Touted rookie 1B Alonso to be on Mets’ roster

New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has made the team’s Opening Day roster after an outstanding performance during spring training this year.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

There was widespread speculation that the Mets might have Alonso, 24, start 2019 in the minors to limit his major league service time.

But Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen confirmed Wednesday that Alonso and fellow first baseman Dominic Smith both will be on the 25-man roster for Thursday’s season opener against the Washington Nationals.6

“He showed us, and he certainly showed his teammates, that … he earned it,” Van Wagenen said of Alonso.

As for whether the team was tempted to have Alonso start the season in the minors, the GM added: “I do want to focus on winning games. Let’s win as many as we can, as early as we can in the season. And I’m not of the mindset that we should be sacrificing the best product for the fans and the best product for the other 24 guys in that clubhouse to save service time or potential future money six years down the road.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Alonso is rated among the Mets’ top prospects after his breakout 2018 season in the minor leagues.

The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Alonso batted .352 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 22 games this spring. He had 36 homers and 119 RBIs in 132 combined games last season at Double-A and Triple-A.

A’s acquire DH/1B Morales from Blue Jays

The Oakland Athletics have acquired designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, the teams announced Wednesday.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Morales, 35, is expected to play first base while Gold Glover Matt Olson recovers from a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Olson was injured Thursday in the second game of the team’s season-opening series against the Seattle Mariners in Japan. He had surgery the following day, and the team didn’t provide a timeline for his return, although he is expected to be out for at least a month or two.

The switch-hitting Morales hit .249 with 21 homers and 57 RBIs in 130 games last season for Toronto, his second with the Blue Jays, and he will help balance out the A’s lineup.5

“Kendrys has consistently mauled right-handed pitching throughout his career,” A’s general manager David Forst said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s no doubt in our minds he can continue to do it.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Morales is in the final year of a three-year, $33 million contract. Toronto is responsible for more than $10 million of the $12 million left on the deal, the Chronicle reported.

The Blue Jays acquired minor league infielder Jesus Lopez and international signing bonus pool space in the deal. In addition to Morales, the A’s received cash considerations.

The A’s also transferred right-hander Jharel Cotton to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster for Morales.

The Knicks’ Rookie Center Is A Statistical Enigma

Mitchell Robinson is a unicorn. His forte is shot-blocking in an era when offenses are designed to attempt field goals 25 feet from the rim. On offense, the almost-21-year-old rookie shoots mostly at the iron — and “shooting” is probably not the right word to describe what he does with the ball on offense, since nearly half of his field-goal attempts are dunks. Robinson stands 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4-inch wingspan, so it’s hardly a surprise that he is virtually unstoppable around the rim, explaining his 68.2 field-goal percentage that would lead the league if he had enough attempts.

Robinson’s skills run counter to today’s game. And the various performance-rating systems disagree radically on how to assess his value. Maybe he’s one of the best rookie players in NBA history, as is indicated by win shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) and Box Plus/Minus (BPM). Or perhaps he’s just a bottom-rung NBA center, as ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus (RPM) system says. On the one hand, Robinson is a player who can go a long way in helping pull the Knicks up from the pit in which they’re currently mired as the NBA’s worst team. But on the other hand, he is a mere statistical mirage to Knicks fans so thirsty for hope.nfl nike jerseys for cheap6

There’s not even broad agreement on Robinson’s defensive prowess, despite his historic rate of blocking shots. While rejections are not required to be a great defender, it’s the most obvious manifestation of stopping an opponent from scoring. And in this area, Robinson is unquestionably a generational talent. Forget about being tied for 12th since the 1983-84 season1 with his (current) streak of two or more blocks in 22 straight games. Sure, only three other rookies have topped that. But even more impressive is that he’s blocking an all-time best 10.9 percent of 2-pointers, a stratosphere that no NBA player has approached since the heyday of 7-foot-7 Manute Bol three decades ago.

