thanks

Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin Raising Funds For First Responders

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is continuing his recovery at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after suffering from cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. 

Now, Hamlin has announced his plans to raise funds to benefit the first responders and hospital that has aided him in his recovery. Hamlin took to Twitter to announce the sale of T-shirts in which the proceeds will be given to first responders and the UC Trauma Center. 

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“We all won. I want to give back an ounce of the love y’all showed me. Proceeds of this shirt will go to first-responders and the UC Trauma Center. Go get yours!”

Hamlin included a link to the website in which fans can choose from three different T-shirt options, all of which feature Hamlin’s hands in the shape of a heart and “Did We Win?” in big print. 

The T-shirt also features a hospital tag ID bracelet on Hamlin’s right wrist. The question “Did We Win” is what Hamlin asked his team of medical professionals after waking up last week following his cardiac arrest last Monday. 

Every NFL team honored Hamlin in this past weekend’s final slate of regular season games. Players, coaches, and team personnel were sporting T-shirts that had “Love You Damar” printed on them along with his jersey number, 3. 

Teams also painted the 30-yard line in red within their hosting stadiums. 

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During the first quarter of last week’s Monday Night Football contest, Hamlin, 24, suffered cardiac arrest after completing his tackle of Tee Higgins, the Bengals wide receiver. After standing up following the tackle, Hamlin almost immediately collapsed. 

Hamlin had to be resuscitated by medical officials on the field following his collapse. Afterwards he was transported to UC Medical Center and was listed as being in critical condition for days following the cardiac arrest. 

Medical officials stated last Thursday that Hamlin was awake and “had made substantial improvement. As he recovered, he continued to show his support for his team during the season finale of regular games against division rival New England Patriots. 

Hamlin continuously tweeted from his hospital bed during the game up until the Bills defeated the Patriots 35-23. 

Following his charity announcement, fans raised more than $8.5 million for the Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive, surpassing their initial goal of raising $2,500. 

court

Brittney Griner’s Nine Year Sentence Upheld by Russian Court

Brittney Griner, an American basketball player currently serving a nine-year sentence in Russia for drug charges, has had her appeal against the sentence dismissed by a Russian court.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on Feb. 17 at a Moscow airport when cannabis oil vape cartridges carrying less than a gram of hashish oil were discovered in her luggage. She was convicted in August for “drug smuggling” and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Officials believe that the lengthy sentence was politically motivated by the collapse of U.S. and Russian relations after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The White House called the legal proceedings a “sham.” Elizabeth Rood, a high-ranking U.S. diplomat who was present at the hearing, also called the penalty “excessive and disproportionate.”

Her case has been referred to the State Department’s office under the label of hostage affairs.

Griner was legally prescribed the oil for pain management by her doctor in the U.S. She apologized for possessing it in her appeal, admitting she had packed the cartridges by accident while rushing to pack her luggage. During the U.S. basketball offseason, she had wanted to travel to Russia to play club basketball.

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In July, shortly before pleading guilty, Griner had written to President Joe Biden expressing her distress and calling for help from the government.

“I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments. I’m terrified I might be here forever. I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.”

The state prosecutor arguing against her case called the continuing sentence “fair.” Alexander Boykov, the athlete’s lawyer, stated that “no judge, hand on heart, will honestly say that Griner’s nine-year sentence is in line with Russian criminal law.”

“Brittney is [a] very strong person and has a champion’s character. However, she of course has her highs and lows as she is severely stressed being separated from her loved ones for over eight months.”

Russia and the U.S. have discussed the possibility of a prisoner exchange between the two countries. There is speculation that the White House may offer up Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, also known as the “merchant of death.”

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan issued a statement saying Griner was being “wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances” and reaffirmed that President Biden had demanded her immediate release.

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“President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately. In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan. The President has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home, as his Administration has done successfully from countries around the world. The Administration remains in regular touch with representatives of the families, and we continue to admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances.”

The sports star spoke to the appeals court remotely from a detention center located in a town near Moscow.

