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Warriors-Thunder: Much ado about nothing

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It’s the lull in the NBA season. March Madness grabbed the basketball spotlight and the playoff race seems even less interesting as the division between contenders and pretenders is clear.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are not contenders. The Golden State Warriors are yet. It was a simple story on a Sunday afternoon when the NBA was in the background to the NCAA tournament that kept the league abuzz this week.

ESPN reported that the Warriors were unhappy with Kevin Durant’s treatment upon his return to Oklahoma City a few months back.

The next day Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that was hogwash.

Kerr said, per ESPN:

“I don’t agree,” Kerr said. “[Thunder general manager] Sam Presti’s a friend of mine. I know [Thunder chairman] Clay Bennett, it’s a class organization all the way. So I don’t really pay any attention to a story like that unless there’s an actual name that’s put on, so, I assume it’s just sources? Sources? So I don’t know who that is. It’s nobody with the Warriors. So, we have great respect for the Thunder. Sam’s been a friend of mine forever. They’re first class, so I don’t know where that comes from.”

Stephen Curry was asked about the alleged mistreatment of Durant and he commented “Certain stories that don’t need to see the light of day, don’t need to have any kind of life breathed into them, are somehow the most popular. ”

Yes, the assembled NBA media and bloggers and NBA twitter is dying for a decent story line to fill the gap between March and May and it’s really meager out there.

The Knicks tragedy will fill only so many pixels.

Dear NBA we need something to talk about.

 

 

Today’s Sports Pages: Chargers make it official, Troy Aikman responds and Jim Harbaugh is a dad (again)

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The Chargers made what many knew was a foregone conclusion, they are moving to Los Angeles to begin play in 2017 at a 30,000 seat football soccer stadium. San Diego Union-Tribune

Editor’s Note: The team even changed its Twitter handle to the Los Angeles Chargers this morning.

The Chargers’ Decision to Move to L.A. Is a Monument to Cynicism. Greed has won out in the NFL once again The Ringer 

Readers weigh in on what ails the NHL. Boston Globe 

Dirty Harry? Collector says Kris Bryant’s Game 7 cleats carried Harry Caray’s image Chicago Tribune

The Trailblazers beat the Cavs last night Oregon Live

Iowa State kicker fires back at Twitter haters with funny video Kansas City Star

Klay Thompson continues to lead the league in catching feelings Sporting News 

Troy Aikman responds to Packers fans’ petition to ban him and Joe Buck from calling Green Bay games Dallas Morning News 

Johnny Manziel will charge $50 per selfie Super Bowl week Houston Chronicle 

Jim Harbaugh is the father for the seventh time…yes seven times. Detroit Free Press.

Samantha Smith reflects on the dark impossible years since her husband’s death Indianapolis Star

Grayson Allen has brought this all on himself, and so has Duke USA TODAY 

Knicks hit with bad karma by playing Derrick Rose against 76ers instead of disciplining him New York Daily News 

Terps’ talented freshman keep answering the bell Baltimore Sun 

Jim Furyk has been named the 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Golf.com 

Editor’s note: And he may play.

A collection of the top stories from the Nation’s newspapers and websites. Have a submission? Send to editor@digitalsportsdaily.com. 

 

College Football we have a problem: The Bowl game conundrum

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Thankfully, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery saved the day and gave the college football diehards something to talk about in the lulls of December.

The LSU running back and the Standford running back will miss their respective bowl games so as to “prepare” for the NFL draft.

There are two sides to the story (maybe 3 such as individual personal factors or the unknown such as Fournette or McCaffery’s personal circumstances, things happening at the school, inside the locker room and stuff like that).

A) Fournette and McCaffery are their own brand, product and now enter adulthood attempting to financially benefits themselves as best as possible.

B) Both Fournette and McCaffery made a commitment and received free room and board to their respective programs, and to participate in their respective team’s games if at all possible and healthy.

Both sides of the story are both right. Fournette and McCaffery should not be criticized simply to preserve their draftability and personal health prior to their first NFL season and professional career.

On the flipside one can think is there a lack of commitment to the football team or school from both of these guys?

Who is making the decision to sit the game out, an agent, a family member, the head coach? Or are these guys making the call themselves.

