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July | 2017 | informazing

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Monthly Archive:: July 2017

Pirates hold onto McCutchen, send reliever Watson to Dodgers

PITTSBURGH (AP) His team stuck on the fringe of the playoff race – not quite in it and not quite out of it – Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington spent the hours leading up to the trade deadline weighing both blowing up his roster and moving on to 2018 and making a splash in an effort to make inroads on the Chicago Cubs.

In the end, Huntington did neither, a testament to both a somewhat tepid market and Huntington’s belief that the Pirates aren’t quite ready to bail on 2017.

Pittsburgh sent reliever Tony Watson to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for a pair of prospects and acquired reliever Joaquin Benoit from Philadelphia but otherwise stood pat.

So Andrew McCutchen is still a Pirate. Gerrit Cole and Juan Nicasio too. Proof, Huntington said, the team remains optimistic it can make a run at the National League Central. Pittsburgh was off Monday and sits at 51-54 and 5+ games behind the Cubs heading into a week-long homestand against Cincinnati, San Diego and Detroit beginning on Tuesday.

”We see some positive signs,” Huntington said. ”We’ve played well against good teams. … We had a number of conversations to add more. In some cases we thought acquisition cost were above where we were going.”

Pittsburgh received minor league infielder Oneil Cruz and minor league right-hander Angel German from the Dodgers for Watson. The 32-year-old was an All-Star in 2014 but lost his job as the team’s closer to Felipe Rivero following consecutive blown saves in June. Watson will also become a free agent at the end of the season and was unlikely to re-sign with the Pirates.

So rather than hold onto him, the Pirates flipped Watson for the 18-year-old Cruz and the 21-year-old German, then filled Watson’s spot on the big league roster by acquiring the 40-year-old Benoit and cash from the last-place Phillies for minor league pitcher Seth McGarry.

”We had other expiring contracts that if we wanted to we could have moved other players,” Huntington said. ”The returns were not compelling, the Watson return was compelling.”

While Huntington said the club had ”lots of different discussions about a lot of different players” he declined to get into specifics.

”We still like the core of this club, like the depth and quality of rotation, depth and quality of position group,” Huntington said.

A core that still includes McCutchen. The Pirates shopped their five-time All-Star centerfielder in the offseason but couldn’t find a trade partner. The 2013 NL MVP has shrugged off a slow start and is hitting .292 with 22 home runs and 60 RBIs, including three home runs in a victory over San Diego on Sunday.

McCutchen has a team option for $14.75 million next season. The Pirates appear to be in no rush to reach any consensus on McCutchen’s future.

”I would anticipate we’ll make the decision when we feel it’s appropriate,” Huntington said.

Huntington thanked Watson – who was a fixture in a setup role as the Pirates ripped off three straight postseason appearances from 2013-15 – for being a ”stable force” in Pittsburgh’s bullpen.

Both Cruz and German are long-term projects at this point. Benoit is 1-4 with two saves and a 4.07 ERA in 44 appearances for Philadelphia. He’ll join a team that is running out of time to make any sort of inroads this season, but one Huntington stressed is moving in the right direction.

”If we can get back to clicking on all cylinders,” Huntington said, ”we feel like we can make this interesting.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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Martellus Bennett responds to Jamal Adams: ‘I’m not dying for this s***’

Martellus Bennett isn’t buying this ‘die for the sport’ attitude.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett undoubtedly loves playing football and being out on the field. But that’s not where he ultimately wants his life to end.

New York Jets rookie safety Jamal Adams made jaws drop when he chimed in on the conversation regarding CTE and player safety at a Jets forum Monday.

“Literally, if I had the perfect place to die,” Adams said, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, “I’d die on the field.”

After seeing this, Bennett responded with a couple of strong statements of his own.

“Look football is great but I ain’t dying for this s***,” he added.

Commissioner Roger Goodell was also in attendance at the Jets fan forum and had something interesting to say about another hot topic. We can only imagine what an awkward situation Adams’ comments generated for the league office.