And Robinson is blocking 3-pointers, too — though that might remind Knicks fans of the team’s best chance for its only championship since the Nixon era, which was snuffed out by an athletic center who ventured out beyond the arc.

ESPN’s RPM doesn’t even rate Robinson’s defensive performance highly. He’s just the 46th best defensive center this season — likely because, according to RPM, his shot blocking doesn’t do much to help his teammates stop opponents from scoring.2

In BPM, however, Robinson’s on-court performance is placed in the context of an average player on an average team, according to Basketball-Reference.com. This metric says Robinson is the best defender in basketball, at 5.7 points better than average per 100 possessions.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

If BPM is accurately assessing Robinson, he’s on pace to become one of the better second-round draft picks of all-time — and certainly the best, value-wise, in recent Knicks history. Robinson is having the fourth-best rookie season ever by this metric,3 at 6.3 points over average on an average team. But the rookies ahead of him — 1984-85 Michael Jordan (8.2), 1975-76 Alvan Adams (6.7) and 1989-90 David Robinson (6.5) — were all Top 4 picks. Mitchell Robinson was picked 36th overall.

Irving critical of Celtics’ implosion, D on Walker

Kyrie Irving appeared to question Brad Stevens’ coaching strategy after Kemba Walker scored 18 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter to rally Charlotte to a 124-117 victory over the Celtics.

The Hornets closed Saturday night’s home game on a 30-5 run that included all 18 of Walker’s fourth-quarter points. The Hornets trailed 112-94 with 8 minutes, 22 seconds remaining.

Asked afterward how hard it is to stop Walker when he’s playing so well, Irving said, “It’s one-on-one, pride.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Walker had scored 43, 21 and 21 points against the Celtics in three previous meetings this season.5

Boston suffered its third consecutive loss. Irving finished with a team-high 31 points.

After the Celtics built their game-high 18-point lead, Charlotte scored on 12 of its final 19 possessions to catch and pass Boston. Walker scored his 18 fourth-quarter points in the final 7:43, including two clinching free throws with 5.9 seconds left.

“Obviously, when you lose an 18-point lead, there is a lot of things that go wrong,” Stevens said. “I thought they did a good job of chipping away at it. [And] we did everything that the book is written on to lose a game that you are up 18 at that point.”

Boston scored twice over its final 20 offensive possessions.

“This game was over in the beginning of the fourth quarter,” Irving said. “We took our foot off the gas pedal, got it to a five-point game and momentum shifted from there.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

It was Charlotte’s largest come-from-behind victory of the season and largest comeback in more than a year.

Agent: Ex-Seahawk McDowell medically cleared

Former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Malik McDowell has been medically cleared by independent doctors and is expected to play in 2019, says his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

McDowell was drafted in the second round by Seattle in 2017 but never played for the team after suffering a head injury in an ATV accident that summer. The Seahawks waived McDowell with an injury designation earlier this month. He has since visited the Dallas Cowboys.
“His doctors believe he is ready to go,” Rosenhaus said. “So we’ve got experts that are saying he will be cleared. So hopefully he will be able to continue his career, possibly with [Dallas]. In any event, he has been cleared independently. But the Seahawks, they tried their best to work with him, and unfortunately they didn’t feel that he could continue to play.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Seahawks general manager John Schneider declined to comment on McDowell at the scouting combine. That was in keeping with the team’s refusal to publicly discuss any specifics of McDowell’s situation, which is in part due to privacy laws, as McDowell was injured in a non-football activity.6

Coach Pete Carroll has also been mum on McDowell’s situation but at one point described the injury as a “really bad concussion.”

“Unfortunately, Malik got injured and [it] was a brain injury, a head injury,” Rosenhaus said. “And the Seahawks, they did a wonderful job of exhaustively checking to see if they could get him cleared to play. Ultimately, their doctors were not comfortable clearing him. He has since been cleared by independent doctors.”