So no big deal. Well not quite.

As Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports points out, this is only just the beginning.

The Bowl system may be destroyed by the actions of and decisions of two.

Wetzel writes “It’s just there is also nothing wrong with the other way, the way Christian McCaffrey just uniquely busted open for plenty of future stars to follow.”

The worst nightmare for AD’s and Bowl organizers is if post-season games are treated like exhibitions where star players are held out for health. A) No one would watch these games, by-in-large, save for diehards B) certainly travel and ticket sales for such bowl games would be decimated.

A) No one would watch these games, by-in-large, save for diehards B) certainly travel and ticket sales for such bowl games would be decimated.

How do you enforce it?

How can you force a sure-fire NFL draft pick to play?

You can’t.

You can’t penalize it.

You can only adapt.

One possibility might be the ushering out of Bowl games for the Power 5 conferences where most of the top draft picks reside, and a move to a more broad playoff system, which could include 6, 8, 16 teams.

Daily Buzz: College Basketball weekend picks, Darius Miles, Craig Sager

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This weekend looks to be one of the first big, big weekends, in college basketball. We’ve had a few nice games so far this season but this weekend is packing a punch.

Here are a few games to keep an eye on if you are a hoop crazed college basketball fan:

Most notably North Carolina vs Kentucky at a neutral site in Las Vegas, NV. A test for both teams and measuring stick and impact on the seeding of the NCAA tournament.

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No. 21 Notre Dame vs No. 15 Purdue

Ohio Stave vs No. 2 UCLA

No. 18 Butler vs No. 9 Indiana

No. 7 North Carolina vs No. 6 Kentucky

Davidson vs No. 3 Kansas

Wake Forest vs No. 17 Xavier



 

 

Darius Miles former NBA player sadly according to St. Louis Dispatch columnist Ben Fredrickson, filed for bankruptcy and all his stuff was auctioned off flea-market style. The potential buyers couldn’t get over the wasteful spending, the over-spending on unnecessary items. Sadly it appears that Miles was battling many problems and spending was the outlet.

It hurts when people die. When beloved sports legends die, we gather on social media and in a way it’s a community mourning that appears to be somewhat healthy. That is the case with the death of Craig Sager yesterday. Outpouring of tributes and sadness that this incredible personality passed away at the age of 65.

 

 

 

 

Minnesota football players are threatening to boycott the Holiday Bowl due to the announcement of 11 suspensions of football players Tuesday by the university.

After the Arizona Cardinals released Michael Floyd for a DUI arrest the New England Patriots have claimed the wide receiver.  

Steve Young states the San Francisco 49ers owners, the York Family, only cares about making money, which they are, despite the team losing.

“You don’t have to win to make money,” Young said. “That’s (the York’s) A game. Their equity value in the team is their A game. It’s what drives them. It’s what drives most of the owners. It’s what matters. It’s what they think about. It’s what they talk about. And the B game, is whether we win some games. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to, or you don’t really want to, or it’s not really important. It’s just not the A game.

 

 

LeBron sits and the world reacts

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LeBron James wasn’t the only Cleveland Cavalier to sit out the Cavaliers 93-85 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night.

The Cavs starting lineup was as follows:

Mike Dunleavy F

Channing Frye F

Tristan Thompson C

J.R. Smith G

DeAndre Liggins G

Missing of course besides James was Kyrie Irving  and Kevin Love, two perennial All-Stars.

No one was injured. It was just needed rest, according to Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue.  The Big Three would sit. The fans in Memphis would get the pleasure of watching J.R. Smith hoist up fifteen shots and make four. But the fans in Memphis come to see the Grizz right? Wrong. They come to see the Grizz except for a select group of teams, which include the Warriors, Cavs and Spurs. For those visits, entire mini-season ticket packages are built around. For those games the secondary market on StubHub for example triples in value often.

Now Tim Duncan of the Spurs has been sitting out selectively as he aged. (See Gregg Popovich and five NBA titles.)

Now LeBron is doing it and the world has reacted.

Jason Terry:

Tony Kornheiser of Pardon the Interuption and Washington Post fame, states the fact that LeBron would miss a game while healthy was a “disgrace”.

