Ever hit one and wonder how it got over the fence?

On top of all that, players said they felt a certain aura about suddenly being part of a storied team like the Yankees.

“I’m pretty settled in right now, but the first time I came into this clubhouse — it’s eye-opening,” infielder Tyler Wade, also 22, told SN less than two weeks after his first game. “Not many people can say they came in this clubhouse as a player.”

Transitioning to the major leagues comes with its inherent challenges, but many of these young Yankees had an advantage: they all knew each other.

People tend to be nervous when they show up at a new job — or in a new locker room — but seeing familiar faces on the first day helps. Just ask Ji-Man Choi, who broke into the majors as an Angel in 2016 before making his Yankees debut earlier this month.

“For me it was a quick adjustment because I played with a lot of these guys in Scranton earlier in the year,” the Korean first baseman told SN through an interpreter. “I feel like I know the guys well. It was comfortable and was a quick adjustment coming up to the big leagues.”

Question: Ever hit one and wonder how it got over the fence?
Answer: “Maybe a couple. But usually when you’re rounding the bases, you’re not thinking ‘How’d that go out?’ You’re like, ‘Yeah, that just went out. I wish I was a free agent!’”
(Calm down, Reds fans. He was kidding with that last part.)

That said, the Bombers did not have to part with other top-echelon prospects such as Jorge Mateo, Miguel Andujar or Chance Adams. That’s why the White Sox’s grade took a hit.

Diamondbacks get J.D. Martinez from Tigers
Players involved: J.D. Martinez (to Diamondbacks); Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King (to Tigers)

the league stopped recalling and destroying licensed merchandise from the losing Super Bowl team in 1996

Warner, who was named NFL MVP in 1999 and 2001, helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV. He went back to the Super Bowl with the Cardinals in 2008. Warner’s 208 career touchdown passes ties him with Jay Cutler and Kerry Collins for 35th all-time. But his 93.7 career passer rating is 10th all-time.

“Kurt Warner will always be remembered as one of the NFL’s most outstanding quarterbacks,” Rams owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement released by the team. “His journey from working the aisles of a grocery store to winning two NFL MVP awards serves as a reminder to never stop pursing your dreams.

“The Rams enjoyed an incredible run, which included our first Super Bowl title, in large part to his leadership and toughness. Off the field, he and his wife, Brenda, devoted their lives to serving others, and thousands continue to benefit from their outreach initiatives. For these reasons and many more, we congratulate Kurt and his family on this ultimate honor.”

According to The Guardian, the league stopped recalling and destroying licensed merchandise from the losing Super Bowl team in 1996. Instead, the NFL began a charity initiative by working with an outside agency to send the goods to underprivileged countries like Zambia, Nicaragua, Armenia and El Salvador where the game outcome isn’t culturally relevant and the need for clothing outweighs whatever message is printed on it.

The uniqueness of a cap with the wrong Super Bowl winner has made the gear almost as valuable as Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.

“It’s just a different world now, so everybody wants that hat,” Aichinger told co-host Gil Brandt and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “That’s one of first questions I always get — ‘What do you do with the hats that aren’t used?'”

Aichinger and his staff received their Super Bowl 51 cap shipment Tuesday — “They’re under lock and key,” he said — and will review it Friday at NRG Stadium.seahawks_027

NFL Draft 2017: Emotional Joe Mixon didn’t know how far he’d fall

Joe Mixon said he had no idea how far his off-field controversy would see him fall in the 2017 NFL Draft after being taken by the Bengals in round two.

In terms of talent, Mixon was regarded by many as the best running back in the class following a stellar on-field career at Oklahoma.

However, Mixon had been considered undraftable by some teams in the league after a video emerged of him striking a woman in a 2014 assault late last year.

But the Bengals put their faith in him with pick No. 48, leaving an emotional Mixon to reflect on an arduous process.

He told a conference call of his reaction to being drafted: “It was very emotional. I’m still sitting here crying. I can’t believe it. Very thankful. Very honoured to be a part of the Cincinnati Bengals.”

Kizer made some waves prior to the draft saying he had Cam Newton’s body and Tom Brady’s brain, but the fact is he’s a very smart and physically gifted player, and it makes sense if a team wanted to draft him and let him sit behind a proven quarterback like Aaron Rodgers.

Now, as Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders commented on Rapoport’s tweet, it might not be the smartest move considering the Packers already have Brett Hundley on their roster.

Both have big arms and big frames, but both struggled with accuracy and footwork in college. They would essentially be drafting two of the same player if they take Kizer.

However, the Packers may be throwing Kizer’s name out there to see if any team wants to trade into the spot and then move back down again in what is one of the deepest second rounds of an NFL Draft at several positions in recent history.

Take what you will of this rumor, but also understand the Packers are a savvy organization. They could very easily just be stirring the pot to see if anyone wants their pick.