“I really hope that the court will adjust this sentence because it has been very very stressful and very traumatic…I’ve been here almost eight months and people with more severe crimes have been given less than what I was given.”

Though she is still imprisoned, she is grateful for the people working toward her release.

“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me.”

warriors

Warriors’ Draymond Green Fined, Not Suspended, for Punching Jordan Poole

After punching teammate Jordan Poole during practice last week, all-star forward Draymond Green has been fined but will not be suspended by the Golden State Warriors.

Warriors’ coach, Steve Kerr, relayed the information after the team’s preseason win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Kerr said he expects Green to return to practice on Thursday. He will also participate in the Golden State’s preseason finale game against the Denver Nuggets on Friday and open the regular season in a game against the Lakers Oct. 18.

The decision came after Kerr met with the team and general manager Bob Myers.  Green and Poole have since met to talk about the incident. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry also stepped in to mediate some of those conversations, saying that there is “nothing that warranted the situation.” Curry believes it was “also something we feel like won’t derail our season, what we’re trying to build, and that’s with Draymond a part of that.” Kerr has decided not to reveal how much Green was fined.

“We have spent the last week in deep discussions with all of our key figures in the organization, including Jordan and Draymond, of course, Steph, all of our players, Bob, myself, and I can tell you there have been a lot of conversations, individual, one-on-one discussions, players-only discussions, everything that you can think of, all the different combinations that are possible to have in a conversation, we’ve had them. It’s been an exhaustive process.”

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Green has publicly apologized for punching Poole, saying he “failed as a leader.” Green also shared that he was in “a very, very, very bad space mentally” when he punched Poole. He decided to distance himself from the Warriors for a few days to give his teammates some time to “heal.” Green had since been completing his workouts alone until the team decided how to move forward.

“Hurt people hurt people. I hurt someone because I was in a place of hurt.”

During the Warriors’ run of four championship titles in eight seasons, Green has been instrumental to the team’s success, playing a pivotal role as a veteran presence and defensive leader. However, the time he has spent on the team has been tainted by a few incidents.

“Draymond sort of lives on the edge as far as his spot on our basketball team. He’s always right in the thick of things, and a couple times in his career, he’s crossed the line. He crossed the line with Kevin (Durant), and he crossed the line the other night in a much worse fashion.”

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On Friday, TMZ released a leaked video of the punch. The video shows the two players in a verbal altercation. Green then approaches Poole near the baseline until he bumps him in the chest. Poole pushed Green away, and then Green punched Poole in the face, sending him into the wall behind the baseline. The other teammates eventually broke up the fight.

Kerr said an investigation into the leak of the video is ongoing.

“We feel like this is the best way after assessing everything for us to move forward. It’s never easy, no matter what decision you make in a situation like this. It’s not going to be perfect. This is the biggest crisis that we’ve ever had since I’ve been coach here. It’s really serious stuff…We’re not perfect. Our team isn’t perfect. Bob and I have definitely made our share of mistakes over the years, but we’re going to lean on the experience we’ve had together over the last nine years and trust this is the best decision for our team.”

Kerr said that while Green broke “our trust with this incident,” he is “giving him the benefit of the doubt because he’s earned that, and I think our team feels the same way.”

dolphins

Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Suffers Concussion Days After Suspected Head Injury

The Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a head injury on Thursday during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals and was carried off the field on a stretcher. He had suffered another injury less than a week ago in a game against the Buffalo Bills.

In the second quarter of the Bengals game, Tagovailoa was tackled by Bengals defensive lineman Josh Tupou. When he hit the ground, he made a gesture with his hands called the “fencing response,” which is often a sign of a brain injury. He then laid there, barely moving on the field, for nearly 10 minutes until trainers put him on a stretcher and carried him off the field.

A few minutes after the injury, broadcasters announced he had suffered head and neck injuries and was being taken to a hospital to be treated. Later, The Dolphins confirmed that Tagovailoa had suffered a concussion but had movement in all his extremities. After he was released from the hospital, he flew back with the team to Florida on Thursday night.

