Category Archives: Sports

Hitting coach Matt Stairs fired by Padres after just one season

In an almost annual exercise, the San Diego Padres are searching for a new hitting coach after Matt Stairs was fired Tuesday following just one year on the job.

The rebuilding Padres continued to rank at or near the bottom of the majors in key offensive stats under Stairs.

His replacement will be the Padres’ 10th hitting coach since Petco Park opened in 2004.

While saying that he felt Stairs did a good job with mostly younger players, general manager A.J. Preller said he and manager Andy Green decided that the team needed a different approach. The team is expected to promote someone from within the organization.

“We’re wanting a different message, a different voice,” Preller said. “We have some other guys in mind who have real upside. I’m pretty realistic that it was a younger roster, with developing players. From a performance standpoint we didn’t have tons of guys who improved. It’s not like the entire team overachieved. We did have some improvement, but at the end of the day, sitting down with Andy and talking about it, we thought maybe a different voice, a different connection point will hopefully lead to better performance.”

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Stairs was hired last offseason to replace Alan Zinter, who was fired on Sept. 1, 2017. Green said then that the team needed “a different voice” to tutor the batters.

Possible replacements include assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington and Morgan Burkhart, the hitting coach at Triple-A El Paso.

The Padres were last in the majors in on-base percentage at .297, tied for second-to-last with a .235 batting average and tied for third-to-last with a .380 slugging percentage. They had the second-most strikeouts, 1,523, or 9.4 per game.

Stairs spent the 2017 season as the hitting coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, his first professional coaching position. He played parts of 19 seasons in the major leagues with 12 different franchises, including the Padres in 2010.

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Texans place CB Kayvon Webster on Injured reserve

The Texans will place cornerback Kayvon Webster on injured reserve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. It’s currently unclear whether Webster will be a candidate to return later this year.

Webster spent the first four years of his career as a reserve with the Broncos but signed a two-year deal with the Rams last spring. The reunion with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips did not go as planned, and neither has his reboot with the Texans. Webster joined the club in late August, but an Achilles injury prevented him from playing in the first four games of the season. He returned this past week to face the Cowboys, but he suffered a quadriceps injury that will shut him down for a while.

On Tuesday, the Texans elevated defensive back Mike Tyson from the practice squad to help fill in for Webster. The Texans could elevate Shareece Wright to the starting lineup to replace Webster, or they could shift Kareem Jackson over from safety and use Justin Reid as a first-stringer in the middle.

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Tyson, 25, has never appeared in a regular-season game.

The Seahawks drafted him in the sixth round in 2017. They cut him out of the preseason, but he joined their practice squad and earned a promotion to the 53-player roster Dec. 16.

Tyson joined the Texans’ practice squad in September after he again failed to make the Seahawks’ roster.

Webster was signed by the Texans to a one-year deal worth $2.25 million back in August, but will now concentrate more on getting back to 100 percent form in time for next year’s free agency period. The 27-year old South Florida product previously suited up for the Los Angeles Rams, playing 11 games for the team last year before sustaining the aforementioned Achilles injury that ended his 2017 season.

The Texans, meanwhile, will look to get their third-straight victory this coming Sunday against the Buffalo Bills at home.

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Yankees turn to CC Sabathia with ALCS, season on line

For the 24th time in a postseason, Sabathia will be handed the ball Tuesday. This time it comes as his Yankees try to right their ship following Monday night’s jarring 16-1 loss to the rival Boston Red Sox. Down 2-1 in their American League Division Series, the Yankees are in must-win mode. Lose, and they’re eliminated.

“I know CC about as well as anybody,” fellow Yankees veteran Brett Gardner said. “I have the utmost confidence that he’s going to go out there and give us a chance to win.

“There’s probably no one better I’d rather have out there in a must-win game.”

Gardner isn’t the only one looking forward to having Sabathia on the mound for such a pivotal game. The husky lefty is embracing the opportunity as well.

“Yeah, I get excited for these games, for sure,” Sabathia said. “Just try to stay even-keeled and go out and pitch as best as I can.”

When it comes to elimination games, Sabathia’s best has been OK, but it could be better.

In five career postseason starts with his team facing elimination, Sabathia is 2-2 with a 3.76 ERA. His teams have gone 3-2 in those games.

Although Sabathia might not have always shown overpowering stuff in those contests, he still has had his share of strong playoff performances. Since he joined the Yankees in 2009, he has a 3.29 postseason ERA. In that same time period, his regular-season ERA is 3.74.

