Early Signs of Doom for MLB’s Expected 2019 Contenders

The 2019 Major League Baseball season has only been going for three weeks and change, but the expected status quo is already in jeopardy.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

To wit, a few teams that were expected to be heavy hitters in the American League and National League playoff races are off to slow starts that are laced with signs of lasting doom.

We will focus on seven in particular, plus a few dishonorable mentions. These teams have been worse than anticipated out of the gate, with flaws that run the gamut from offensive, defensive and pitching problems to plain ol’ injury issues.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

We’ll start in the AL East and work our way to the NL West.

Record: 12-10, 2nd in AL East

Relative to the 100 games they won in 2018, the New York Yankees’ early record is a massive disappointment. Considering who occupies their injured list, it could be worse.

Currently out of commission for the Yankees are outfielders Aaron Judge,cheap nfl nike jerseys from china  Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury, infielders Didi Gregorius, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki and Greg Bird, catcher Gary Sanchez and pitchers Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Ben Heller and Jordan Montgomery.

What’s more, many of these injuries are of the serious variety. Per the official MLB.com tracker, only Stanton and Sanchez are expected back before the end of April.nike nfl cheap jerseys
The big concern right now is how long Judge, a two-time All-Star and elite power supply, will be out with the oblique injury he sustained on Saturday. Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters it’s a “pretty significant” injury.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap
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These injuries hardly constitute a roster construction flaw, yet they’re nonetheless a harsh reality that New York has to deal with. This season will be a success story only if the Yankees ultimately rise above their current .500-ish pace.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Record: 9-13, 4th in AL East

The Boston Red Sox’s starting rotation has been knocked around, yet hope has materialized. Per MLB.com’s Dawn Klemish, Boston starters went from an 8.79 through their first 13 games to a 3.21 ERA over their next nine. cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Now it’s the Boston offense’s turn to get going, because this isn’t pretty:

2018: .792 OPS and 5.4 R/G
2019: .691 OPS and 4.2 R/G

Apart from J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland, nobody is free from blame for the Red Sox’s offensive downfall. That includes reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts, who’s gone from a 1.078 OPS to a pedestrian .783. In his own words, what he’s doing is “unacceptable.”nike jerseys nfl cheap

The guys in the Red Sox’s lineup also need to shape up on the other side of the ball. The club’s defense ranks 24th in efficiency, rooted in some truly sloppy play.

It should bode well that the Red Sox have carried over essentially the same lineup that led the charge to 108 wins and a World Series title in 2018. But there’s clearly a hangover effect in play right now, and such things have been known to last.

Houston Rockets’ Dominant Start to Playoffs Is Worse for Utah Jazz Than It Seems

From the first time James Harden had the ball in Sunday’s 122-90 win over the Utah Jazz, it was clear he’d face the gimmicky defense the Milwaukee Bucks threw at him in the regular season.nike nfl jerseys from china

Ricky Rubio basically sat on his left shoulder. He wasn’t just trying to take that direction away from Harden. He was all but begging him to go right, as seen in this tweet from NBC’s Brody Logan:

Even in a 32-point drubbing, several things went right for the Jazz.womens nfl jersey

They more than doubled Houston’s attempts from the line (27 to 12).best price nfl jerseys
They had Harden somewhat contained.hi-res-456a6e27becfb7f564abbac73092b47a_crop_north
Ricky Rubio went 5-of-11 for 15 points.
Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 12 rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting.

That first bullet point could become a trend—the Jazz actually topped the Rockets in both free-throw attempts and free-throw-attempt rate this season—but it’s not likely to be that lopsided.

The huge disparity had a lot to do with Harden only getting to the line three times. In Houston’s gentlemen’s sweep of Utah last season, he took 8.6 free throws per game. Good luck keeping him off the stripe.