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Head Coach Mike McDaniel said it was a “scary moment” after the game.

“He was evaluated for a concussion and is in concussion protocol. That was an emotional moment. That is not part of the deal anyone signs up for even though you know it’s a possibility in football.”

Just a few days prior, Tagovailoa had suffered another blow to his head during a game against the Bills. His helmet slammed against the turf after he got hit by linebacker Matt Milano in the second quarter. He “immediately grabbed the sides of his helmet, staggered to his feet and after taking a few steps, fell to his knees.” He was examined for a concussion, cleared and returned to the field in the third quarter.

The Dolphins later said he had suffered a back injury, not a head injury. Tagovailoa agreed that he had passed the concussion evaluations before he returned to the game.

McDaniel defended playing Tagovailoa in the game against the Bengals less than a week after the injury, saying Tagovailoa had been evaluated by an independent doctor who said he was fit to play.

“For me, as long as I’m coaching here, I’m not going to fudge that whole situation—if there’s any sort of inclination that someone has a concussion, they go into the concussion protocol. We don’t mess with that. I never have and as long as I’m the head coach, it will never be an issue that you guys have to worry about.”

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta told CNN that the incident from the game was likely much more severe than it was being portrayed.

“When you look at the video from last night, it obviously looks like a pretty significant injury. Tua’s on the ground for a long time. This movement that he’s doing with his hands … that is a significant sign, something that people really need to pay attention to…It can be a sign of basically disrupting some of the pathways, even temporarily, between the brain and the spinal cord. If that sounds serious, it is serious.”

Dr. Gupta said Tagovailoa appeared unstable after his first injury in the game with the Bills and should not have been cleared to play under the NFL concussion protocol.

Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth spoke about his past experiences with a head injury and the pressures to keep playing after being injured.

“I can literally remember playing the Philadelphia Eagles on a Thursday night football game years ago myself—getting concussed, wobbling around, a referee actually removed me from the game. I go back in the game because you want to play. I was able to get myself through the test, explain that I’m fine, knowing that I had been dinged pretty good. I had a teammate that was like, ‘Man, this guy just is not right and I don’t feel right letting him keep playing.’ He actually pulled me out of the game and told the coaches that I need to be removed. And I’m so thankful for that. … This situation just brings back those memories. For us guys that have been on that field, it’s tough, man. We’ve gotta keep these guys uninvolved in it. They shouldn’t feel obligated to do something more than what they need to. It’s just an ugly scene to see.”

Several people believe that Tagovailoa may have suffered two concussions in five days, which is extremely dangerous. The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) said their “investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing,” and they were hoping for Tagovailoa’s “full and speedy recovery.” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith vowed he would hold all responsible parties accountable.

“We insisted on these rules to avoid exactly this scenario. We will pursue every legal option, including making referrals against the doctors to licensing agencies and the team that is obligated to keep our players safe.”

ncaa

More Plaintiffs Join Lawsuit v. NCAA Claiming Student Athletes Deserve Pay

Former Villanova University football player Ralph “Trey” Johnson sued the N.C.A.A. in November 2019, claiming that college athletes should be considered employees at the schools they play for under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The case has grown since then, with several former athletes joining as plaintiffs and seeking to form a class-action lawsuit.

This case is one of many blows the N.C.A.A. has taken to its current model of the relationship between athletes, their schools and the N.C.A.A.

In a statement, Johnson said that the lawsuit was “not about being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.” The case was also not restricted to a few select athletes with endorsement deals.

“We are simply asking the N.C.A.A. to pay its student-athletes the basic minimum wage as required by federal law. They pay the students who tear the tickets and sell popcorn at our games. The least that the N.C.A.A. can do for those who bring so much money to the N.C.A.A. and its schools would be to pay them the minimum wage.”

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In June 2021, the Supreme Court passed a unanimous decision in the case N.C.A.A. v. Alston to uphold a lower court’s ruling that the N.C.A.A. restrictions on “education-related benefits” for college athletes violated antitrust laws. These benefits included scholarships for graduate school, payment for academic tutoring and paid post-eligibility internships.

