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Joaquin calls for patience after Real Betis suffer season of mediocrity

Spain’s penultimate league weekend of the season was so intense, unpredictable, tearful and joyous in almost equal measure that you may well have missed a legend doing something legendary.

Real Madrid were torn apart, humiliated ahead of their season finale against Real Betis. Barcelona wandered their way through the post-Anfield hangover but still managed to almost fatally pierce Getafe’s Champions League aspirations.

Girona crumbled to almost certain relegation despite winning at Madrid this season, drawing with Barcelona at the Camp Nou and eliminating Atletico Madrid from the Copa del Rey — a message to Eusebio and his disdain for 3-5-2: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

On the weekend when Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were winning the title in England, why on earth wouldn’t Real Valladolid’s saviour — given that they are presided over by a guy, Ronaldo, who starred with the City coach in Bobby Robson’s Barcelona of the mid-1990s — be named Guardiola? Okay, Pep is Pep and Sergi isn’t related, but there was a hint of the universe being in harmony, a kiss from kismet.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Diego Godin’s emotional goodbye, Abdoulaye Ba being brainless again for Rayo Vallecano, Iago Aspas paying further homage to Antonin Panenka in scoring against Athletic — then sportingly consoling keeper Iago Herrerin for leaving him with egg on his face. It was all there, a cornucopia of quality, drama, relief, embarrassment, salvation — an Iberian A to Z of La Liga’s beauty and quality.6

The legendary act? Drawing 1-1 against a side who didn’t seem to have waved the white flag, despite their descent into the inferno of Spain’s second division being confirmed some time ago, Betis were about to end their wilting season to the sound of jeers, whistles, boos and potentially the sight of restless natives with pitchforks and lanterns storming the citadel of the Benito Villamarin that night to chase coach Quique Setien out of town.

There had been eight minutes of added time on the display board held up by the fourth official. In a game for which you care with all your heart and your nails are bitten down to your knuckles, you, me, indeed everybody who loves their football team would look at eight minutes as an odyssey — a universe of time in which equalisers, winners or more goals to humiliate a beaten opposition can be scored.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Oh this occasion, eight minutes seemed to the irritable, passionate, hot-headed and long-suffering Betis support as some kind of cosmic joke at their expense. “Mas basura, mas sufrimiento y mas verguenza,” (“More rubbish, more suffering and more shame”) were the kind of sentiments that were rippling around the venerable old stadium where poor old Betis and their aficionados will have to suffer either Barcelona or Valencia lifting the Copa del Rey in a couple of weeks’ time.

Joaquin had already put Los Verdiblancos 1-0 up early in the match with the kind of header that had Marco Van Basten scored it, would have merited anthologies of poetry, portraits hung in art galleries and perhaps a statue or two created in its honour. In doing so, he’d reached 100 professional goals, and 49 for Betis — becoming the 12th-oldest scorer in La Liga history.

Ex-Chelsea midfielder Mikel considering Premier League offers – source

John Obi Mikel is closing in on a return to the Premier League with a source telling ESPN FC that the former Chelsea star is considering multiple offers from around the league and could make a decision before heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria.

With Boro’s season over and no promotion, a source close to the Nigeria international said he has received multiple offers to return to the Premier League, including newly promoted Norwich and Sheffield United.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china4

“There are some options right now, and a few more we expect to see over the coming days,” the source told ESPN FC. “Once all the options are on the table, he will make a decision.”

That decision is likely to be made before the Africa Cup of Nations Finals.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Mikel has just been recalled to the Nigeria squad after nearly one year out, and is expected to lead his country to the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

“He will most likely make the decision before the finals, although that will depend on what is on the table,” the source added.

Jackson takes mound for 14th team, sets record

Edwin Jackson set a major league record by pitching for his 14th team when he made his debut for the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old right-hander allowed three runs — two earned — and six hits in five innings against San Francisco. He struck out two, walked one, hit a batter and left after 77 pitches with the score 3-3.

Jackson, who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for cash last week, broke a tie for most teams (13) that he had shared with Octavio Dotel.nike nfl jerseys cheap china6

He signed a minor league contract with Oakland last month and was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in three games — two at Triple-A and one at Class A. He gets paid at the rate of a $2 million salary while in the majors and can earn $500,000 in performance bonuses based on starts: $150,000 each for 15 and 18, and $200,000 for 20.

Jackson has gone 104-123 with a 4.60 ERA in 394 career games. He made his big league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003 and also pitched for Tampa Bay, Detroit, the Chicago White Sox, Arizona, St. Louis, Washington, the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta, San Diego, Miami, Baltimore and Oakland.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

He was 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts for the Athletics last season.