As for Rubio, his numbers are encouraging but maybe a bit of a mirage. He was more efficient than usual and scored a few more points than his season average. But Houston will live with Rubio jumpers all series.nfl jerseys women

The Rockets will stay home on Gobert’s rolls to the rim and hug up on Donovan Mitchell whenever Rubio has the ball. Letting either of them get loose would be far more damaging than a solid game from the pass-first point guard.

And then there’s Gobert. Individually, he was great. Last year, he was fine, too. In the five-game series against Houston, he averaged 12.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while shooting 71.4 percent from the field.

But Utah was minus-19.0 points per 100 possessions when Gobert was on the floor in that series—the worst net rating of any player on the team, according to NBA.com. Sunday, he was a team-worst minus-23.the authentic nfl jerseys

Houston may have figured out the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.official nfl nike jerseys

Playing Derrick Favors more at the 5 might help. His net rating against Houston last postseason was still comfortably in the red, but minus-9.3 is better than minus-19.0. On Sunday, he was the only Jazz player with a positive plus-minus.where to get nfl jerseys

He’s a bit more switchable on the perimeter than Gobert, but this honestly might just be grasping at straws. The Rockets will still funnel him plenty of the same pick-your-poison scenarios as the one seen above.nfl jerseys china nike

And again, this all happened on a night during which Harden was relatively contained. Things can go better for the Rockets than they did Sunday, especially when he clicks.clearance nfl jerseys

“I’ve literally seen every strategy defensively teams can possibly do,” Harden said during the postgame press conference.nfl jersey for sale

This is likely more of an off night than any sort of solution Utah has discovered. And that’s terrifying for anyone in Houston’s path.

Tobias Harris Is the NBA’s Swiss Army Knife

Tobias Harris had a gut feeling he would be traded. He didn’t have any information a week before the Feb. 7 trade deadline to suggest the Los Angeles Clippers would ship him out, but after he’d been traded four times before, a move felt imminent.buy nfl jerseys online

“I just felt the vibe,” Harris says. “It’s weird to describe, but it’s all about the situation, time, place and dynamic. I saw where we were as a team, and I just felt something was happening behind the scenes. And the deal happened.”cheap nfl jersey store

He felt so strongly about his intuition that he told forward Mike Scott and later teammates Avery Bradley and Tyrone Wallace his thoughts at dinner after a loss to the Raptors. “A trade is going to happen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m in it,” Harris said. They didn’t believe anything would happen.
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Two days later, fresh off hitting a game-winner against the Hornets, Harris was watching Netflix when he got the call. Doc Rivers informed him he had been traded to the 76ers.

The experience wasn’t new to Harris, now on his fifth team in eight seasons. When the Bucks traded him to the Magic in February 2013, Harris was working out and saw the news flash on the gym’s television before he received the call. nike nfl jerseys sale He was taking a nap when the Magic sent him to the Pistons in February 2016. He woke up to missed calls and texts. Harris was in his Detroit home watching film on the next opponent, the Cavaliers, when Stan Van Gundy informed him he was headed to the Clippers in January 2018.authentic nfl jerseys from china

Harris has been a significant trade asset due to his work ethic, yearly improvement and reputation as the consummate teammate. But rarely has he been considered a core piece, which has discouraged him in his quest to find a stable situation.nfl authentic jerseys china

“I go about my game in a different way—a way where I just handle my business,” Harris says. cheap personalized nfl jerseys

“People sleep on me for sure.”nfl jerseys official

He’s found the perfect fit in Philadelphia, among an organization and fanbase that has quickly embraced his unselfish, Swiss Army knife brand of basketball. Though he will become an  cheap baby nfl jerseys unrestricted free agent this summer, Harris will play a nfl best jerseys  significant role in Philadelphia’s title hopes this postseason alongside Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler.

Ozzie Albies, Braves Reportedly Agree to 7-Year, $35 Million Contract Extension

The Atlanta Braves have locked up another one of their young stars after they reportedly agreed to an extension with second baseman Ozzie Albies. nfl jersey for sale

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported the official nfl nike jerseys  news. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the deal is for $35 million over seven years with two option years.