As for Bennett, he has years of experience in the league. Enough so to know that getting knocked around during NFL game time is no fun.

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‘X-rays are a waste of money,’ says Dean Elgar after painful show of defiance | Sport

The battered and bruised hands of Dean Elgar told their own story as he stood on the outfield of The Oval following the epic finish to the third Test, with the opener’s 136 over five and half hours at the crease a brave attempt to keep alive South African hopes of a series win.

Elgar’s vigil, ended when Moeen Ali tossed one above the eye-line, teased an edge to slip and began what would prove to be a historic hat-trick, may have ultimately gone unrewarded but was a significant message to a batting line-up that had gone 11 innings without a century.

This 30-year-old had demonstrated the fighting qualities that have always run through South African cricket like words in a stick of rock, shrugging off the pain of a badly swollen left index finger that had been inflicted by Ben Stokes the previous evening and repeatedly caused him to let go of the bat handle following subsequent jarring blows.

“X-rays are a waste of money,” replied Elgar, when asked if the digit was broken and he might miss Friday’s fourth Test at Old Trafford – a match that offers the tourists a chance to square the series and to have something to show for an otherwise tough three months in the country.

“I’m still ready to play the next game. It’s part of the game, you have to roll with the punches and take the blows when they come your way. I prefer not getting hit. It puts me in a different mind-set, like the challenge is a little bit more. I guess only an opening batsman could see it that way. You have to look at the bigger picture and that’s to try and contribute in a big way.”

While he ended up on the losing side, Elgar certainly did just that. On one of those curious fifth days on which a thinned-out crowd hopes to witness an England win – but not too quickly – he would be among those to receive a standing ovation, as he hoisted Moeen over mid-off to bring up his eighth Test century and his fourth in the last 12 months.

The left-hander may be slightly easier on the eye than Graeme Smith – the former captain’s trademark shot was once described by his team-mate Herschelle Gibbs as being “the cover-drive through mid-on” – but he is cut from similar cloth, with the price he places on his wicket sitting far higher that a desire to entertain.

Nevertheless the rearguard that began in the morning unbeaten on 72 after surviving a drop at slip the previous evening, and at one stage on Monday prompted Billy Cooper, the Barmy Army’s trumpeter, to break into a rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance No4”, did include some fine straight drives and cuts among the 228 balls he faced.

His own personal satisfaction came from the battle against Stokes, however, who pounded in from the Pavilion End on the fourth evening with an already cacophonous support behind him following the all-rounder’s thrilling removal of Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis in successive deliveries.

“That’s what makes Test cricket the best,” said Elgar. “Those are the moments you watch on TV as a kid, with the crowd chanting a player’s name. As the opponent you have to try and put it on your side as well and get motivated.

“It’s a great occasion facing a guy like that,” he added. “He’s a big-match player and he’s going to come hard. It’s a great battle playing against him.”

Despite the efforts of Elgar and Temba Bavuma, with whom he shared a stand of 108, the spotlight that South Africa managed to shine on the make-up of England’s team through the 340-run win at Trent Bridge a fortnight ago has now flipped back on to the tourists, albeit with fewer resources than their hosts with which to find remedies.

Though the batting incumbents crumbled under overcast skies – Elgar’s 144 runs across the two innings was four runs more than the rest of the top six combined – Du Plessis, twice lbw shouldering arms, put the 239-run defeat mainly down to the bowling on the first day and the sickness bug that reduced the strength of Vernon Philander’s contribution throughout.

Du Plessis admitted Chris Morris struggled in Philander’s absence but he appears set to continue at Old Trafford, as does Heino Kuhn. Bar a 34 in the first innings in Nottingham that blunted the new ball, the 33-year-old has struggled to convince in his first series but the captain was quick to point out the difficulties opening against this England attack.

Elgar, sitting alongside him as he offered this assurance and with his possibly broken finger still throbbing, nodded along in agreement.

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Jets’ Seferian-Jenkins has life, career looking up again

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Austin Seferian-Jenkins disliked the person he had become.