Though the Supreme Court case did not debate the issue of compensation, it was one of the first major blows to the N.C.A.A.’s status quo. Over the last two years, several states have passed legislation that challenged the N.C.A.A.’s rules prohibiting athletes from profiting off their NIL—name, image and likeness. Congress in both parties have proposed new legislation that would grant student athletes long-term medical care and a portion of the revenue they generate.

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The National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, released a memo stating that she considered college athletes employees under federal law. The memo states that Abruzzo would consider referring to the “employees as mere student-athletes,” violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. It was a sign that the N.L.R.B. would be willing to pursue claims against colleges, conferences and the N.C.A.A. on behalf of the students.

“The broad language of Section 2(3) of the Act, the policies underlying the N.L.R.A., Board law, and the common lawfully support the conclusion that certain Players at Academic Institutions are statutory employees, who have the right to act collectively to improve their terms and conditions of employment.”

The case is currently in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. If the case is ruled in favor of the athletes, it will counter the Seventh and Ninth circuit’s rulings. The conflicting rulings would increase the likelihood that the Supreme Court would step in to make a final decision.

In 2021, the N.C.A.A. made $1.15 billion in revenue and distributed the bulk of it to its 1,200 member schools.

49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo’s Return To The 49ers Could Mean Bad News For Trey Lance

The 49ers recently signed a new one-year contract over the course of the 2022 NFL season with Jimmy Garoppolo.

“The 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo agree to a restructured contract worth $6.5 million guaranteed,” the NFL tweeted recently. 

This could act as a benefit for the veteran quarterback, but it could have a different effect on Trey Lance.

Even though Garoppolo had already previously said his goodbyes to the team and fans in San Francisco, the team decided that it would be in the best interest of the team to create a new contract in order to keep him on the team. 

However for Lance, the addition of keeping Garoppolo on the team adds extra pressure due to him starting as Quarterback 1. 

Throughout the offseason, Lance has been struggling as he is heading into his first year on the 49ers as a lead offense player. 

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During training camp, Lance’s completion rate has been under 30% and during his preseason appearances, he completed a total of 11 out of 16 attempts for 141 yards and only scored one touchdown.

There is a lot of pressure when someone young takes over a starting position on a team. Luckily, there is a small chance that their coach will immediately pull Lance if he makes a bad decision on a play. 

Over the course of the 2021 season, both Lance and Garoppolo spoke out about lack of awkwardness between the both of them even though there is a natural hierarchy between the two. 

Garoppolo is familiar with leading a team in the NFL whereas Lance is still learning. 

“I think we could probably all agree last year that the best quarterback to lead the 49ers was Jimmy Garoppolo. Now, they made the no-questions-asked Trey Lance is the starter, ‘We’re moving on.’ Now it’s not so clear cut that the number one quarterback is the number one quarterback, and the onus is certainly on Trey Lance to prove it every week,” said NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco.

Even before the 49ers have found some controversy within the quarterback. 

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Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch (players in the NFL) have noticed that Lance is going to have some challenges in the upcoming season, but the 49ers have done all they can to make sure there is a replacement waiting in case he makes a mistake. 

In the end, if Lance ends up not being able to meet the expectations that is expected of him, Garoppolo will be called on to take over the position as quarterback. 

 

cowboys

Dallas Cowboys’ Tyron Smith Out Of Season Until At Least December Due To Knee Injury

Right before the opening of the season, the Dallas Cowboys will be starting without their Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith. 

In Wednesday’s practice, Smith suffered an avulsion fracture to his knee and tore his left hamstring which will require surgery. Recent reports say that Smith won’t return to the field until the earliest possibly December, if he returns at all this season.

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Smith was on a running play during practice and fell to the ground as he went to make a block against the Cowboys’s linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.

“The 31-year-old went down in practice with a non-contact injury but was able to walk off under his own power,” reported the NFL.