The Braves already locked up reigning National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. with an eight-year, $100 million extension that includes two option seasons. hi-res-0059674c8e5d4622961c44ecea8b7888_crop_north

Albies has established himself as a key piece of Atlanta’s roster since his 2017 big league debut. He hit with 20 extra-base hits in 57 games as a 20-year-old.  clearance nfl jerseys
In his first full season last year, the authentic nfl jerseys Albies helped the Braves win the NL East for the first time since 2013. He was named to the NL All-Star team and posted  slash line and finished second on Atlanta with 24 homers and 289 total bases.where to get nfl jerseys

The Braves have a strong combination of young and veteran talent to build around as they pursue their first World Series title since 1995. Locking up Albies (22) and Acuna (21) gives them long-term stability.nfl jerseys china nike

Yasiel Puig, David Bell Ejected After Benches Clear in Pirates vs. Reds

The culture of retaliation in baseball remains a controversial topic, as many position players don’t like pitchers throwing at them simply because they flip their bats, pause in the batter’s box to admire a moonshot or simply show some emotion in the moment. nfl jerseys china nike

While many pitchers contend they don’t like being shown up, the counterargument remains that pitchers shouldn’t give up homers in the first place if they don’t want to see opposing players have a passionate response to the most exciting play in baseball—the home run.hi-res-be9c094a8b0b7e4aa414cb26ead3d680_crop_north

Philadelphia Phillies superstar Bryce Harper brought the growing divide on the topic to light in 2016, telling Tim Keown of ESPN The Magazine that he had no issue with emotion in the game and felt it was important to cultivate, nfl jersey for sale rather than stifle, that passion, using the late Jose Fernandez as an example:

“Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling—hoorah …nike nfl jerseys on sale  if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot … I mean—sorry.”

“If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound where to buy nfl jersey , I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time,'” Harper added. “That’s what makes the game fun.”

Major League Baseball even promoted the sport with a china nfl jerseys nike “Let the Kids Play”women nfl jersey  campaign, which highlighted moments of passion and took aim at the game’s antiquated unwritten rules.

But some players aren’t keen to see the unwritten rules go by the wayside. Archer is apparently among them.women’s authentic nfl jerseys

March Madness in April? These NBA Playoff Teams Could Be Cinderellas

In a seven-game NBA series, hot shooting or some other unforeseen anomaly has far less impact than in a single-elimination tournament. That’s largely why we’ve only seen four No. 7 or No. 8 seeds advance since the league went to a seven-game first-round format in 2003.nike nfl jerseys from china

But that’s a coward’s way to think. Who needs to hedge at this time of year?c8f3eed25385e4a51aafc3528d9d23f0_crop_exact

The search for an NBA Cinderella has to start with the possibility of a first-round upset. That’s the threshold requirement for such a team. There’s also got to be an underdog element that extends beyond the seeding disadvantage. Any true Cinderella best price nfl jerseys has to overcome a serious talent discrepancy, creating the storybook feel we associate with success against long odds.

If a team is missing a star (or never had one in the first place), that’s a good start. If there’s reason to believe regular-season success, such as it was, came via smoke and mirrors, even better. These teams have to seem overmatched. But they also need to have a narrow avenue—favorable matchups, experience advantages or strategic edges—that could lead to an upset.

We’re supposed to doubt them…until they stun us into belief. nfl jerseys women

The second half of the season hasn’t been kind to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

A defense that ranked first in mid-January is tied for 14th since then, and OKC’s offense has been suspect all year. With field-goal accuracy rates that rank 19th at the rim, 30th from mid-range and 23rd from deep, the Thunder enter the postseason as one of the most vulnerable teams in the league.official nfl nike jerseys

They’re slated to draw the untested Denver Nuggets in the first round. And that, folks, raises the possibility of an upset.the authentic nfl jerseys

Please appreciate how ridiculous that statement should look in light of OKC’s 0-4 record against the Nuggets this year. Those four losses came by an average of nine points per game, and both Paul George and Russell Westbrook played in every meeting. There’s no mistaking the Nuggets’ regular-season ownership of the Thunder.where to get nfl jerseys

The key word for Lions GM Bob Quinn during free agency: Versatility

It’s a word you should be used to by now if you’ve been following the NFL for any length of time, or at least the Detroit Lions since Bob Quinn took over as general manager in early 2016: versatility.