He was out of shape, had been in trouble with the law and was being labeled a second-round bust. The troubled tight end knew he needed to make changes – and quickly.

”It really didn’t have anything to do with football,” Seferian-Jenkins said, reflecting on the last several months, which included treatment for alcohol abuse. ”It just had to do with, as a person, there comes a certain time in your life when your life could go one direction or the other and I felt it going in a direction I didn’t want it to go.

”So I figured out what I needed to do.”

He has turned his life around off the field and is thankful for the chance he has on the field with the New York Jets.

”I made a plan and I stuck to it and I’ve continued to stick to that plan,” the 24-year-old Seferian-Jenkins said. ”My personal life is great. I’m happy and I’m doing everything I should off the field, so the football stuff is easy for me. Is it easy every single day to come out here and work hard and do everything? Not necessarily. People get tired and all that. But compared to other stuff I’ve been through and things I’ve worked through, this is easy.”

Seferian-Jenkins quit drinking in January and received outpatient rehab treatment. Since then, his new svelte physique is the most visible change. The 6-foot-5 Seferian-Jenkins is down 33 pounds from last season, when he was listed at 262, after improving his diet and tinkering with his workout routine. He mixed in aerobics and yoga to improve his flexibility.

”I mean, man, it’s a lot easier running around, lighter,” he said. ”More than just losing the weight, it’s a mindset of how I’m going to attack the day, how I’m going to attack the practice.”

Seferian-Jenkins looked solid during the offseason workouts and minicamp, and has carried that over to the early part of training camp.

”He made a dedication to himself, so that’s a credit to him,” coach Todd Bowles said. ”He’s come in lighter, he’s quicker, he’s leaner and he’s moving a lot better.”

Seferian-Jenkins feels good and he likes who he is now, something he couldn’t say just a few months ago.

The 38th overall pick in 2014 by Tampa Bay was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Florida last September while he was a member of the Buccaneers. Seferian-Jenkins was cut by the Buccaneers a few days later and claimed off waivers by the Jets .

He was charged with DUI and violation of an ignition interlock device restriction from an arrest in 2013 while playing at the University of Washington. Seferian-Jenkins pleaded no contest in February to a reduced charge of reckless driving after originally pleading not guilty to the DUI charge.

The NFL also suspended him for the first two games of this season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He’s allowed to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games, per NFL rules, and is approaching this opportunity like a fresh start.

”I kind of forget about the past, but you remember the lessons from the past,” he said. ”I get my ankles taped where the rookies get theirs taped, I’m in the ice bath with the rookies getting an ice bath. I’m treating this like my rookie year. It’s a new me and I’ve rededicated myself and pushing myself as hard as I can.”

He had 21 receptions in each of his first two NFL seasons and hasn’t lived up to his draft status. Seferian-Jenkins had 13 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in nine games with the Buccaneers and Jets last season.

Aside from the off-field issues, Seferian-Jenkins also dealt with ankle and hamstring ailments after joining New York.

”I wasn’t doing the right things,” he said. ”I wasn’t preparing like a pro should prepare. I am now, so I feel confident when I step out on the field I know everything I’ve got to do.”

Seferian-Jenkins started two games last season for the Jets and will likely be in the mix again after his suspension is over. Rookie Jordan Leggett, a fifth-rounder out of Clemson, has looked promising early, and the Jets also have Chris Gragg, Eric Tomlinson, Jason Vander Laan and Brian Parker at the position.

It also appears new offensive coordinator John Morton will incorporate the tight end into his system, which has some West Coast-style tendencies. That means more opportunities for catches after former coordinator Chan Gailey used tight ends mostly as blockers the last two seasons.

Seferian-Jenkins is just thankful to even be out on the field these days. He praised the Jets organization for standing by him during the most difficult time of his life, and he wants to repay his teammates.

”They embraced me, welcomed me as a new person, accepted me regardless of everything and I just truly appreciate that,” Seferian-Jenkins said. ”The front office, the coaches, that’s important, but it’s really my teammates. They deserve everything I can give them.”