As reported by Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News Kornheiser said:

“This is a disgrace. There’s only two teams that you buy a season ticket for. You buy it for Golden State. And you buy it for Cleveland,” said Kornheiser. “Cleveland goes into Memphis one time. And none of these players is going to be there?”

LeBron when questioned by reporters prior to Wednesday’s game said the call was his coach and didn’t seem to have an appetite to justify the reason for sitting. (Though many blame LeBron directlly).

“I do whatever my coach asks me to do,” James said per Cleveland.com.

“My coach wants me to rest, I don’t buck my coach. That’s what he wants and that’s what we gonna do.

“I’ve been in this league 14 years. I shouldn’t have to explain me sitting out a game or not playing games. I’ve played in every arena, including Seattle that’s no longer here. It’s not like it’s my first year. I’ve got 14 years. I’ve paid my dues and more than a lot of guys in this league. But I’ll ride with my coach.”

Did the Yankees really need a closer this bad? Chapman rakes in $85 million

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Late, (very late) Wednesday night the New York Yankees signed closer Arolis Chapman, their old buddy, to a five-year $85 million contract  He’ll be paid on average more than $17 million per season or roughly 340 times what the average New Yorker will make.

He also will be the highest paid closer in the history of the game, surpassing what the Phillies paid Jonathan Paplebon in 2012 with a four-year $50 million contract. Also the highest paid reliever in the game last season was Craig Kimbrel of the Red Sox at $13 million per season.

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The big question is why did the Yankees sign Chapman?

Money does not appear to be the issue.  Last summer, the Yankees appeared to be in a rebuilding phase.

After trading Chapman to the Cubs in July of last summer, they also got rid of another reliever you may have heard of named Andrew Miller, who dominated the postseason with the Cleveland Indians.  November 17th they traded catcher Brian McCann to the Astros. In September they traded Phil Coke to the Pirates.  In August they released A-Rod, allowed Mark Teixeira to retire at season’s end, traded Carlos Beltran to the Rangers, and sent Ian Nova to the Pirates.

Another Yankees stalwart Brett Gardner is said to be on the trading block. While they recently signed Matt Holliday to a one-year deal at the twilight of his career.

This was the beginning of a rebuilding phase which may not come to fruition until 2019, right in the middle of Chapman’s contract.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com writes:

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has a grand plan — a pretty good one, I might add — to build toward the franchise’s next “uber” team by 2019. When the tide of the Yankees’ young talent collides with one of the greatest free-agent classes in baseball history, the Yankees could form something special.

So the Yankees will grab Chapman now, hope he stays healthy and helps them win a little with bigger hopes for 2019.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, via ESPN.com, “The attraction to (Chapman) is we know he can pitch in New York and there is no draft pick attached.”

“Then it just comes down to money and terms. We will compete to a certain level and then we’ll see if that is good enough. If it is not, that is why we are staying in contact with all of them.”

Some Notre Dame fans appear to be very unhappy with AD Jack Swarbrick

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Wednesday, under the heading “paid advertisement” in the University of Notre Dame/St. Mary’s student newspaper, The Observer appears a very nice graphic.

The graphic is titled “Notre Dame Football Has Failed Under Jack Swarbrick”.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-3-13-44-pm

The graphic itself would probably score a B in a business class, or a C in a graphic design seminar. However, this is reality for people. This is Notre Dame football.

Notre Dame finished with a brutal record of 4-8 in the 2016 college football season. Yet the advertisement, which is allegedly paid for a group of alumni and students, takes its displeasure out on Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s (thick skinned) athletic director. *Any AD with his own radio show is thick skinned we would assume.

The graphic points to on the field: zero “major” bowl wins during Swarbrick’s tenure, and off the field: issues like the recent academic misconduct case which costs the football team 21 wins from seasons gone by.

The force of a viral image has a lot of weight these days. No doubt the well-educated persons who sponsored the graphic understand that a single advertisement in a student newspaper does not result in job loss, but it gets the conversation going. It attempts puts the pressure on someone who thus far usually has been immune, that is Jack Swarbrick.

It may be coincidental, but Swarbrick recently gave Kelly a vote of confidence after some wondered how much longer the football coach would be at the school.