Asked if the Seahawks considered keeping McDowell until he could be cleared, Rosenhaus said: “I don’t think they were comfortable with the medical side of it. I think he is going to have to play for somebody else. … He has doctors who have cleared him independently, so we are in the process of meeting with teams. He went to visit the Cowboys last week. We are trying to get that done.”

It’s not clear whether the Seahawks are attempting to recoup a portion or the entirety of the $3.2 million signing bonus they gave McDowell after drafting him 35th overall out of Michigan State. The Seahawks paid McDowell only $5,000 while he spent his rookie season on the non-football injury list. That dropped his salary from $465,000 to $85,000. The team did not pay McDowell while he was on NFI in 2018.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

McDowell’s injury had a significant ripple effect on the Seahawks. Once it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to play in 2017, the Seahawks acquired Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and receiver Jermaine Kearse (the teams also swapped seventh-rounders). Richardson left in free agency after an underwhelming 2017 season in Seattle.

Rob Gronkowski’s greatest catches, including Tom Brady’s favorite

The New England Patriots tight end paused for a moment to give it some consideration.

“I like the one-handers. I remember all the one-handers — those are always memorable,” he said, noting a Week 16 touchdown grab against the Buffalo Bills in the 2017 season and a 10-yard score against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs following the 2011 season.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“It’s tough to make one-handers,” he said. “You’re always practicing two [hands] and you don’t want to make one-handers. But you only make them when it’s really necessary and you can only reach the ball. You remember those because it’s rare.”

Indeed, degree of difficulty is one criterion when putting together a list of Gronkowski’s greatest grabs.5

So, too, are the clutch catches.

“He’s had so many big catches for us. He just shows up at the biggest moments,” quarterback Tom Brady said before picking one of his favorites, from Super Bowl XLIX. “In 2014, he catches the touchdown on [Seahawks linebacker] K.J. Wright. Then we beat him on a crossing route under pressure, but only Gronk makes that play with his length and speed. Then I threw him another, call it a deep stop route, on K.J. Wright again. So I’ve thrown a lot to him over the years. He’s been so dependable, consistent.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Then there’s what Gronkowski, 29, does after the catch that also warrants consideration, with defenders sometimes bouncing off him, or hanging on as he lunges forward with force. Those catches often turn into memorable plays, too.

Playing two upfront becoming a viable approach again in the Premier League

The Premier League remains Europe’s most international, multicultural top-flight league in terms of players and managers, and yet somehow there often seems to be a distinctly old-school feel to the football. For instance, Pep Guardiola has spoken of the importance of coping with winning second balls, while Jurgen Klopp has spoken about the need to deal with the inclement weather.

Tactically, things are somewhat different: We’re in the age of false nines and gegenpressing, rather than long balls and the use of 4-4-2 formations. But the past couple of weeks have felt like something of a throwback, with various sides using two centre-forwards upfront together, often with great success.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The most interesting example came the weekend before last, in the contest between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates. This fixture always stirs up memories of the 1990s, and tactically both sides started the contest with two forwards, albeit in very different formats. Arsenal started with a 3-4-1-2, featuring Mesut Ozil behind Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Manchester United began with a 4-4-2 featuring Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, numbers 9 and 10 respectively.6

These remain the principle two ways to deploy a two-man strike force, especially because the midfield diamond — as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has occasionally used this season — now largely means the two forwards are starting from the flanks, too far apart to combine regularly. The difference, of course, was that Arsenal had a designated playmaker conducting things from behind the lines, while Manchester United’s duo needed to cope by themselves.

Arsenal’s back three, in theory, should have been capable of coping with two strikers, but Rashford and Lukaku appeared to be on the same wavelength. They may not be quite at the level of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole yet, although the familiar sight of Solskjaer on the bench offers a link between the two that the manager will surely mention.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Lacazette and Aubameyang have a curious relationship. Off the pitch they’re extremely close; on the pitch they can function together in the same side, although their combination play isn’t particularly notable, and there are questions about whether the 3-4-1-2 suits Arsenal’s other players. Ozil hasn’t particularly thrived in his No. 10 role, despite that being his best position on paper.