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Five biggest deals of the 2017 MLB trade deadline

Starting pitcher Yu Darvish was one of the biggest names to move at the trade deadline. 
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

A good trade at the MLB trade deadline can turn a good team into a World Series winner. There is, after all, a long history of teams swinging deadline deals for pieces that helped them win a World Series; the Cubs added Aroldis Chapman, the Royals grabbed Ben Zobrist, and so on.

One of these deals could certainly put someone over the top and help them to a championship.

Here are the five best deadline deals made throughout the month of July by MLB teams.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana throws a pitch during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on July 28, 2017. 
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

5) Cubs acquire Jose Quintana from White Sox

In a certain sense, the Cubs’ acquisition of Jose Quintana was as important symbolically as it was in terms of talent addition. The reigning champions spent much of the first half of the season floundering around the .500 mark, falling behind the surprisingly potent Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings. Something had to be done, both to improve the team and send a message to a group of players that had the talent to perform much better than they were.

Yes, Quintana was extremely expensive in terms of prospects. The Cubs gave up Dylan Cease, Bryant Flete, Eloy Jimenez, and Matt Rose, with Jimenez in particular having the potential to be elite. But the Cubs have so much talent that is just entering its prime, and they’ll be fine on the depth front.

Getting someone like Quintana, who has a long track record of success and is under team control through 2020, will be huge. The early returns are extremely encouraging, too — he has a 2.37 ERA in his first three starts for the Cubs. The team has responded as well by surging into first place, and suddenly things look rosier on the North Side.

4) Yankees acquire Frazier, Robertson, and Kahnle from White Sox

New York Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier is a good rental for the 2017 American League pennant run. 
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Frazier is a rental who should shore up third base for the Yankees for the rest of the season and provide some power. He’s not the same guy he was in his heyday with the Cincinnati Reds, but he can still hold down an everyday job.

The pitchers are the real prize here for the Yankees. Robertson isn’t the same guy he was in his first stint with New York, but he’s still a steady hand in the back of the bullpen who will be able to get the ball to the likes of Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. Kahnle might actually end up being the true gem of the trade for New York. He turns 28 next week, will be Yankees property through 2020, and is striking out opponents at a remarkable rate — 69 in 41.1 innings, to be exact. He is the forgotten name in the deal, but he may end up having the biggest long-term impact.

The trade didn’t come at no cost to the Yankees. They traded Tyler Clippard along with minor leaguers Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, and Blake Rutherford. Rutherford was a first-round pick last year and Clarkin was a first-rounder in 2013. Both are far from the big leagues, yet have promise and talent and could provide a nice return to the White Sox. But the Yankees were willing to pay the price to add a lot of depth to their current club.

3) Washington Nationals acquire Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from A’s

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle throws in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 23, 2017.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals’ bullpen has been such a problem that members of the team have supposedly complained off-the-record to media members about how long it took to fix. Fix it they did, though, with a deal that brought them two quality relievers for a relatively modest price, all things considered.

Ryan Madson’s career once appeared to be over due to elbow injuries, but he resurrected it with Kansas City and then Oakland to re-establish himself as one of the league’s more reliable relievers. He brings a lot to the table as he has an ERA under two this season, has extensive postseason experience, and is under contract for 2018.

Doolittle is the key piece. Injuries have held the lefty back throughout his career, but when healthy, he’s one of baseball’s best power lefties out of the bullpen. Add in Monday’s addition of Brandon Kintzler and you have three solid new arms in the Washington bullpen, all of whom can get outs late in ballgames.

Coupled with a powerful offense and a great group of starting pitchers, they should not be slept on in October, particularly if they can batten down the hatches late in games. In order to acquire the two pitchers, Washington sent Blake Treinen and minor leaguers Jesus Luzardo and Sheldon Neuse to Oakland.

Pitcher Sonny Gray adds to an already strong Yankee bullpen. 
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2) Yankees acquire Sonny Gray from A’s

That the Yankees were able to get this done while keeping five of their top six prospects speaks to both the depth of New York’s system and the fact that Brian Cashman is really, really good at his job. Gray drew interest from many teams, but the Yankees were the ones able to match things up and strengthen their rotation with the 27-year-old righty.

