Cowboys receiver. Bryant posted his note around lunchtime, and his invitation spread like wildfire. It had been shared more than 2,000 times before midnight. It appears lots of people are going to show up.

Limited Youth Myles Garrett Jersey Bryant apparently dropped much cash on all the food. In a follow-up message, he wrote that he’d spent $13k on BBQ and added, y’all better be hungry.

The number had risen to $16,000 about an hour later.

That breaks down to an average of $15.7 million per year. Bell will make $12.1 million this year under the franchise tag. McCoy’s per-year average is the next-highest in the NFL, and he’s making right around $8 million.

top receiver DeAndre Hopkins held out for one full day during training camp

Brown’s current deal averages $8.9 million per year, which ranks him just No. 17 in the league for left tackles. Brown is one of the most reliable players on the Texans’ offense. He’s by far the best player on the line that will have to protect either Tom Savage or rookie Deshaun Watson. But since he’s under contract, the Texans don’t have to back down. They probably won’t, either.

Last year, top receiver DeAndre Hopkins held out for one full day during training camp. He still doesn’t have an extension from the Texans and is set to hit free agency after the season.

So what if Brown’s holdout continues to the regular season? Let’s go to Matt Weston of Battle Red Blog for a breakdown of what it might look like for the Texans:

Without Duane Brown, the Texans’ options are either to move Chris Clark to left tackle and start Breno Giacomini or David Quessenberry at right tackle, or see if Julie’n Davenport can bound from the Patriot League to the National Football League in one summer. All of these options are horrifying.

Ouch. It’s more likely that Brown will make his way back to the team before the season begins. But if he doesn’t, that could be ugly for Houston.

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald skipped voluntary OTAs, but did show up for minicamp. He didn’t show up for training camp Friday, though, officially beginning a holdout.

Manning also looked old last season, and Father Time is undefeated. If he can’t play at the level he used to just a few years ago, how high is this team’s ceiling? If he’s nearing the end, how long is their contention window really open? Those are the million-dollar questions facing McAdoo and Reese, both in the present and future.
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Capitals, Maple Leafs will play outdoor game at Navy

Two months after the Rangers and Sabres play outside at Citi Field in New York next New Year’s Day, the NHL will resume its Stadium Series for the fifth straight year.

But next year’s game will have historic implications.
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For the first time ever, NHL teams will play a regular-season game on the campus of a U.S. military service academy. The Associated Press first reported Saturday that the Capitals and Maple Leafs will play March 3 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

Crosby, who was hit with high cross-check courtesy of Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen in Monday’s Game 3 loss, was at the Penguins’ facility but did not participate in practice earlier Tuesday. He will be evaluated again following Wednesday’s game.

Kids Carter Hutton Jersey Given Crosby’s history of head and neck injuries, the Penguins are expected to use caution when proceeding with their captain’s concussion. The 29-year-old superstar, who was named a finalist for the Hart Trophy on Monday, has missed dozens of games due to post-concussion syndrome in 2011 and two fractured vertebrae in his neck in 2012.

Barely five minutes into the first period, Crosby was cutting across the Capitals’ goal crease and falling to the ice when Niskanen made contact. Crosby needed to be helped off the ice to the Penguins’ locker room for evaluation and did not return to the game.

Niskanen was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for cross-checking, though it was reported Tuesday he won’t be subject to suspension for the headshot.

The Penguins additionally announced the loss of forward Conor Sheary, who was also diagnosed with a concussion after colliding with teammate Patric Hornqvist during Monday’s game.

NHL Expansion Draft: Brayden McNabb first to don new Golden Knights sweater

The Vegas Golden Knights are finally starting to look like an NHL franchise, getting new jerseys and a roster full of players on back-to-back nights.

Grady Jarrett Jersey At Wednesday’s NHL Awards show in Las Vegas, Brayden McNabb became the first player in the expansion franchise’s history to pull one of those gray home sweaters over his head. The Knights poached the 26-year-old defenseman from Los Angeles as one of their 30 expansion picks.

Kids Will Sutton Jersey The pending free agency of franchise cornerstone John Tavares has forced GM Garth Snow to retool a team that underachieved and missed the playoffs in 2016-17. Enter Jordan Eberle, 27, a six-time 20-goal scorer with the Oilers who could slot in on Tavares’ wing for the forseeable future. The cost was Ryan Strome, the fifth overall pick in 2011 who hasn’t quite found his scoring touch in four NHL seasons. Perhaps playing with Connor McDavid will help him along, too.

On the night of the Golden Knights’ roster reveal alone, GM George McPhree acquired 10 draft picks and six additional players by virtue of trades with other teams. He used some of those picks Friday and flipped a few players, too, but head here for a rundown of all of McPhee’s maneuvers from last week.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Tuesday at least a dozen teams have expressed interest in signing Joe Thornton should he decide to depart from San Jose, where he’s spent the last 12 NHL seasons. The rival Kings are said to be one of those suitors, according to LA Kings Insider, citing Thornton’s long list of connections to Los Angeles. The rub would be the Kings fitting Thornton into their $10 million of cap room, but he’s said to be willing to take a one-year deal for a shot at the Cup.

Thornton and fellow Hall of Fame-bound teammate Patrick Marleau are free agency’s wild cards, but right now the Sharks are still the favorites to keep at least one or both.

Utah’s Rodney Hood suffers ugly knee injury

Utah’s recent three-game win streak can be accredited to the stellar play of Rodney Hood. But the Jazz may be without their sharpshooter for an extended time after he suffered an ugly knee injury in Saturday’s 114-107 win over the Magic.

Hood hyperextended his right knee while driving to the basket for a layup with 2:54 remaining in the game. As he took off, Hood’s knee buckled and he fell to the court, screaming in pain.