Left-hander Thomas Pannone was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo after going 1/3 with a 6.85 ERA in 14 games for the Blue Jays. Right-hander Matt Shoemaker was transferred to the 60-day injured list to open a spot on the 40-man roster.

Toronto has four starting pitchers on the injured list, including right-handers Clay Buchholz (shoulder) and Shoemaker (out for the season after knee surgery), and left-handers Ryan Borucki (elbow) and Clayton Richard (right knee).

Apparently The Regular Season Is Irrelevant In The NHL

While the opening round of the NBA playoffs so far could have been blindly simulated, chaos is governing the ice.

Ranked dead last in early January, the St. Louis Blues completed arguably the greatest midseason U-turn in NHL history by advancing to the conference semifinals. And that’s probably just the third-most-surprising storyline of this young postseason. Tampa Bay and Calgary, the top seeds in each conference, survived less than two weeks, combining to win a single game. Never before had the President’s Trophy-winning team been swept. Never before had the top seeds both been eliminated in the opening round.

It has already seemed like “the year of the underdog” in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. But unlike its hardcourt brethren, the NHL is accustomed to things not going to plan in the “second season.” So how does this postseason stack up against years past? Using the archived money lines at SportsOddsHistory.com, we can decipher a team’s implied probability of advancing and use that to rank the wildest opening rounds in Stanley Cup history.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

After marauding the league during the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning were installed as 1-to-4 favorites going into their series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jon Cooper’s outfit won the President’s Trophy behind 128 points and 62 regular-season wins, which tied for the most ever. Tampa was the league’s highest-scoring team by a generous margin, spearheaded by three 40-goal snipers — a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in nearly a quarter-century. Not since 2009-10 had there been a bigger favorite in a series.1 Columbus checked in at +325, which translates to a 23 percent implied probability of winning after adjusting for the cut of the bookmaker, or the vigorish.2 Tampa Bay fell apart against the new-kids-on-the-block Blue Jackets in what could be argued was the single biggest collapse in modern sport. What’s more, it was the first series win in Columbus franchise history.

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 19: Colin Wilson #22 of the Colorado Avalanche scores on the net of Mike Smith #41 of the Calgary Flames in Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on April 19, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB – APRIL 19: Colin Wilson #22 of the Colorado Avalanche scores on the net of Mike Smith #41 of the Calgary Flames in Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on April 19, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

“In today’s game with the parity, it’s not unusual that an eight [seed] beats a one anymore,” Cooper said after the loss. “Everybody’s that close.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

North of the border, the Calgary Flames were given a 67 percent implied probability of winning their series against the Colorado Avalanche. Bill Peters’s squad included the league’s second-best offense3 and a triumvirate of 30-goal scorers. After taking the series opener, Calgary got buried in four straight games by the Avalanche, a wild-card club with the 17th-best record in the NHL.

“Obviously we were the big underdogs,” Avs center Nathan MacKinnon said. “And no one picked us to win.”

But the pandemonium didn’t stop there. Despite not having home ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a 59 percent implied probability of winning their series against the New York Islanders. They were promptly swept. The Nashville Predators, which had reached at least the second round in three consecutive seasons, had a 61 percent implied probability against the Dallas Stars, but the Preds fell in just six games.

The Vegas Golden Knights, last season’s expansion surprise, were slight favorites over the San Jose Sharks despite not having home ice. But the Sharks came back from down 3-1 in the series to force a Game 7, in which they found the net four times on one power play and edged Vegas in an all-time classic. “That’s a once in a lifetime game,” Sharks center Logan Couture told The Athletic. “I don’t think my heart can take another one like that.”

Sens call up Brannstrom, 19; was in Stone deal

Ottawa Senators fans will get an early look at the key player the team received in the Mark Stone trade because the team is calling up 19-year-old defenseman Erik Brannstrom for the home game against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Senators traded all three of their top goal scorers at the deadline in Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.5

While the return for Duchene and Dzingel from Columbus centered on draft picks, Ottawa received a potential star in Brannstrom from Vegas. He was selected 15th overall in 2017 by the Golden Knights and is considered an elite puck-moving defensive prospect. The Knights also sent forward Oscar Lindberg and a second-round pick.

Brannstrom played 41 games with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL before the trade, scoring seven goals and adding 21 assists. In five games with Belleville since the deal, he has an assist.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Sweden native also played for his country in the world junior championships this year and had four goals in five games.

Drew Lock, Broncos will need to be patient

Drew Lock has worked with all kinds of coaches, plenty of throwing gurus and a host of other specialists.

Now perhaps he’ll need a patience coach. Because in between all of the throws, touchdowns and big moments, he has never really had to wait to play.

