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Josh Donaldson hopes to spend rest of career with Braves

“We were looking for a middle-of-the-order bat,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said after a news conference at SunTrust Park less than 24 hours after the team announced the signing of catcher Brian McCann. “We had to find a way to get it done.”

Donaldson was looking for a team that would pay him big bucks while giving him a chance to show he’s healthy after three injury-plagued seasons. He’ll make the same salary he received this past season, while setting himself up for a much more lucrative deal if he returns to MVP form.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Plus, he gets to play with his favorite team from childhood. Donaldson is a native of Pensacola, Florida, and he played his college baseball at Auburn, about a two-hour drive from SunTrust Park.6

“I was a huge Braves fan coming up,” he said. “My very first favorite player was Ron Gant. It’s a very full circle from coming to my very first Braves game, my first major league baseball game, when I was about 12 years old to now being 32 years old [next week], being able to wear this jersey and wear it with pride.”

By committing to Donaldson for only one year, the NL East-winning Braves addressed their top priority while leaving themselves plenty of financial flexibility beyond 2019. They have some of the most talented young players in the game, led by NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr., and didn’t want to make a move that impeded their long-term progress.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I think it’s a win-win across the board,” Anthopoulos said. “We love Josh. We’re thrilled to have him. But it’s a one-year deal. Beyond one year, we don’t know what’s going to happen, other than we hope we’re pouring champagne over each other’s heads and he’s had an MVP year again. It would be a good problem to have.”

Donaldson was AL MVP in 2015 after hitting 41 homers and leading the league with 123 RBIs in his first year with the Blue Jays. He was acquired from Oakland in a blockbuster deal engineered by Anthopoulos, who was then Toronto’s general manager.

Lakers unable to complete comeback, but James will value great shots

Anyone that has paid attention to LeBron James’ career — whether he was dishing to Donyell Marshall when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, or Udonis Haslem when he was with the Miami Heat — should not have been surprised Sunday when, with less than 20 seconds left and the Los Angeles Lakers down by two, James passed it to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for an open 3-pointer to try to win it.

“I always got a chance at a shot,” James said of his positioning — two feet in the paint with seemingly an angle to sneak a layup by Nikola Vucevic — cheap nfl jerseys china nike when he chose to kick it out to Caldwell-Pope.

The results, of course, were a miss by his less-talented teammate and a 108-104 loss for the Lakers, their second to the middling Orlando Magic in little more than a week.5

This is how James approaches the game. This shouldn’t be a newsflash. To him, a player taking a good shot (no matter how great he is) isn’t as valuable as any player (no matter what his ability is) taking a great shot.

It did not matter that Caldwell-Pope was 1-for-5 in the game at the time — including a missed 3 from nearly the same spot on the court just about a minute earlier.

The “Is He More Michael or Magic?” debate is tired at this point. James will execute how he sees fit. And so, similarly, those taking issue with James taking a potential go-ahead 3 of his own on a step-back move prior to that Caldwell-Pope possession — wishing he would have put the ball on the floor against Aaron Gordon, who was saddled with five fouls and guarding him on the perimeter — there’s no video game controller that will allow fans to make James do what they want.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

End-of-game situations are, by their nature, consequential. It is understandable that they are scrutinized and picked apart more than other sequences in the game. And seeing James buck his recent trend of struggling with clutch free throws when he went 2-for-2 from the line to tie it 104-104 with 2:24 remaining only served to make the Lakers going scoreless from there that much more disappointing. That’s understandable too.

Manchester United scouring Asia for the next Park Ji-sung, Shinji Kagawa

Manchester United are continuing to search for the next Park Ji-sung or Shinji Kagawa, according to their East Asian scout.

Kei Tamura covers Japan and South Korea for the English giants and, after recommending a teenage Kagawa to Cerezo Osaka in 2006, the Japan-based talent spotter would love nothing more than to nike nfl jerseys cheap china take a new generation of superstars from the region to Old Trafford.

“I am looking hard for the second Park Ji-sung and the successor to Kagawa,” Tamura told Sports Seoul during a visit to watch Pohang Steelers take on Jeonbuk Motors in the K-League.6

“I keep track of players who can be as good.”

The scout added that he is part of a global network of talent-finders, tasked with hunting down players with specific characteristics that United boss Jose Mourinho is searching for.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“We are looking for players that meet the specific criteria of head coach Jose Mourinho,” he said. “The scout team leader meets with Mourinho and is presented with detailed instructions.”