And in true Brian Kelly fashion (a style many in the media are getting used to and loathing), he stated that he was disappointed that he would even need a vote of confidence. Implying that confidence in him as head football coach by his athletic director and university, should be implied.

The Cubs: lovable losers to lovable champs

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There is a small sense somewhere deep inside the cynical mind that this Cubs team was built as a juggernaut, unlike many past Cubs teams built on a hope and a prayer and devoid of real talent at so many positions-including manager.

Joe Maddon is from Pennsylvania and earned things the very hard way, 30-years plus in the Angels organization as a coach. Theo Epstein is a Boston native, and a Yale graduate. Cubs owner and chairman Tom Ricketts is an Omaha, Nebraska native but attended college at the University of Chicago.

There’s an outside nature to the men who brought and steered the Cubs to the World Series victory Wednesday night in Cleveland, but none the less, the Cubs classic blue and red identity is still the same, the immortal Wrigley field still looks basically the same after over 100 years of existence. The Cubs needed outside help when the Tribune Company put the team up for sale and a savior with deep pockets came along and saw a cash cow, not a billy goat.

 

And so the Cubs of the lovable losers days are gone. The ‘hay day’ in the 1980’s with teams just good enough or simply really bad, where you could have a beer and a hotdog and lose the game and still have a great day, are gone. Gone is Harry Carry shirtless in the bleachers drinking a Budweiser. Gone is Ron Santo. Gone is Ernie Banks. Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson are guests of the team. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, the list goes on and on, heroes of the World Series. A roster chocked so full of talent you can’t really say one is a bigger star than the other.  Now you have a beer and a hotdog, pay a lot for a ticket and the Cubs very likely will win. And win for the foreseeable future.

But the fans haven’t changed. The Cubs fans are still there. Some may have taken a backseat here or there in their devotion but we all stumble many times and show a lack of faith. When the door to the promised land opened, millions of Cubs faithful lined up.

Bill Murray, who notably has been a Cubs fan for way back, 30 years or more, and he said it best, “I hope we can be as lovable winning as we were losing” as he drank champagne still in shock that it had actually happened. Dreams do come true he said.

Was it the greatest baseball game ever played? Probably not. There have been so many baseball games played and the definition of greatness varies depending on the emotional investment of the participants and on-lookers.

The measure of a sporting event, more often than not involves the broad appeal to the general public. Whether it be a cinderella, the most famous athletes, a spectacle, we judge my mass appeal. The greatest game could happen in a little league game somewhere in Idaho, but it doesn’t mean anything beyond those onlookers and participants in Idaho.

Was Game 7 and the Cubs win the best game and the most exciting with the most at stake in the modern sport? Yes. I’ll leave the pre-1960’s teams out of it-the comparison isn’t fair and there aren’t enough still alive to be able to compare the two in amicable fashion. The only real comparison might be the late 90’s early turn of the century Yankees teams.  When Boston started winning again it was big. The Mets in 1986. The only real comparison might be the late 90’s early turn of the century Yankees teams.  When Boston started winning again it was big. The Mets in 1986 was big. The Big Red Machine of the 70s was big. But within the scope of the 21st century, a different time, with may more distractions and heartaches, and an influx of huge money into the game, it’s hard to argue that Wednesday night’s game wasn’t the biggest of the modern baseball era. Fox Sports reports that over 40 million people tuned in. That sort of stuff doesn’t happen anymore for a baseball game. America doesn’t just gather around the TV set in unison, for something unless it’s really big anymore, there are way too many entertainment options, but they did Wednesday night.

And so the Cubs get to enjoy this, they really get to enjoy this for five months. Bask in the limelight and the fun starts all over again, fresh with new hopes and new dreams and high expectations next April on the north side of Chicago.

The Cubs are a critical, commercial and emotional success. The Cubs are the kings of the sports world, at least for now.

 

The Giants have some sorta Magic

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—It’s easy to like the Giants.

The two biggest stars on the team, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, are stalwarts at their positions. And both humble in their respectable ways. Hyper-competitive, but humble.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy is likely one of the greatest managers to manage a ball club. And no it does not take big names to buy in and make it happen with Bochy’s Giants.