“It will definitely be a different transition,” Lock said Friday after his first on-field practice with the Denver Broncos. “… If I’m going through this transition, I’m glad to be behind Joe [Flacco] and hear what he has to say, learn from him, I’m excited to meet him, excited to get in the room with him and learn from a guy who’s won a Super Bowl.”

Lock knows, and has been told by the Broncos, that he will be the team’s backup quarterback, at best, if things go according to plan. Lock — taken in the second round with the No. 42 overall selection last month — was among the 47 players on the field and in the meeting rooms Friday. It was a mix of draft picks, undrafted rookies, tryout players and players who had been on a practice squad last season, who will go through the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Broncos coach Vic Fangio made it clear that Friday was essentially the first day of football school for Lock and everybody else in a Broncos uniform. Asked about Lock’s performance, Fangio pumped the brakes on social media blasts lauding Lock’s arm strength.6

“Nothing great one way or the other,” Fangio said. “He’s learning out here, I try not to make any value judgments here early.”

Lock said Friday he’ll have the patience to back up Flacco. And the Broncos, including Fangio and general manager John Elway, said they’ll also exercise patience as Lock transitions from a largely spread look at Missouri to the Broncos’ updated version of the West Coast offense.

Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said simply calling the play is one of the biggest transitions for a young quarterback. Plummer said one of the longer playcalls from his time in Mike Shanahan’s version of the West Coast offense would have been something like “shift to double wing right, Z fly, 76, U shallow cross.” Lock said he’s already getting a dose of that with calls that are “10-, 12-word plays.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“Language is a little different,” Lock said. “You have to spit the play out and it’s tougher to spit the play out than it is to actually go out and knowing what the play is. [But] nothing a little saying the plays in the mirror won’t fix. I’ll have to dive into that a little bit.”

Lock said he already has a comfort level with quarterbacks coach T.C. McCartney and offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, the latter of whom

Man United in hunt for Swansea winger Daniel James – sources

Manchester United are among a number of clubs in a race to sign Swansea City winger Daniel James, sources have told ESPN FC.

United, Everton, Newcastle and Leeds are all reported to be interested in the 21-year-old winger.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to comment on speculation about a move for James at a news conference on Friday, but sources have told ESPN FC that the Wales international is one of the players on his list of summer targets.6

Any deal would depend on United matching Swansea’s valuation, which is around £15 million.

James scored two goals in 20 games in the Championship this season and has been capped twice by Wales, who are managed by Solskjaer’s former United teammate Ryan Giggs.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Solskjaer is looking to strengthen every area of his squad over the summer, with a forward, defender and at least one midfielder his priorities.

A number of senior players could leave, with doubts over the futures of Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Ander Herrera and club captain Antonio Valencia are set to depart on free transfers after Sunday’s final game of the season against relegated Cardiff at Old Trafford.

Antonio Valencia’s Manchester United exit reminds fans of better days

Antonio Valencia is as renowned for sentiment as he is for speaking English, but romanticism has not been lacking in his recent social media output. The Ecuadorian international is about to leave Manchester United and Sunday’s final game of the season against relegated Cardiff City will be the last that the club plays with him on the books.

“I want to enjoy until the last moment with you Man United” was just one example of the relationship-ending tone set by the 33-year-old’s recent posts and Valencia, who has not played for United since a 2-0 win at Newcastle on Jan. 2, is likely to have the chance to say goodbye properly this weekend.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

History will remember Valencia as a very good player — “He’s a been a fantastic servant to the club,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday — during the 10 years since he arrived from Wigan Athletic. He is the current squad’s longest-serving player, with 338 appearances and 25 goals, and ranks 47th on United’s all-time list for games played.2

Valencia was bought to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Old Trafford for Real Madrid in 2009. Initially, the man who supported Boca Juniors and Ecuadorian side Nacional as a child and idolised Francesco Totti thought there was a disciplinary issue when Wigan manager Steve Bruce called him into his office, only to discover United were interested in him.

Sir Alex Ferguson told his new signing that his job was to beat players and cross to the forwards. It was one trick, but it worked; Valencia set up Wayne Rooney’s winner in the League cup final as part of an impressive debut campaign in Manchester.

“I had a good first season (he was named in the 2009-10 PFA team of the year) and my family came to see the final games when we beat Spurs 3-1 at Old Trafford,” Valencia once told me. “A few weeks earlier, we beat Bayern Munich 3-2. It was one of my best games, a really exciting match against one of the best teams in the world. We’d already knocked AC Milan out of the [Champions League], we were playing well but then we lost 2-1 in Munich. We knew we had to play well in Manchester and we did. Unfortunately we went out on away goals.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

As well as having to take the place of Ronaldo, who won the Ballon d’Or in his final year at United, Valencia had to contend with an unsettled right-back situation behind him.