Tamura admitted that finding the next Asian superstar would not only help Manchester United challenge at the top of the Premier League, but there would also be off the pitch benefits.

“There is no doubt that signings Korean and Japanese players can have a positive effect in the Asian market,” Tamura added.

‘Trash’ to treasure: Bills QB Josh Allen runs over Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey called Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen “trash” in an offseason interview with GQ, then doubled down on his assessment this week.

Allen responded by setting a team record for a quarterback with 99 rushing yards on 13 carries, including a 14-yard fourth-quarter scramble for a touchdown and another 45-yard run to help seal a 24-21 win. Allen had 101 rushing yards before two kneel-downs to end the game.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“Josh is a baller,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said. “They can say whatever they want to say about Josh. Jalen can say whatever he wants to say about Josh. Josh came in there and handled that defense today.”

The performance topped the franchise’s previous single-game mark of 79 yards, set by Tyrod Taylor in 2015.5

“Josh played phenomenal,” Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “I would like to see what [Ramsey] thought now, after Josh played as well as he played today. Playing physical. He ran over some of the defensive players and made some big plays. When you talk, you have to show up and show out. Josh was able to do that by just showing the way he played today.”

Allen’s efforts might not be enough to put the Bills, who improved to 4-7, back in the conversation for the playoffs. But after being sidelined for four games with an elbow injury, Allen returned to the lineup and gave the Bills promise for 2019 as they close out this season with a six-game stretch in which Allen’s development will be paramount.

Despite not having played since Oct. 14, Allen was spectacular in the first quarter Sunday. He completed 5-of-6 passes for 125 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown strike to undrafted rookie wide receiver Robert Foster in which Allen managed a strong and accurate throw despite being sandwiched by multiple Jaguars defenders. Foster, who caught passes of 47 and 43 yards from Matt Barkley in a Nov. 11 victory over the New York Jets, again led the Bills with 94 receiving yards.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

The Bills, who scored 41 points in their Week 10 win over the Jets, have scored 65 points in their past two games after managing only 96 in their first nine games, when they went 2-7.

“I said before the Jets game that this offense is really close,” Allen said. “It showed in the last two weeks of what we’re capable of doing. Matt [Barkley] came in against the Jets and did a heck of a job. … Coach [Sean McDermott] says that this is a time for me and us to grow, and I’m doing that and trusting the guys around me.”

Rajon Rondo serves as coach on floor for ‘Baby Lakers’

The morning after breaking his right hand, Rajon Rondo was at the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice facility barking out insights and instructions to his teammates.

As usual.

“He was talking. Surprise, surprise,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said with a smile. “He was talking a lot.”nike nfl cheap jerseys

With his hand swelling through its splint, Rondo directed Brandon Ingram and players on the second-unit through sets in preparation for their next game at the Orlando Magic.6

Rondo lobbied Walton again to be a part of the team’s upcoming three-game road trip and then he was gone, off to Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute to have Dr. Steven S. Shin repair the third metacarpal in his right hand.
LeBron James’ voice is without question the most important and influential in the Lakers’ locker room; but several of the younger players view Rondo’s leadership as second, if not on par, to that of James.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

While some coaches and execs told ESPN over the summer that Rondo could be a pain for the Lakers, the point guard has been a coach on the floor and mentor to the young core for Walton.

Given the freedom to be himself, Rajon Rondo has been … Rajon Rondo. The Lakers have seen the acclaimed basketball IQ. They’ve also seen his unpredictability, his fire manifesting in a flurry of punches in his first game in Staples, resulting in a three-game suspension after the NBA ruled he had spit at Chris Paul.

But his biggest — and now primary — impact will be on the development of the “Baby Lakers.” Rondo has been trying to influence Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart by example and instruction. And with the sidelining of the veteran point guard for at least four weeks, that balance will tilt entirely toward instruction.

How the Chiefs coached the recklessness out of Patrick Mahomes

One of the third-quarter throws that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes made recently against the Denver Broncos broke a lot of the NFL’s unwritten rules for a successful pass.

The right-handed Mahomes was drifting to his left. He threw the ball late to the middle of the field. The pass was made across his body.

But Mahomes still made it work. Tight end Travis Kelce was open and the Chiefs got a 29-yard gain on the play and, eventually, a field goal on the drive.