The Yankees shouldn’t have needed to buy a starter, but Masahiro Tanaka’s struggles and Luis Severino’s youth necessitated a move like this. Gray will help, and not just in 2017. He appears to be back to his best, with a 3.43 ERA and a 3.24 FIP that bests all of his other seasons except his first one. He will also be with the team for two full seasons beyond this one. The Yankee rotation just got deeper for October, and they may well be the favorites to win the American League East now.

In this trade, the Yankees had to part with Dustin Fowler, James Kaprielian, and Jorge Mateo. Fowler and Kaprielian will need to rebound from season-ending injuries, but could provide Oakland plenty of good players down the road.

Starting pitcher Yu Darvish should help the Dodgers pitching staff while waiting out Clayton Kershaw’s stint on the disabled list. 
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

1) Dodgers acquire Yu Darvish from Rangers

The rich get richer. It looked like the Dodgers were going to be content to pick up a couple relief pitchers and call it a day, but they sneaked in just before the deadline to grab Darvish from Texas, all while managing to hold on to top prospects Alex Verdugo and Walker Buehler. They still surrendered minor leaguers A.J. Alexy, Willie Calhoun, and Brendon Davis in the deal, with Calhoun being the biggest name.

The Dodgers didn’t particularly need Darvish, but Clayton Kershaw’s recent injury created a bit of a question mark atop the rotation. Darvish should answer those questions. His 4.01 ERA is inflated because of a 10-run start against the Miami Marlins in his last outing with Texas in which he allegedly tipped his pitches. Provided he fixes that, Darvish will bring the same nasty stuff he has always had with him to the National League.

In the postseason, Kershaw, Darvish, and Alex Wood will likely prove a devastating 1-2-3 punch for opponents, and the Dodgers have added even more talent to a team that was on pace to win 114 games. It’s almost unfair.

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PSG make plans for unveiling ahead of £197m deal for Barcelona’s Neymar | Football

Paris Saint-Germain are so confident of signing Neymar that they were on Monday preparing his unveiling. They hope to conclude a deal this week to buy the forward from Barcelona for a world record £197m, the Brazilian’s release clause.

A five-year contract has been ready for several days and just needs to be signed. When PSG bought Zlatan Ibrahimovic five summers ago they welcomed him on the Trocadéro at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The club are planning something even bigger for Neymar.

The 25-year-old was on Monday in China for one of his sponsors and may fly from there to Doha to meet PSG’s Qatari owners and for a medical. The French club have been working hard to seal a deal for two weeks, since Neymar’s entourage contacted them in the knowledge that the player wanted out of Barcelona.

The structure of the transfer, including Neymar’s £26m-a-year salary, is not yet known but PSG are adamant they will respect financial fair play regulations. To make sure they do not expose themselves to sanctions they are preparing to sacrifice some members of the squad.

Ángel Di María carries the likely highest value, at around £45m, among the players the club are willing to sell. Serge Aurier is expected to leave for around £20m and Blaise Matuidi, who has one year left on his contract, could fetch a similar fee. Hatem Ben Arfa, Jesé and Grzegorz Krychowiak were already on the transfer list.

The right-winger Lucas is unlikely to be sold as he has a very close relationship with Neymar, a friend since the age of six, and could be useful for integrating his compatriot.

In response to suggestions that Barcelona may make a complaint over financial fair play, a Uefa spokesman said: “We haven’t received any complaint regarding this matter but, irrespective of whether we receive a complaint or not, we would in any case look into the details of such a transfer if it goes ahead to ensure that it respects financial fair play rules.

“PSG must respect financial fair play rules as do all other clubs in Europe. They must demonstrate that they do not have losses of more than €30m over three years.

“The impact of a potential transfer of Neymar to PSG would have an effect on the club finances over several years. It is very difficult to judge this type of operation in advance as we do not know the plans of the French club. They could well sell a few players for a similar or even superior amount. We shall therefore only make calculations at the end and make sure that they respect the rules.”