There was a lot of talk about the 49ers being a natural destination for Kirk Cousins

It would be smart for New York to trade down to restock a depleted roster, but one of its biggest needs remains quarterback. Trubisky may well be the man to stand atop a depth chart that currently features Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, but a little gamesmanship could only help the franchise. The Jets could get a better player than Trubisky at No. 6, but not a better passer. The bargain they’ll have to weigh is whether or not a potential haul for that pick would be worth passing up a shot to select the 2017 draft’s first quarterback.

It’s hard to get a quarterback. If it were easy, nobody would settle for Hoyer and Barkley as their one and two. Trubisky, despite the fact that he only made 13 starts in college (13!!), looks like he has the raw skills that best translate into what teams want from an NFL starter — accurate with a quick release, at home in the pocket or outside of it, makes good decisions, etc.

(For my money, Deshaun Watson is still the better quarterback, at least in terms of overall raw skills.)

There was a lot of talk about the 49ers being a natural destination for Kirk Cousins, since Kyle Shanahan helped coach him into a starter. But Washington’s internal dysfunction subsided enough that Cousins signed the franchise tag and put the two sides on the road to reconciliation, for now.

In the best-case scenario, the 49ers would have to wait a year for Cousins to hit free agency, and if he did, they’d have to pay him oodles of money that he might not be worth, especially for a team with so many needs.nike_cardinals_1237

NFL Draft: Bears can put safety first, think O-line over QB

The defensive secondary is a critical position group to address, more so safety than cornerback. So far this offseason, it’s been mainly veteran patchwork with the signings of Quintin Demps and Prince Amukamara. Chicago desperately needs the playmaking, all-around safety it has lacked since Mike Brown. Either LSU’s Jamal Adams or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker would be a perfect pick at No. 3, but don’t rule out Ohio State’s best corner prospect, Marshon Lattimore.

The Bears also are facing needs at inside linebacker and defensive end for their 3-4. No. 3 overall is a little too early for Alabama’s Reuben Foster at the former position, unless they are able to trade down, but Alabama’s Jonathan Allen likely will be available. By not going QB, Chicago is guaranteed not to reach for someone on the other side of the ball.

“Sometimes kids think they know it all,” Jim Kelly said then. “Chad’s like a lot of other kids. Sometimes your mom, dad or uncle have advice and you think you know better. It’s part of maturing — how much do you really want this?”

Chad Kelly got into legal trouble before he landed in Oxford. He reportedly fought with bouncers and police officers in Buffalo in late 2014. The Buffalo News said Kelly was accused — though it wasn’t clear by whom — of telling bouncers, “I’m going to go to my car and get my AK-47 and spray this place.”

Kelly later took a non-criminal plea deal and agreed to community service. He didn’t get into any similar trouble during his two seasons at Ole Miss.

And at the highlight of Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze era, when the Rebels won the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2015 season, Jim sat in the Superdome in New Orleans to watch — way, way up in the nosebleeds.

This is the same Bulls team that almost missed the playoffs.

Justice, a Democrat, “has sought” to replace Holliday with former Thundering Herd head coach Bob Pruett, the report says. Pruett coached the Herd from 1996 to 2004 and went 94-23.

The Gazette-Mail’s Jake Jarvis writes that Justice summoned Marshall’s university president for a meeting in December, when he was still governor-elect.

“It was not a meeting to say, ‘Fire the coach and hire Pruett,’” Justice’s chief of staff told the newspaper in a statement. “It was a meeting to say, ‘Ratchet up your game and do something to get yourself back to greatness.’”

The school president, Jerome Gilbert, said Justice merely “wanted to talk.”

“I probably shouldn’t comment on any of that,” Gilbert told the Gazette-Mail. “I want to maintain a good relationship with the governor, and it’s unfortunate that this information got out.”

This is the same Bulls team that almost missed the playoffs.

Chicago finished the season 41-41, tied with the Miami Heat. Had they not held the tie-breaker, they could have been on the outside looking in. But the Bulls proved they belong in the playoffs now with a strong Game 1 win over the Celtics.

The last time a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed in the first-round opener, it was the Atlanta Hawks beating the Indiana Pacers in 2014. The Hawks went on to lose that series, but the loss served as a stark reminder that the top seeds aren’t at all impervious to defeat.

Chicago now has its paws on this series. And if the Bulls can keep it up, they’re just a few pellets away from knocking Goliath out of the postseason early on.


New England subjectively won 12 of the 15 years in which Belichick made draft day trades

I mentioned this in the most recent Pictures Video, but it’s amusing how Gobert scares great players out of even trying to score. Watch John Wall quickly backpedal after he gets an advantage on his man in the pick and roll.

The Rockets take a lot of long shots, and long missed shots end up in long rebounds. That’s why it’s a good thing they have Beverley. No guard is better at reading weird caroms off the rim and flying to the ball wherever it lands.