Also not mentioned were players such as Amjyot Singh, Palpreet Singh Brar and Akashdeep Hazra 鈥?others holding huge roles in the immediate future of India Basketball. Amjyot Singh arguably is the best young Indian player, though as a 6-8 forward, he lacks the upside of Satnam. Amjyot last played in Japan and also was part of the prestigious Ludhiana Basketball Academy alongside Satnam. (Singh as a last name is exceptionally common in India, particularly in the state of Punjab, the home of Ludhiana and all of the players mentioned.)
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Authentic Mens Mariano Rivera Jersey For Satnam, this journey is his own because it’s the one he can control. And he embraces his role in the process, all the way down to making a documentary.

I told my dad that they want to make a documentary about me because, you know, I’m the first Indian if I go to the NBA, I’d be the first Indian, he said. One in a billion, you know? And my dad says, 鈥極K, if it’s good for you. Whatever is good for you. We all are happy. Good luck with everything.’ … My dad was so happy because he said, 鈥業 think it’s a great opportunity for us. For you, for your family, for another Indian kids. Everybody in India is very proud of you. If you do this, that could be the next level.’ So that made me feel very good.

NBA Draft prospect rankings 3.0: Markelle Fultz rises above rest of 2017 class

We’re midway through conference season in the 2016-17 college basketball season. That means we’ve gotten to know NBA prospects, have somewhat larger, 20 game-plus samples to rely upon and have been able to create some conclusions about where they fall within the grand scheme of the upcoming 2017 draft.

This is Big Board 3.0. It’s a still-developing document that, like the players enclosed within, will continue to mature as the season progresses. The biggest movers are Dennis Smith, Malik Monk, Justin Patton, Robert Williams, John Collins, Grayson Allen and OG Anunoby. Each of the top-30 has a brief explanation of his previous month, something quick on what makes him a special prospect, and even possibly a quick mention of weaknesses. As the year keeps going, we’ll continue to update this document. But heading to February, here’s what we’ve got.

In Charlotte’s defense, the team has lost six straight games and went 4-11 in January. Losing Cody Zeller to a quadriceps injury has hurt. Hibbert and Hawes could not replace his athleticism and constant activity. Those didn’t fit the Hornets’ future plans, but Steve Clifford may be able to unleash Plumlee as a “Diet Zeller.” If nothing else, the frontcourt is more athletic, and that was a major issue with Hibbert and Hawes on the floor against pace-and-space units.

Clifford has brought the best out of several of his players. He’s got a challenge in front of him with Plumlee, and this trade could end up looking awful if he’s unable to contribute.
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the Cavaliers rank 23rd in the league in defensive efficiency

While restricted free agency combined with individual maximum salaries makes the process very team-friendly for elite players, it gets substantially more complicated for anyone below that rarefied air. There, both prior teams and prospective teams have to define where a player would be properly paid along with what other offers could be on the table. Dallas’ case with Noel could provide an even more fascinating example of multi-stage logic.

If other organizations feel a restricted free agent’s prior team will match any non-outlandish offer, that will either scare them off or embolden them to push the prior team to the limit. After all, an offer sheet that gets matched leaves that team with nothing other than a grateful agent. While the new Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it more palatable to extend an offer sheet, those same positives and negatives apply with a tighter timeframe.

The Mavericks’ problem is that second camp, exemplified by Portland’s offer to Enes Kanter. Whether due to their own high evaluation of the talented center, knowledge that Oklahoma City could not lose him or both, Kanter ended up with a max offer sheet which included a fourth year player option. The Thunder ended up matching and are now dealing with an expensive roster, in part because of their $17 million backup center. That process may give Dallas’ front office cold sweats over the next four months, and for good reason, since it only takes one team going in that direction to create a very expensive dilemma.
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Authentic Mens Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey Currently, the Cavaliers rank 23rd in the league in defensive efficiency, according to NBA.com, not the kind of territory that breeds Finals contenders. In fact, only one other team since the league expanded to divisional play in 1970-71 has finished in the 20s in defensive efficiency in the regular season and still made the playoffs. That should ring a bell in Cleveland. It was the 2015 Cavs, ranked 20th in defensive efficiency two years ago.

It’s hard to say what options would be available to Wade should he opt out.

The second (and arguably more interesting) component in Noel’s case is projecting the value of his next contract. There are a series of different projections and calibrations that come into play, and Noel may be at the forefront of a few of them in the 2017 free agent class. Centers have been prized for years, but the combination of ample supply and reduced demand has cratered the market for centers around the league. While elite big men will always have value and drive interest, players outside of that class will have a tougher time moving forward.

Both Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson pushed their prior teams to the absolute brink with lucrative offer sheets from the Nets with both the Blazers and Heat matching. While those and Enes Kanter’s max offer sheet from the Trail Blazers in 2015 represent the outer limit on one end, there are also talented players like Khris Middleton and Will Barton who have either taken a lower salary or ended up with less due to the nature of the process.
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It’s hard to say what options would be available to Wade should he opt out. The Bucks and Nuggets were both interested in him last year, and would be willing to talk again this summer if he were a free agent. He could chase another trophy, perhaps as a bargain signee for a team like San Antonio or the Clippers. Heck, it’s a long shot, but he could join the pile on a bare bones contract in Golden State or team again with LeBron James in Cleveland.

Elite Kids Justin Britt Jersey But first things first. Wade will have to deal with his elbow injury. And before he has any free-agent dreams, he will have to determine just where Chicago is heading, something about which even the Bulls themselves seem unsure. Wade signed on last year to lead the Bulls and re-establish his roots. But after one turbulent year, he might be willing to pull up those roots.