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Rangers trade Darvish to Dodgers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The loaded Los Angeles Dodgers made a late trade for Texas ace Yu Darvish on Monday, their boldest move in pursuit of a World Series crown that’s eluded them for nearly 30 years.

The runaway NL West leaders, already with the best record in the majors and the highest payroll, acquired Darvish for three minor league players: second baseman/outfielder Willie Calhoun, right-hander A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis.

“It’s an honor to be wanted by the team,” Darvish said through a translator.

The 30-year-old Darvish is a four-time All-Star. The right-hander is 6-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 22 starts this season as he comes back from Tommy John surgery.

Darvish is 0-5 with a 5.81 ERA over his last eight starts. He was tagged for a career-worst 10 runs in his last outing, and later revealed that he was tipping his pitches to the Marlins.

The Japanese star said he got a call from his agent right before Monday’s 4 p.m. EDT deadline for making trades without waivers.

“I was mentally prepared for the announcement,” Darvish said.

At Globe Life Park, where the struggling Rangers were set to host Seattle, Darvish said he had “nothing but appreciation” for his time in Texas.

Darvish can become a free agent after this season. Asked whether he would consider a return to the Rangers, he said he would have to wait and see.

Darvish made his major league debut with Texas in 2012. He missed the entire 2015 season while recovering from elbow surgery.

Dodgers rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger tweeted a greeting to Darvish even before the deal was official.

The Dodgers haven’t won the World Series since 1988, when Orel Hershiser was their ace. They’ve reached the playoffs 10 times since, including the last four years with star Clayton Kershaw.

Earlier Monday, Los Angeles acquired lefty reliever Tony Watson from Pittsburgh.

Calhoun, 22, hit .298 with 23 home runs and 67 RBIs in 99 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Alexy, 19, was 2-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 19 starts at Low-A Great Lakes. Davis, 20, hit a combined .241 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs at Great Lakes and High-A Rancho Cucamonga.

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Manchester City will travel to Spanish training camp hours after league opener | Football

Manchester City are set to travel to a training camp in Catalonia less than a day after the start of their league season.

Pep Guardiola will take his squad to Spain for a four-day stay hours after kicking off their campaign at Brighton, Premier League newcomers, on 12 August.

The trip will also include a friendly against Girona, who are set to make their debut in Spain’s top flight this season. The match will take place at Girona’s Estadi Montilivi on 15 August.

The club say it is a chance for Guardiola to work with his full squad as some players, including the summer arrival Bernardo Silva, missed the pre-season trip to the USA, where City played Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham.

Manchester City have established links with Girona in recent years, with Pablo Maffeo, Angelino and Pablo Mari going to Spain on loan last season – although Angelino did not play for the Catalan side.

Maffeo has rejoined Girona on loan for this season, in a deal announced on Monday. Girona’s players have also travelled to Manchester this summer to use training facilities at the Premier League club’s City Football Academy.

Txiki Begiristain, the club’s director of football, told mancity.com: “This trip is a great opportunity for Pep to work with his full squad in an intensive training camp.”

“We have had some players away on international duty this summer, which means Pep hasn’t had the chance to work for long with the whole squad,” he added.

Manchester City’s second Premier League match is at home to Everton on 21 August. Guardiola’s side will take on West Ham in a friendly in Reykjavik on 4 August before the trip to Brighton.

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UAB Blazers finally get to prepare for a game again

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) The UAB Blazers suited up, worked out and showered in their new football building. They practiced on new turf fields under a pavilion that shielded them from the Alabama sun.

The Blazers began fall camp Monday savoring those facility upgrades – and the chance to actually prepare for a game. It’s been awhile.

”Those (are) things that most people would probably take for granted, but we don’t,” UAB coach Bill Clark said. ”Hopefully we’ll just settle in and it’ll be normal but it’s a big deal to be here.”

That about sums it up. Most college teams are also gearing up for the season, or getting ready to, but for the Blazers it’s absolutely a big deal to be here.