Virgil van Dijk is Player of the Year even if Liverpool don’t win the Premier League

The Premier League drama has yet to reach its final reel, but the stars of the show are already campaigning for the individual awards. Who are the leading nominees for football’s version of the Oscars?

It seems ridiculous, but no defender has won the prestigious Footballer of the Year title, as decided by the writers, since Liverpool’s Steve Nicol in 1989. That run could be ended by another Anfield man, Virgil van Dijk. His vital goal in their Champions League defeat of Bayern Munich only underlined how much of a colossus he has become for Jurgen Klopp’s team, the rock on which the whole edifice is built.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Liverpool were probably a little more exciting last season, but van Dijk is the main reason they are far more effective this time around, thanks to his sense of calm, his authority in defence and his leadership skills. From being watchable also-rans in the league, van Dijk has made them serious contenders.5

Manchester City, of course, deserve to be represented among the nominations. From their winning machine this term, you would pick Sergio Aguero — on course for his best City goal return — and Fernandinho, who might be the fittest and most savvy 33-year-old out there.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Like Van Dijk at Anfield, Fernandinho provides the vital steel to blend with all that silk around him. But there might be an even stronger case for the vastly improved Raheem Sterling, who has hit 19 goals and provided so much threat. I don’t buy into the accusations that the media don’t give Sterling fair coverage; his excellence this season has been well-documented.

Manchester United’s laboured pre-Christmas form rules out any of their players, despite the consistency of Luke Shaw and marked improvement of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba in recent months. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard might be the most talented player in the country, and this might be his farewell campaign in England since Real Madrid’s new (again) coach, Zinedine Zidane, is a big fan. Hazard can be enigmatic, but he has been a match-changer often enough to make the shortlist.

In Japan, Ichiro retires where career began

The 45-year-old Seattle Mariners star announced his retirement Thursday night, shortly after waving goodbye at the Tokyo Dome during a 5-4 win over Oakland in 12 innings. Ichiro went 0-for-4 and was pulled from right field in the eighth, saluting his adoring fans in the packed crowd. He drew hugs — some of them tearful — from teammates in a three-minute walk that signaled to all his great career had ended.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The outfielder said in a statement after the game that he had “achieved so many of my dreams in baseball, both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball.”

He added that he was “honored to end my big league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan.”6

Ichiro was a 10-time All-Star in the majors. He had 3,089 hits over a 19-year career in the big leagues after having 1,278 while starring in Japan. His combined total of 4,367 is a professional record.

After the Mariners took the field in the bottom of the eighth, all the players except Suzuki left for the dugout. Ichiro then waved to the crowd before leaving right field for defensive replacement Braden Bishop, who was making his major league debut. Ichiro received a standing ovation from the crowd and hugs from his Seattle teammates.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Japanese fans had been hoping it would not be the end of his career, but they knew it was likely. In Japan, many had thought his 2012 appearance with Seattle, when he had four hits in a game against Oakland, would be the last time they saw him play.

“Seven years ago, it appeared he had played for the last time in Japan,” Fumihiro Fujisawa, head of the Japanese Association of Baseball Research, told The Associated Press. “I don’t think anybody believed he would be active now.”

Brewers reliever Knebel to get elbow exam

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Corey Knebel will have his elbow examined by a specialist on Thursday, manager Craig Counsell said.

“There’s reason for concern,” Counsell said. Knebel will have a visit with team doctor William Raasch, according to the manager.cheap nfl jerseys china nike5

Knebel signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract in January after pitching well in the last month of the season and the postseason. In September, he gave up five hits in 16 1/3 innings and had 33 strikeouts with three walks. In nine postseason games, he held opposing hitters to a .090 average, with 14 strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

With Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress (shoulder) fighting injuries, Josh Hader may start the season as the Brewers closer.