After the injury, Smith was found leaving the locker room after practice and to others, he didn’t appear to be limping from the recent injury that was sustained. The initial tests came back and indicated that the ACL in his knee was still intact. 

 

“He gave me a nice reassuring grunt like he usually does. That’s the one thing playing next to him for so long, I can decipher his grunts. I think he’s all right,” said Left guard Connor McGovern.

 

This isn’t the first time that the Cowboys have had to play without Smith’s presence on the field. 

Smith also missed 20 games over the past two seasons and hasn’t played in an entire season since 2015. 

Over the last couple of seasons, he has suffered from other knee, ankle, neck and elbow injuries. He missed 14 games over the 2020 season due to his neck injury and 6 games in the 2021 season due to an ankle injury and having some time on the COVID list. 

The Cowboys are now trying to evaluate potential free agents for the offensive tackle spot but are having trouble finding help within the position. Any and all efforts to find assistance has now intensified. 

The options that are available with the team’s current roster doesn’t come with much experience.

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Back in April, the Cowboys drafted left tackle Tyler Smith from Tulsa within the first round and rotated him between the left guard and left tackle position. Their intent was to have Smith start at left guard but have him prepared to slide into left tackle in case Tyron Smith suffered an injury at any point of the season.

Tyler Smith was originally planned to play left guard for this season but still hasn’t taken the job from McGovern. In the most recent training camps, he did some left tackle reps but still played mostly guard positions.

Tyler Smith is still the Cowboy’s plan for the long run in the position at left tackle. 

baseball

MLB Trade Deadline: Which Pitchers Or Hitters Could Be On The Move?

With the MLB trade deadline only a week away, contenders will be looking to cash in players that can help to push them over the line. There are a number of notable names this year, and even one generational superstar, that are seeing their names frequently mentioned throughout the rumor mill.

Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas Headline The Pitching Market

For pitching needy teams, this is an extremely solid market. One of the biggest reasons why is because of controllability: both Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo and Oakland’s Frankie Montas will be eligible for arbitration in 2023 before hitting free agency in 2024, giving teams an extra year of control.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, both will “almost certainly move in the next week.” Passan also notes the St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, and New York Yankees have been the teams in the hottest pursuit.

Both Castillo and Montas have impressed despite the below-average teams around them. Castillo carries a 2.77 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 78.0 innings, while Montas comes in with a 3.18 ERA and 3.36 FIP across 104.2 innings.

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With those performances and financial factors comes a much-higher cost. A package centering around a top-100 prospect or two would almost certainly be needed. For teams attempting to boost their talent while keeping the farm system intact, a number of pitchers could be of interest.

Among the potential targets listed by Passan include Nathan Eovaldi, Noah Syndergaard, and Jose Quintana. All have ERAs in the high 3.00s, solidify back-of-the-rotation depth, and wouldn’t cost as much in terms of prospects due to their rental status.

Will Juan Soto Be On The Move? Probably Not

By far the biggest name on the hot stove is Washington Nationals’ star outfield Juan Soto. After rejecting a $440 million dollar contract, it’s clear Washington and Soto have no future together, and recouping as much value for the 23-year-old right now would seem to be a wise, though hard to swallow, decision.

The only problem? It remains to be seen if a team will actually pay.

This year, he’s in the 98th percentile in xwOBA, 91st in max exit velocity, and 100th in BB%. Soto’s stats, age, and career trajectory suggest he’ll be a Hall of Fame player. Naturally, Washington is seeking a package of at least several valued prospects or young, MLB-ready talent.

Only two teams — the Cardinals and San Diego Padres — are seen by league insiders who could be a match with that criteria. While Washington could perhaps let up its value asking price, the reality will likely be the team feels out the market and does the deed in the offseason.

Cubs Looking To Sell Ian Happ, Willson Contreras

The Chicago Cubs are once again in sell-mode. After a solid trade deadline last year — acquiring a bevy of prospects for names like Kris Bryant and Javier Baez — they’ll try to replicate the result with catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Ian Happ.