Or, put another way, position flexibility.nfl jerseys for sale

When Quinn looked at some of the bigger signings the Lions made during free agency earlier this month, those two descriptors kept coming up. They popped up with Justin Coleman and Trey Flowers. And while it wasn’t mentioned specifically, the fact that players such as Zach Zenner, Tommylee Lewis and Danny Amendola could be versatile enough to have special-teams and offensive roles only increased their value.

So the more you can do, the more it makes sense for you to be in Detroit. Take Flowers, whom the Lions gave $90 million — $56 million guaranteed — to serve as a replacement for Ezekiel Ansah as an edge rusher.authentic nfl jerseyi

“Feel he’s going to be able to be a three-down player for us,” Quinn told reporters Monday at the owners meetings in Phoenix. “And really increase that level of play across the defensive line and obviously play multiple positions personalized nfl jerseys cheap , so that was a guy we targeted, obviously.” free nfl jerseys

Flowers can play all over the defensive line, and the Lions are hoping his production at least matches, if not surpasses, the 7.5 sacks he had in New England last season — and eventually, the 21 sacks he’s registered since the Patriots drafted him in 2015. Quinn then talked about Coleman, who played some on the outside in New England and was an inside corner for two years in Seattle.

The same description came up: “Position versatility,” because that’s something that’s always been important to Quinn.nike nfl jersey

“Position versatility, for sure, is key,” Quinn said. “Going forward he’s more inside than outside but we’re going to kind of go through the process and see how he fits within our group.”

Based on Detroit’s moves thus far, the outside corner spot opposite Darius Slay is loaded with questions as Rashaan Melvin, Mike Ford and Teez Tabor compete for the role. But if the Lions feel good with, say, Jamal Agnew in the slot, Coleman could end up playing both outside and inside in Detroit.nfl jerseys sale

It was clear how much Detroit valued the onetime Patriots. The Lions targeted Flowers and Coleman early in free agency and got both deals done fast, giving the two nearly $74 million in guaranteed money.wholesale nfl jersey

“There’s certain years you can be more aggressive than others, and I think with the money that we paid those guys, the contracts speak to what we think of ’em,” Quinn said. “And that they can help us win games, and that’s the bottom

Lions will accept consequences of ‘Hard Knocks’ if chosen

The Detroit Lions – as closed off as the franchise might want to be – has been pretty open and transparent about one thing: There is little to no interest in being on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” For months now, general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia have been campaigning against it.

They even suggested at the team’s season ticket holder summit how good of a candidate the Oakland Raiders and Jon Gruden would be – and that was before the franchise traded for Antonio Brown. At the end of all of it, though,nfl jerseys for cheap authentic  the Lions also know they have little actual say in the matter.

If HBO wants the Lions, the Lions will have to comply.

“It’s an interesting thing because obviously we’re one of the teams, as you all know, that could be forced to be on it,” Lions team president Rod Wood told reporters at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday. “I’d much rather end up in a  nfl jersey supply position of not being forced to be on it.i

“Since we’re in that position I guess cheapest nfl jerseys we’ll have to live with the consequences of what they decide.”official nfl jerseys

Wood said there haven’t been any “direct conversation” about whether the Lions would be the team the popular television show chooses for the year. And he also wasn’t sure about the timetable for a decision, although in past years the decision has usually come down in April or May.wholesale authentic nfl jerseys

He also didn’t know if the Lions were still under consideration or had been eliminated from those talks. Detroit is one of five teams that would have to do the show if asked. The others are the Raiders, Giants, Redskins and 49ers.buy nfl jerseys

There is a thought, of course, that doing the show could help the marketing side of a team, but Wood said they would prefer not to be in this position.