New England subjectively won 12 of the 15 years in which Belichick made draft day trades. The Patriots made 54 deals, 33 of which involved trading for higher picks. That propensity to accrue picks in later rounds has been even stronger this decade. Since 2010, 16 of the team’s 22 deals — or 73 percent — have involved the Patriots giving up the higher selection in exchange for multiple picks later that draft or a higher selection the following year.

If history is any indication, Bill Belichick will make three trades on draft day, two of which give the Patriots more selections in later rounds. Odds are pretty good they’ll come out on the winning end of those deals, too.

The biggest draft needs for the Steelers are at outside linebacker and cornerback, so they shouldn’t have any problem addressing one of those at the end of the first round. King gives the team a 6’3 defensive back who can play physically and has exceptional ball skills.nike_steelers_2380

Texans should draft a quarterback now that Tony Romo is retired. Who’s the best fit?

Tony Romo seemed like the perfect solution to the Houston Texans’ ongoing quarterback woes. Now he’s putting the NFL behind him to pursue a career in broadcasting, leaving the Texans scrambling for a Plan B.

Bill O’Brien had a reputation as a college coach for quality quarterback development, but that hasn’t carried over to the NFL. Since he was hired by Houston prior to the 2014 season, there’s been a revolving door of quarterbacks. None of them have been particularly successful.

Romo would have been a great fit, and he said during a press conference Tuesday that Houston was tempting.

The Pelicans haven’t met expectations before or after trading for DeMarcus Cousins. Gentry is probably out the day after the regular season ends.

Hoiberg was right there with Gentry as a candidate for an in-season dismissal. He survived the season (well, so far) but the summer doesn’t look so comforting.

And now this. No NHL players at the Olympics, the one event where literally the entire world is paying attention. At some point (maybe it was the two lockouts in one decade) fans stopped believing the men in charge of the league know what’s best for the sport. That it comes on the heels of the league’s failure of a World Cup of Hockey or the league’s ongoing concussion lawsuit mess doesn’t help that perception.

D’Antoni took over a clearly talented team that underwhelmed in 2017-16.

If ever the coach of a .500 team deserved Coach of the Year, it’s Spoelstra right now. There’s no realm in which anyone thought Miami, with its 11-30 record in mid-January, would end up in the playoff race with LeBron and Wade gone, Bosh out, and Justise Winslow injured. But Spo has turned Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, and Dion Waiters into the core of a juggernaut! If Spoelstra doesn’t win Coach of the Year, perhaps we can nominate him for a Nobel.

Like Brooks, D’Antoni took over a clearly talented team that underwhelmed in 2017-16. Perhaps even more impressive than Brooks’ work to elevate the unreliable youth, D’Antoni has helped unleash James Harden, the likely MVP, and create a wholly inspiring attack while winning tons of games. (Houston is on track for about 57 wins.) A Coach of the Year trophy would also be a nice form of penance from the media for all the dismissive analysis we’ve given to D’Antoni since he left Phoenix.

This is a classic Coach of the Year case. A new coach arrives at an underperforming franchise, takes a couple months to get the house in order, turns a young player or two into stars, and puts together the team’s best record in decades. The Wizards need to finish 5-4 to win 50 games a year after missing the playoffs. That’s huge! Brooks’ involvement in turning Bradley Beal into a reliable scoring star, Otto Porter into a max player, and Kelly Oubre into a key defender will be smiled upon by voters.

The boy wizard won over LeBron at All-Star, molded an unwieldy, guard-heavy roster into an elite team, and helped Isaiah Thomas become a flat-out star and local legend. Stevens has the juice of a top NBA prospect as a coach. That tells you something. He’d be an excellent Coach of the Year option.

Mike Pouncey missed Miami’s game against San Diego on Sunday

Greg Knopping of Pats Pulpit is staying positive despite a tough loss:

Overall, as painful as the final result is, especially when considering the call, this isn’t a bad loss. The Patriots were on the road, against a very good NFC team, and played some of their best football of the year on offense. And for those keeping track at home, yes, this is the Patriots second loss of the season on a highly questionable call. But I think I can speak for most Patriots fans when I say that they’ll be happy with bad breaks now if the good breaks come for the Patriots in the playoffs.

With Moore out, the Broncos signed free agent Michael Huff. Huff signed with the Baltimore Ravens during the offseason and was expected to play a significant role. Things didn’t work out in Baltimore, and he was released in October. Huff has spent time at both cornerback and safety and is familiar with the AFC West, having played seven seasons with Oakland.

Mike Pouncey missed Miami’s game against San Diego on Sunday, and could potentially be out much longer. Doctors are reportedly trying to avoid gallbladder surgery, but it remains a possibility. The plan for now is to see if medicine can cure Pouncey’s illness instead of resorting to surgery.

If not, and a procedure is required, Pouncey would likely miss an extended period of time and possibly the rest of the season. As Kevin Nogle of the Phinsider wrote, Pouncey’s ability to play through pain will be a key factor in whether surgery is required.