After allowing four or more earned runs in three of his first five career postseason starts, Sabathia has allowed that many in just three of his past 18.

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He believes that as he works through Boston’s dangerous lineup, he can lean on some of that recent playoff success.

“We’ll feel good about giving him the ball,” Aaron Boone said. “We feel like CC physically is in a good place right now coming off a really good start at the end of the year.”

Last time out, Sabathia took a no-hitter into the sixth inning at Tampa Bay before he hit a batter in retaliation, after teammate Austin Romine saw a fastball buzz past his head in the top half of the inning. Sabathia ended up being ejected for the retaliatory move, cutting short a masterful outing.

He had been pitching well enough to possibly finish the game. If given the opportunity to do so Tuesday, Sabathia would take it.

“When I start the game, I start the game to finish the game,” Sabathia said. “Obviously that don’t happen a lot for me anymore, but I mean, I want to pitch as long as I can and as deep as I can into the game.”

The Yankees could use a deep — and memorable — performance. Their season could depend on it.

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Drew Brees passes Peyton Manning as NFL’s all -time passing leader

Drew Brees passed Peyton Manning to become the N.F.L.’s leader in career passing yards, breaking the record in the second quarter of a 43-19 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday.

Brees, the prolific New Orleans Saints quarterback who is in his 18th season, came into the game in third place, behind both Manning’s 71,940 and Brett Favre’s 71,838. He passed Favre with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Josh Hill, and then exceeded Manning’s total with a 62-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Tre-Quan Smith.

Play was briefly suspended as Brees celebrated with teammates on the field before being greeted on the sideline by his family. The ball from the touchdown pass was immediately handed to a representative of the Pro Football Hall of Fame so it could make its way to Canton, Ohio.

A visibly excited Brees was overheard on the broadcast telling his children, “You can accomplish anything in life if you’re willing to work for it!”

His wife, Brittany, kept her eye on the prize, telling Brees “Go win this game.”

That Brees would pass Manning was a foregone conclusion. Manning, who retired in 2016, had long seen Brees in his rearview mirror, and talked openly before the season about how the record would soon change hands.

“He deserves it,” Manning told The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. “He’s been a great player for a long time.”

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Unlike Manning, who backed into the record by getting it during of one of the worst individual performances of his career — a 2015 loss in which he completed just 5 of 20 passes for 35 yards and four interceptions — Brees thoroughly dominated the Redskins, completing 26 of 29 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns. His third touchdown, a 35-yard pass to Smith, was the 499th of his career, and he even officially completed a 1-yard pass to himself by diving forward to keep possession of a throw that had been deflected.

Numerous records appear to be in peril this year: There have been 14 400-yard passing games through five weeks of the season, which is not only a record but more than the previous four seasons combined. Even a perennial leader in passing yards like Brees has had to work hard to keep up — after Monday’s game, he was still 69 yards behind the N.F.L.’s leader, Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams. Brees became the 11th quarterback this season to break the 1,500-yard mark, which gives each an average in excess of 300 yards a game.

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Spurs Dejounte Murray suffers right knee injury

The San Antonio Spurs have a core of exciting young guards, but two of them have already suffered injuries this preseason.

Rookie guard Lonnie Walker will be out for the next six-to-eight weeks with a torn meniscus that will require surgery.

And Dejounte Murray also suffered a knee injury during Sunday’s exhibition game against the Rockets.

The third-year point guard twisted his lower leg and was unable to return to the game over the weekend. He was able to walk off the floor under his own power, but Murray was in a noticeable amount of pain as he left the court.

ESPN’s Chris Haynes reports that Murray will undergo an MRI on Monday, and the Spurs will know the extent of the injury once those results are in.

The former Washington Husky was expected to become a full-time starter this season after the exodus of Tony Parker, and the organization was excited about his development heading into his third year.

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It’s always tough to see key players go down in meaningless preseason games, especially promising young pieces like Murray and Walker.

Fortunately, the Spurs are pretty deep at the guard positions and could probably withstand some attrition if Murray has to miss some time.

Patty Mills could see an increase in playing time if Murray is on the sidelines, and we could even see some significant minutes from Derrick White in Murray’s absence.

Murray appeared to be in significant pain following the injury and the Spurs’ medical staff considered wheeling him off the floor in a wheel chair. However, Murray wound up walking to the locker room under his own power, which provides some optimism the injury may not force an extended absence.

Murray is coming off an encouraging 2017-18 season. He averaged 8.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists, and he was a member of the All-Defensive second team.