“Unlike with previous partners on the right where I had a 50/50 partnership, my legs had gone playing behind Antonio,” Gary Neville tole me. “Ronaldo said: ‘I attack, you defend!’ With Antonio, I needed him to defend and attack for me and I sat there hoping that he’s do that and cover me. He was 90 percent and I was 10 percent.”

Valencia broke his leg against Rangers in September 2010, but returned to play a role in his club’s run to the following year’s Champions League final, which he started vs. Barcelona. In 2011-12, having signed a new contract, his form saw him named United’s player of the year and players’ player of the year.

ChiSox’s Anderson: Bat flips bring fun to game

Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, whose melee-inciting bat flip three weeks ago continues to follow him, told ESPN’s The Dan Le Batard Show on Wednesday that he is just trying to draw fans by having fun and isn’t worried about how other teams react to him.

“I like to go out and play with a lot of passion because that’s fun, and I think that draws attention to the fans and the kids,” Anderson said. “You know the kids love it. I’m on deck now, I get from the fans, ‘Hey, do the bat flip.’ So it’s cool stuff, and it’s all fun stuff. It’s nothing to disrespect anybody. But I think it’s a part of the game or it should be.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Not everyone in baseball shares his opinion. Anderson’s bat flip after a home run against the Kansas City Royals on April 17 led to him being hit in the backside with a 92 mph fastball one plate appearance later. After Anderson was hit by the pitch, he stepped toward the mound and the benches cleared.7

Anderson, 25, said if he broke some unwritten rule, he was unaware of it.

“I don’t really know the rules,” he said. “There’s not any for me. I can’t call them dumb because I don’t have any. … Nobody really came to me and said these are the rules, so I really don’t know what they are.”

A week after the bat flip against the Royals, Anderson hit a walk-off homer to beat the Detroit Tigers 12-11 and punctuated it with a bat flip. He isn’t worried that he might get payback for it later.

“I’m not bothered by other teams,” he said. “I go in and I’m trying to beat the other teams. I could really care less how they feel about me or how they think of me as a player. But I know my teammates understand me. I’m going to go out every day and give them what I got.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Anderson, 25, has been one of the breakout stars of 2019, batting .331 with 6 home runs, 20 RBIs and an American League-leading 12 stolen bases and doing it all his own way.

He recently told Sports Illustrated: “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson. That’s huge to say. But it’s cool, man, because he changed the game, and I feel like I’m getting to a point to where I need to change the game.”

Cora says Red Sox clubhouse isn’t divided

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora pushed back against recent media discussion of what could be perceived as a racial divide in the Boston clubhouse ahead of the team’s trip to the White House on Thursday.

Cora and several Red Sox players will not attend the ceremony with President Donald Trump to honor the World Series champions. The manager, speaking after a 2-1 extra-inning victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, said those absences should not be interpreted as a divided clubhouse.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“There’s been a lot of talk about what’s going on tomorrow and the clubhouse and we’re divided with race and politics,” Cora said. “Those kids went out there and played their hearts out. We know who we are in the clubhouse. I know a lot of people doubt that, but we did what we did last year and canceled the noise. We showed up every day, and we played.”5

In January, Cora was outspoken about his native Puerto Rico’s need for relief after Hurricane Maria killed an estimated 2,975 people there. At the time, Cora indicated that he would consider skipping the visit to the nation’s capital in response to Trump’s handling of the hurricane, and Cora officially announced Sunday that he would not attend.

“For everybody that’s talking about us and the situation and crushing us throughout the week — they played extra innings, didn’t give in, and they’re celebrating [reliever] Heath [Hembree] because of his first save and celebrating [outfielder] Jackie [Bradley Jr., who made a game-saving catch], and we go,” Cora said Wednesday. “There’s a group going home. There’s a group going to the White House. Friday, we get back to playing baseball.”

Among the Red Sox players opting out of Thursday’s trip are Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rafael Devers, Sandy Leon, Eduardo Nunez, David Price, Christian Vazquez and Hector Velazquez. Roughly 20 other players will attend the ceremony at the White House.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Politically, it didn’t matter who was in the White House,” Hembree said. “If I have an opportunity to go to the White House and meet the president, I’m going to go. Nobody tried to persuade me. They have their reasons why not to go.”

Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, a Venezuelan native, said, “For me, it’s not a big deal. It’s your decision. Make a choice. I’ll respect it. I don’t think that’s a big deal. If you want to go or you don’t want to go, that’s your decision.”

According to Boston.com, Rodriguez hasn’t made his intention for the White House trip known.