Contreras, a three-time All-Star, is having a solid hitting year (14 home runs, .373 slugging percentage) but Passan notes some teams are wary. “Multiple teams, sources said, worry about Contreras — who is not known for his game-calling acumen — meshing with a new pitching staff on the fly,” he said.

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Of course, this is a new-look MLB, which helps Contreras’ case. With DH now in the NL, teams could acquire Contreras for his bat and give him occasional starts at catcher.

Meanwhile, Ian Happ has had a revival, batting .282/.366/.446 with nine home runs and 46 RBIs. Happ is controllable for 2023, is young (he turns just 28 next month), has solid defensive skills, and is a switch-hitter (he’s hitting .346 against left-hand pitching as a right-handed batter).

Among the other batters who could be moved include Kansas City’s Andrew Benintendi and Mike Moustakas (though with the latter likely as a salary dump), Washington’s Josh Bell, and Baltimore’s Trey Mancini.

baseball

Grading MLB’s Biggest Offseason Moves At The Season’s Midway Point

With the MLB season reaching the All-Star break, it presents a time to look back and grade how game-changing deals made in the offseason have turned out so far.

Some look to be steals, while others long to perhaps cripple a franchise more than aid them over the next several years. Which players live up to the hype? Let’s find out.

Mets sign Max Scherzer to three years, $130 million

New York made waves by nabbing Scherzer to a $130 million deal while adding to an extremely impressive rotation that also features Cy Young winner Jacob DeGrom.

So far, that contract has shown two extremes. The first is Scherzer’s potential. He’s gone 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 2.6 WAR in 11 games, being the ace expected of him.

The second is the potential risks. Scherzer missed nearly seven weeks with an oblique strain, and at 37, injuries could only become more frequent. As long as he can stay healthy, however, this is a win for the Mets.

Grade: B+

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Phillies sign Kyle Schwarber to four years, $79 million

Kyle Schwarber wasn’t even the Phillies’ biggest offseason signing (that honor belongs to Nick Castellanos). However, the move has paid huge dividends, and might even be what saves Philadelphia’s season. Thus far into 2022, Schwarber is first in the National League (and second in MLB) in home runs with 29.

Obviously, there are some areas of concern with Schwarber. He’s hitting .208 and has 120 strikeouts, putting him on pace for a career season-high. Production in scoring opportunities is also alarming: Schwarber’s hitting .215 with RISP, and .198 with men on base.

Still, Schwarber pulling the weight after 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper went down with a thumb injury has been critical to the Phillies’ playoff push, and any hope of securing a division title or wildcard no doubt rests with him.

Grade: B

Astros sign Justin Verlander to two years, $50 million

After missing all but one game in 2020 and all of 2021, no one exactly knew what to expect of the 39-year-old Verlander. It showed with the New York Yankees, who offered Verlander $25 million but on a one-year deal.

The Astros were smart enough to offer Verlander the same deal, but with a 2023 player option at $25 million. What a decision that’s turned out to be. Verlander currently leads the American League in wins with 12, which goes nicely with a dazzling 1.89 ERA, 0.878 WHIP, and 108 strikeouts over 109.1 innings.

Verlander’s deal was certainly a high-risk, high-reward situation for Houston, and they put their faith in the nine-time All-Star to reward them for it. He delivered, making this probably the best signing of the offseason.

Grade: A+

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Rockies sign Kris Bryant to seven years, $182 million

Colorado shocked the baseball world by signing Kris Bryant to a seven-year deal at a value of $26 million per year. When he’s played, Bryant’s produced like many thought he would. Through 33 games, he’s batting .302/.366/.460 with four home runs and 12 RBIs.

Unfortunately, everything that made the signing originally bizarre still remains. Why didn’t the Rockies just keep Nolan Arenado, which actually would have been cheaper in the long run? Why didn’t they use that money to try and fill in multiple holes? Why even spend if you’re trying to save?