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Graham Gano ties NFL record with 63 yard game winning FG

Tate High grad Graham Gano made NFL history on Sunday when he connected on a 63-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Carolina Panthers to a 33-31 win over the New York Giants.

Gano’s field goal tied for the longest game-winning field goal in NFL history according to the NFL Media Research Department.

The record was set by New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey, who made a 63-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Detroit Lions 19-17 in 1970.

It was also the second-longest field goal ever made in the NFL. Matt Prater owns the record with a 64-yard field goal made in 2013.

Gano earned his first Pro Bowl appearance last season as an injury replacement and signed a four-year $17 million dollar contract in the offseason.

Gano was a standout kicker with the Tate Aggies, earning first team All-American honors by USA Today and hitting field goals of 57, 64 and 65 yards. He played collegiate football at Florida State.

Quarterback Cam Newton spiked it with 12 seconds remaining. At that point, safety Mike Adams nervously turned to assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell to see if a kick was possible.

“I asked the coach, ‘Where is the yard line we need to be?’ And he said, ‘We’re already in range,’” Adams recalled. “I said, ‘What?!’I was hoping we would get 10 more yards, but we were good.”

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After an incomplete pass, Gano, who was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts already, trotted onto the field with six seconds remaining. The uprights were officially 63 yards away.

“I was terrified,” Moore admitted.

It was such a far kick, Gano got himself set on the other side of the field – the Giants’ 43-yard line to be exact.

“Knowing Graham, if we’re lining up to kick it I know we’ve got a shot,” guard Trai Turner said. “Let’s block this up, and let the chips fall where they may.”

The snap from the left hash was perfect. The hold was clean and precise. Gano put his boot through it confidently.

“You could just see the confidence exuding from Graham going into that kick,” punter and holder Michael Palardy said. “I knew it was good, 100 percent I knew it. I could tell by the way it came out of my fingers and the sound that it made. This is good.”

Gano drove the ball up over the Giants’ wall of defenders and it had plenty of distance. It was good with room to spare. Panthers win, 33-31, with a 63-yard conversion that sets a franchise record and ties an NFL record for longest game-winning kick.

“I just have no words for it,” Gano said with a smile that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. “That was madness. That’s the only word I can use to explain it.”

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Kyrie Irving plans on re-signing with Celtics

The annual Celtics season ticketholder fan fest is a generally fun affair, notable mainly for skills contests among the players.

But Kyrie Irving made Thursday night’s event something that will be spoken of for years. While the All-Star guard has been hinting strongly since he returned to town for training camp that he will be remaining with the club when he opts out of his contract next summer, he went a loud step further during a panel discussion on the parquet floor.

Rising from his chair, microphone in hand, Irving told the crowd, “If you’ll have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year.”

Evidently, it wasn’t such a spur of the moment remark. Irving told team officials he planned on making the statement tonight, though he saved it for the larger crowd after an earlier media session backstage.

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It was already known that Irving would be opting out of the final year of his contract ($21,329,752 for 2019-20) to sign a longer and more lucrative deal. An extension didn’t make financial sense. Based on salary cap projections, he’ll be eligible for a five-year deal at nearly $190 million total.

Irving will discuss tonight’s remarks with the media at tomorrow morning’s practice. Another event attendee, Celt legend Paul Pierce, endorsed Irving’s decision moments after it was uttered.

After saying he had no announcement of his own to make (“No, I am not coming back. I am officially retired.”), Pierce said of Irving’s remark, “I think that’s huge. I think he has an understanding after being here, it’s all about legacy. To have a legacy here in Boston can be like none other in the NBA. So I think he has a clear understanding of that. He’s a smart player. He’s a smart guy. He understands that championship window. Also, it doesn’t last that long. He had his run in Cleveland, and he sees the future here in Boston that can really be something special. I think he notices that.”

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Tom Brady reaches 500 career touchdown passes

On a night when he reached 500 career touchdown passes, Tom Brady welcomed back a buddy with one of his three scoring tosses Thursday, then connected with a newcomer who could help him reach more milestones.

Brady also sneaked in for a rushing touchdown and the New England Patriots put together their second straight win after a mediocre start to the season, beating Indianapolis 38-24.

Brady’s 500th went to Josh Gordon, recently acquired from Cleveland, where he basically was unavailable through NFL suspensions for all but five games over the past three seasons. But, as he often does, Brady spread the wealth, hitting running back James White 10 times for 77 yards, and greeting the return of buddy Julian Edelman by completing seven for 57 yards to him.