Take for example Connor Gillaspie. Once a Giants prospect, found himself designated for assignment, not once but twice, the last by the Los Angeles Angels last summer. The Giants who originally drafted Gillaspie pretty high in the 2008 draft, 37th overall, signed him to a minor league deal last winter and he’s saved the day this postseason.

The Giants under Bochy do well under pressure when it’s when or your season is over. Under Bochy, the Giants are perfect-as in have never lost a postseason elimination game. Somehow someway they find a way.

Last night in San Francisco it took 13 innings but the Giants found a way to keep it going and will play tonight under the lights in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cubs, once again with their back to the wall.

Somehow, someway, regardless of the roster the Giants are going to be in the thick of things. Making it happen on a hope and a prayer.

 

Tiger Woods may surprise us this week at the Safeway Open

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Update: Tiger Woods has announced he will not play in this week’s Safeway Open or next Month in Turkey. Woods states his game is not where it needs to be to compete with the best players in the world.  Woods’ likely return will be at The Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December. 

Tiger Woods has endured personal problems and horrendous back problems, are they behind him finally?

At first thought, one might wonder, ‘Why in the world would Tiger Woods choose the “Safeway Open” as his comeback tournament?’

One might picture a tiny tournament that just made its way onto the PGA Tour or in some sense regulated to a grocery store sponsorship. And perhaps played on a course behind the grocery store.

That’s not the case. For one, it’s the first stop on the 2016-17 PGA Tour season. A chance for Tiger to start at the beginning and keep momentum going once fully healthy. For another, it’s in Napa Valley California one of Tiger’s favorite places, where he also hosts the Tiger Woods Invitational.

This week’s tournament is at a place called the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California.

Tiger is already in town. Saturday night he was at the Standford football game on the sidelines about a two-hour drive from this week’s tournament. Sunday he was at the Standford golf course playing a round.

The biggest mystery surrounding Tiger’s game is how much is mental, how much is diminishing skills due to age, and how much or if all of it is due to a very bad back.

Golf is impossible to play with a bad back. When his back was bad, it showed. Just 5 months ago he dropped three in the water on a 100-yard par 3. It wasn’t that the best golfer in the planet, at one time, couldn’t hit a ball 100 yards, his back wouldn’t let him.

But word on the street is that Tiger is playing well. Although some are doubtful how much work he has been able to put in on the golf course in his time back from Surgery in October 2015, the growing majority are beginning to trend towards the idea that Tiger will be able to play decent this week in Napa Valley. Of course, that doesn’t mean he will score low. There’ a difference in hitting the ball well, even playing well and the ability to score low in the course of a four round tournament.

One thing Tiger has done well is to avoid answering too many questions about his golf game.

According to Golf Digest, Jesper Parvevick says Tiger is hitting it well at the Medalist, Tiger’s home course in Florida where many Tour players play.

“I see Tiger at the Medalist. We talk and have played nine holes together,” Parnevik tells Golf Digest senior writer Guy Yocom. “By the way, he’s been hitting a lot of balls, and he’s hitting it great. He’s pounding it a mile and flushing everything. On the range, at least, his trajectory and ball flight are like the Tiger we knew 15 years ago. Comebacks are never a sure thing, but something tells me his might be spectacular.”

Brian Wacker of Golf Digest has a different story.

Woods, by many accounts, seems to have become as private as ever. In the 20-mile strip of the Sunshine State between Jupiter and West Palm Beach to the south, where you can’t go to the local Chipotle without bumping into a tour player, Big Cat sightings have become increasingly scarce since he has been on the shelf. These days, he leads an existence closer to Bruce Wayne than Batman.

A former Wall Streeter who played college golf and still carries a low-single-digit handicap says he saw Woods earlier this summer and adds, “It was so bad it almost looked like he can’t play golf anymore.”

All subject to opinion. That’s why many will tune into the opening round Thursday on the Golf Channel. Word on the street is that Phil Mickelson asked to be paired with Tiger for the opening two rounds and that is what will happen.

Woods has played the Safeway Open one time prior, in 2011, when he finished 30th at 7-under for the tournament.

In a statement released last month on his website, Woods also states he plans to play the Turkish Airlines Open in November and the Hero World Challenge in December in the Bahamas.

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