“There’s the episodic viewing of it on HBO and does that help the brand somewhat depends on how well it goes, I think,” Wood said. “As I said, I’d much rather not be qualified for it. Let’s be in the playoffs, not be one of the teams that are eligible.”womens nfl jerseys

While the Raiders seem like the obvious option, here’s something to consider. nfl nike jerseys That franchise might be more intriguing in 2020 – if you work with the thought that Oakland isn’t going to fire Gruden and on paper seem like a non-favorite to make the playoffs – when the club is expected to start play in Las Vegas.

Sam Martin’s ‘inspiring’ trip to the Special Olympics World Games

Sam Martin stepped up to the podium in Abu Dhabi, ribbon in hand. In front of him, the athletes were there, waiting. They had come from all over the world to compete in gymnastics. The Detroit Lions punter, halfway across the world watching athletes who were mostly unfamiliar with the sport he plays, was about to give them their awards.

It sounds like a small thing. discount nfl jerseys free shipping It was anything but. It turned into something that’s going to stick with Martin forever.

Martin walked up to the first girl, a competitor from El Salvador, and gave her the eighth-place ribbon for her work on the floor exercise.i

She didn’t win. It didn’t matter cheap nfl jerseys authentic. With the Special Olympics, it is as much about the journey as the result.

“You could just tell how happy and proud she was,” Martin said. “That, for sure, is something that — and I was lucky enough to put a few ribbons around her neck, and she was just the cutest little girl, and she was just so happy and so proud and didn’t care if she finished first or 100th.

“She just had the best time,authentic nfl jerseys for cheap  you could tell that she was so happy with what she achieved. There’s so much correlation to just life in general that the inspiration that they provide is just incredible.”authentic nfl jerseys wholesale

Martin was one of a group of athletes — mostly former Olympians, including figure skater Michelle Kwan and gymnast Nastia Liukin — in Abu Dhabi as ambassadors for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games. They were there to offer nfl jersey china assistance and be a face for the spirit of inclusion in athletics and in life.nike nfl jerseys

For Martin, who had been training for the 2019 NFL season in Jupiter, Florida, this was a welcome break from his football training, allowing him to work with an organization he first supported in high school.china nfl jerseys

Kyrie Irving

First, Kyrie Irving was in, telling Boston Celtics season-ticket holders in October, “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.”cheap womens nfl jerseys

Then, he wasn’t necessarily out, but the depth of commitment he expressed in earlier comments seemed…shallower.

“Ask me July 1,”nfl jersey store  he told reporters when questioned about his free agency in February. And then, as if begging for nonstop aggregation, he said, “I don’t owe anybody s–t.”

Irving can opt out of his contract this summer and should expect max offers from the Knicks and Celtics. If he stays put, Boston could trade for Anthony Davis, who’d probably be more likely to re-sign in 2020 if Irving were locked into a deal as his running mate. If Irving bolts, Boston might not want to risk trading what it would take to get Davis without any assurance of keeping him long term.hi-res-7ca8e7e6b71441b1f2f4ec7409fd24ea_crop_exact

Suffice it to say nfl jerseys cheap jerseys  the Celtics are heavily incentivized to re-sign Irving if they can.my cheap nfl jerseys

Irving has been only intermittently supportive of teammates from the bench this year, sometimes appearing engaged, others visibly frustrated.

In early March, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported:

“Sources around the team told me that Irving’s persona has changed too: He’s become disengaged and detached from those around the team. There is talk that Irving’s friendships on the team start and end with [Jayson] Tatum, with whom he shares an agent. Two sources peg Irving’s change in demeanor to early February, around the time he was asked about the possibility of joining the New York Knicks next season.”nfl womens jerseys

The mercurial Irving will head into free agency with several options available to him. Good luck trying to guess his plans.nfl jerseys authentic

Prediction: Irving joins Durant in New York on a max contract.