UAB faces Alabama A&M on Sept. 2 at Legion Field, some 32 months after UAB shut down football, bowling and rifle citing lack of financial resources. The programs were resuscitated some six months later after an outpouring of support that generated $40 million over a 15-month span.

Most of the players taking the field Monday, and all the assistant coaches except defensive coordinator David Reeves, weren’t around in 2014.

”It’s actually here now,” said 25-year-old linebacker Tevin Crews, one of the holdovers. ”There’s so much excitement swarming around. Everybody’s locking in. We’re more focused. You leave here late at night and you look at Snapchat or something like that, and there’s about 20 guys out on the practice field getting extra work in. There’s a lot of excitement.”

Some of UAB’s first signees after the reboot – and the returnees – spent the past two falls practicing and working out. As for games, they got their football fix watching former teammates play elsewhere, including running back Jordan Howard, who went to Indiana and then ran for 1,313 yards as a rookie for the Chicago Bears.

Crews and fellow linebacker Shaq Jones have been getting encouragement from Howard and other ex-teammates.

”It’s been two years, so we’re itching to go hit someone else,” said Jones, who was a junior in 2014. ”We’re tired of hitting one another. We want to go out and inflict pain on someone else, as the rules allow.

”You can expect an excited team, a passionate team, a team that’s just happy to do what we do.”

Like many teams around the country, UAB has a quarterback battle. Junior college transfer A.J. Erdely, who started his career at Middle Tennessee, opened camp as the favorite with redshirt freshman Tyler Johnston III right behind him.

Unlike those teams, they get a daily reminder of how far they’ve come when they step into the new Football Operations Center or under Legacy Pavilion. It makes them feel beholden to a city that has always been more of a stronghold for wealthier Southeastern Conference programs Alabama and Auburn.

”Every day we go out there and you can’t help but think about all the people who fought for us and marched for this team,” Crews said. ”We appreciate those guys every day. Every day we’re in the weight room, it’s mentioned: A lot of people are depending on you. We have that in the back of our heads every single day.”

More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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Garrett using endorsement angle to caution Elliott

Jason Garrett warned Ezekiel Elliott about hurting his image off the field.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ezekiel Elliott has a rare opportunity to set himself up for life as a star running back for the Dallas Cowboys. This message is how Jason Garrett is trying to get through to his young player, who’s spent his first year getting into the kind of off-field trouble that can kill his endorsement value.

In his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column, Peter King of SI.com shared what Garrett told him about his discussions with Elliott.

“I’ve had a number of talks with him,” Garrett said. “I’ve asked him, ‘What do you want to be?’ I’ve had him try to understand the potential paths he could go down, the opportunities he has, on and off the field. They’re off the charts. He’s an infectious, very likable, hard-working kid. My point to him is, ‘If you maximize your abilities, you might be able to make $200 million off the field, like LeBron [James]. Or you could make a million.’ I mean, say you’re AT&T, or you’re Pepsi. You’re looking for a spokesman for your product. What would you do right now? You’d probably say if you’re one of those companies, ‘Oh, we’ll go with Dak. Or we’ll go with Jordan Spieth.’ But that’s in his control.”

That Garrett mentions Dak Prescott is notable for a couple of reasons. First off, Prescott has been raking in some serious endorsement deals, thanks to his relatively squeaky clean image and amazing first year as the quarterback of America’s Team. Secondly, he’s Elliott’s teammate and a guy who’s been a bit critical of how Elliott spends his time.

One the one hand, we’re pretty sure many will roll their eyes at Garrett’s tactic here. After all, Elliott is a professional now, and professionals shouldn’t need to be reminded about things like image and financial consequences for their actions.

On the other hand, Elliott is still a 22-year-old who appears to need this type of guidance.

Recently, before he was accused by some of punching a guy in a Dallas area club, Elliott said he realized he needed to keep a lower profile. It appears that’s still a struggle for the young man. But hopefully he’s finally gotten the message as he awaits word from the NFL about possible league discipline.

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