This was a case, and there have been others this season with Mahomes, when the Chiefs have benefited from letting their quarterback use his uncommonly strong arm.

“They never encourage that,” Mahomes said of coach Andy Reid and the other offensive assistants. “As long as you complete it and you get the first down, they’re fine with it. At the same time, you have to know when not to do that.
Mahomes has yet to get himself or the 5-0 Chiefs into trouble with any of his daring passes. The Chiefs have tamed Mahomes, who arrived with a reputation for making some reckless passes, without taking away the qualities that attracted coach Andy Reid to him in the first place.

That’s a big reason why Mahomes, in his first season as a starter, has 14 touchdown passes with only two interceptions heading into Sunday night’s game against the Patriots in New England.

“Most guys are told not to do that,” said fullback Anthony Sherman, who was referring to the Kelce pass but could have been talking about other unconventional Mahomes passes. “He goes out there and executes it and it’s like, ‘OK, I guess you can do that.’ … Coach Reid gives him the ability that if he thinks he can get it there, throw it and get it there. He knows he’s going to have to get the ball into some tight windows, but he trusts his arm enough.

Breanna Stewart plays like the MVP she is in Storm’s Game 2 win

Breanna Stewart already has an extensive trophy collection at age 24: four NCAA titles at UConn, the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year award and this season’s MVP honor. So there was absolutely nothing unexpected about her performance in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday in a 75-73 Storm victory. Nor about what she did in Friday’s Game 1, an 89-76 Storm win that set the tone for this series.

Still, when you come up big when the spotlight is the brightest and the stakes are highest, that’s how you build “legend” points. Stewart scored 25, plus had 7 rebounds and 3 assists, as the Storm took a 2-0 lead in the WNBA Finals on Sunday. That followed her 22 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists in the opener.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

If you’re a longtime Seattle fan, it might have made you think about the last time Seattle was in the WNBA Finals — 2010 — and another stellar performance by a Storm MVP post player.6

Of course, Bird referring to her own closing game of the semifinals as “lucky” is self-deprecatingly hilarious. If point guards were more fairly considered for the season MVP award, Bird would also have one by now. But her point about the consistency of Stewart’s success is well taken, because that requires mental toughness and no fear of the moment, as well as pure physical skill.

Stewart has that feeling for being good all the time, but also knowing how to find another gear to really crank it up. Jackson had that, too, and Stewart celebrated the Storm’s previous dynamic duo with Bird’s and Jackson’s names on her sneakers for Sunday’s game.

Bird is still at it, Jackson is cheering on the Storm while watching the series from her home in Australia, and both, no doubt, are proud of Stewart. Other than two missed free throws with 16.9 seconds left — which could have come back to haunt the Storm, but didn’t — Stewart did her MVP best.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“Right from the jump, I just wanted to be really aggressive,” Stewart said. “You knew that this was Game 2, and they were going to come out like a better D.C. team than we saw in Game 1.

Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot ready to repay Jose Mourinho for faith in him

Diogo Dalot stood in the tunnel at Old Trafford after his first 78 minutes in a Manchester United shirt.

There is an ice pack strapped to his right knee — “precaution,” he says with a smile — having played a game of football for the first time in more than five months.

Since his last appearance — a 2-0 win for Porto over Boavista in March — he has undergone knee surgery, joined United in a £19 million deal and been hailed as “the best young full-back in Europe” by Jose Mourinho.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

It has been a meteoric rise for a 19-year-old who has still only made eight senior appearances. “It has not been easy,” he tells ESPN FC when asked about how life has changed in the last few months.9

“It has felt like a dream. You have to be prepared mentally for these things and I think I have done that. I have prepared for all the challenges I could face and I think I’m ready.

“I have had my friends and my family to help me. They are the reason I have come so far so quickly and the reason why I am here.”

Dalot’s dad and sister were among the family members who flew to Michigan in the summer to watch the preseason game against Liverpool in the Big House even though they knew he would not play, walking around Ann Arbor with “Dalot 20” proudly plastered across their backs.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

He has enlisted friends and relatives to help him settle in Manchester after jetting off to the United States almost immediately after signing with the club in June.

“I like to keep my family close,” he said. “I keep switching from friends, family and cousins so there are a lot of people here to help me. They go everywhere with me.

“It has been good. I’m settled. I like the city and I like the people. The people are nice. I think I’m a nice guy too so hopefully we match!”