Due to Bryant’s unlucky back injury, the Rockies’ big splash has equaled a 43-50 record, good for fourth in the NL West. Unless Colorado’s pitching staff or protection around Bryant suddenly shapes up, that’s perhaps all they’ll ever see during the former MVP’s tenure there.

Grade: D

Rangers sign Corey Seager to 10 years, $325 million

Seager’s first season of his mega-contract has been a mixed bag. His slugging numbers are great: he’s at 22 home runs and 52 RBIs through 88 games. That would be him on pace for around 40 home runs and 100 RBIs, both would-be career-highs.

But his batting average is lacking. .251 for a career .291 hitter is unacceptable given the circumstances. Defense is also a negative, with Seager putting up 11 errors and a -7 Rtot through 746.1 innings fielded.

Still, given Seager’s resume, expect him to bring his batting totals back up to speed sooner than later.

Grade: C+

Celtics

Boston Celtics Complete Comeback As They Steal Game 1 Of NBA Finals Away From Golden State Warriors

After a 38 point third quarter performance by the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Chase Center Thursday night, it looked like the Boston Celtics were all but finished. Of course, it’s not truly the Finals without some dramatics.

Facing a 12 point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter, the Celtics put up 40 points — while holding the Warriors to just 16 — en route to a 120-108 victory. Helping Boston was their deadly accuracy beyond the three-point line: they made 21 three’s (21-for-41, 51.2%), with seven coming in the fourth.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Boston became the first team in NBA Finals history to win by double-digits after entering the fourth quarter trailing by double-digits. In the playoffs, teams have been 1-31 when trailing by 12 or more entering the fourth.

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Al Horford led the way for the Celtics, scoring 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting with six rebounds. Horford also led the team with six three-pointers. Despite a pitiful 3-for-17 (17.6%), Jayson Tatum contributed 13 assists and a +16 +/-, while Jaylen Brown scored 24 points and six rebounds.

Off the bench, Derrick White had a +25 +/- while shooting 6-for-11 with 21 points. White went 5-for-8 (62.5%) from the three point line. On the opposite side, the Golden State Warriors — who have appeared in six of the last eight Finals — wasted a 34 point performance (along with seven three’s) from two-time MVP Seth Curry. Andrew Wiggins contributed 20 points.

There are plenty of defining statistics that help to show why the Celtics were able to turn the tide in the final quarter. Along with their three-pointers, Boston put up a 88.6% effective field-goal percentage, the highest mark any team has put up against Golden State in any quarter this season.

Boston also topped Golden State in overall offensive rating (129.0 to 114.9), net rating (14.1 to -14.1), and assist ratio (23.7 to 17.6). Of course, grit was needed to pull off such an impressive rally. Tatum, who acknowledged his less-than-stellar performance, explained the team knew what was required of them.

“The message at the start of the fourth was, ‘We’ve been here before. We know what it takes to overcome a deficit like that. Obviously that’s a great team. It’s not going to be easy. But just knowing we’ve been in that situation before and we’ve gotten our self out of it.”

With no players on the roster having been to the Finals before, Boston experienced slip-ups, as evident by their defense crumbling in the third. Still, the team knows pushing forward is the answer. “Just continue to play. That was our message throughout the whole game,” Horford said. “They’re such a good team. And for us, it was just, you know, continue to play no matter what.”

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Clearly, Boston’s combination of Brown and Tatum left Golden State struggling on the defensive side. “When [Brown’s] making shots like that and you’re slow to rotate, it’s just another threat that you got to worry about,” Curry said. He credited White’s clutch shooting as well. “Those two guys are key. You hope they don’t stay that hot, but you also have to do something about it.”

History suggests that Golden State letting the win slip through their fingers doesn’t bode well for the Finals outcome. The winner of Game 1 of the NBA Finals wins the series 70.7% (53-22) of the time, while the Celtics are 13-1 in the Finals after winning game 1.

“They played well. We know they’re a good team, so we got to respond on Sunday,” Curry said. The Warriors will look to get back on track in Game 2, which is set for June 5 at 8:00 p.m. ET.