“We wanted to get him the ball and he made some great plays,” Brady said about Edelman. “Just good to have him out there. We all want it to be perfect when we go out and it was great to have him out there … healthy and having fun.”

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As for 500 TD passes, third on the career list behind Peyton Manning (539) and Brett Favre (508), Brady called it a collective mark.

“I think all these things like that, milestones, there are so many people that contribute, all the people that have really worked hard,” he said. “A quarterback doesn’t throw to himself.

The five-time NFL champion also tied Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, a former teammate, for most victories with 226. Brady finished 34 for 44 for 341 yards.

As everyone in Gillette Stadium except, apparently, the Colts knew, Brady started off with a pass to Edelman, who was wide open for 9 yards. That drew the first of many loud cheers for the 10th-year veteran receiver in his first game since the 2017 preseason, when he tore up a knee. Edelman was suspended for the first four games this year for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancers.

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Yankees beat A’s to set up ALDS vs Red Sox

Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run homer nine pitches in. By the time Giancarlo Stanton capped the mauling with monstrous drive in his postseason debut, New York Yankees fans already were looking ahead.

“We want Boston!” they chanted.

“It’s going to be intense,” CC Sabathia predicted after the Yankees pounded the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Wednesday night to win their second straight AL wild-card game.

New York will take a train to Boston for a best-of-five Division Series starting Friday night, a matchup of 100-win heavyweights.

“I think they’re ready and relish the opportunity to go up against the game’s best this year,” Yankees rookie manager Aaron Boone said of his players.

Boone remains a dirty word among the Fenway Park faithful. His 11th-inning homer in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series beat the Red Sox. A year later Boston overcame the Yankees and became the first major league team to bounce back from a 3-0 postseason deficit. The Red Sox went on to win their first World Series since 1918, but Boone’s drive off Tim Wakefield has not been forgotten or forgiven.

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The Yankees likely will turn to well-rested lefty J.A. Happ in Friday’s Game 1 of the Division Series against Chris Sale and the Red Sox.

“The pressure is on Boston, there’s no doubt about it,” Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley said on the TBS broadcast.

This ALDS is primed for drama between two teams that have been engaging in playoff-like games all season. The Sox barely edged the Yanks, 10-9 in the season series, though the final six games meant almost nothing for the Sox, who lost four of them.

On paper, it’s an even matchup.

Offensively, the Red Sox rank first and the Yankees rank second with 5.41 and 5.25 runs per game, respectively. The Yanks do it with the long ball (267 regular-season home runs, most all-time); the Red Sox do it with batting average (.268, best in MLB by nine points).

The pitching numbers almost are a mirror image of one another. The Red Sox had a 3.75 ERA, the Yankees finished with a 3.78 ERA. The Sox allowed 176 homers, the Yanks allowed 177.

Home-field advantage gives the Red Sox an edge, as they went 7-3 against the Yanks at Fenway this year and just 3-6 at Yankee Stadium.

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Julian Edelman to make season debut Thursday

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman will make his 2018 season debut on Thursday vs. the Indianapolis Colts, per a league source, marking his return from a four-game suspension and the ACL he tore in August 2017.
Edelman can thank, in part…the Boston Celtics.
Edelman has spent time working out at the Celtics’ new training facility in Boston, sources tell ESPN. Edelman spent a significant number of mornings around the Celtics’ training staff and used the team’s Celtics weight room.
And he frequently played ping pong against Celtics star Gordon Hayward, who was a high school tennis champion in Indiana.
“He’s a good player,” Hayward texted ESPN. “I haven’t played against someone who moved like he did when he played. He was all over the place and low to the ground.”

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The crafty receiver missed all of last year after he tore his ACL in New England’s third preseason game, and after having to sit out a quarter of the 2018 season, Thursday night will be Edelman’s first meaningful game since New England’s amazing comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

It’s been 604 days since that game, so Edelman is going to be pretty amped up to get back to work these next few days, and even more so to finally haul in a Tom Brady pass come Thursday night.

“I know he was itching to go and he wants to get down there and show everyone he is ready to go,” Brady said of Edelman’s return during his Monday morning call into WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan. “He’s in that James White mode where he is just so dependable and consistent and tough. He hasn’t been out there in awhile.”

Given the 32-year-old is coming off a lost season and a PED suspension, Brady said Edelman has plenty to prove upon his return.

“He’s very much an underdog. He’s seen himself like that for a long time,” said Brady. “He plays with a massive chip on his shoulder and I think that’s his playing style. He’s tough. He’s been everything that you are looking for as a Patriot.”

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