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Liverpool stumble on Premier League title march with draw at Everton

Liverpool’s march to the Premier League title took a slight wobble as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Everton in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side went into the game, their first competitive match in 103 days, knowing a victory would allow them to secure their first league title in 30 years on Wednesday with a win at home to Crystal Palace.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Both teams showed rust in a lacklustre first half that saw James Milner make way for Joe Gomez just before the break as the teams headed to the dressing room goalless after the opening 45 minutes.

It was more of the same in the second half, with Liverpool dominating possession and going close on several occasions but continuing to lack a cutting edge on their finishing.8

“It was very intense,” said Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk. “Both sides created small opportunities, they had the big one against the post. Everyone is just happy to be back, we didn’t lose and it is another point towards our goal.”

With 10 minutes remaining Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s clever flick from a low Gylfi Sigurdsson cross was pushed out by Liverpool keeper Allison and Tom Davies’ follow-up shot hit the post.

Liverpool, who left Mohamed Salah on the bench, lacked their usual potency in attack with their best opening coming in the 35th minute when Roberto Firmino screwed a shot wide from a promising position while Fabinho went close late on with a curling free kick.

Both Klopp and his Everton counterpart Carlo Ancelotti handed players first league starts with Japan’s Takumi Minamino in the Liverpool attack and 19-year-old Anthony Gordon up-front for the home side — although neither were able to make much impact.

“We didn’t have enough chances. Most of the time we were dominant but they had the biggest chance,” said Klopp. “I liked a lot of things about our game but we didn’t have those moments in attack, we didn’t have the rhythm.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“Everton defended really well and we were not smart enough to use the space. That is normal when you start to play again.

“It was a real fight. Both teams showed they understand it is a derby. Intense, physical, all players were all in.

“The point is one we deserve. When I think of all the derbies here, they looked pretty similar. Everton were well organised so we had to run a lot but we looked fit and ready.”

Liverpool host Crystal Palace on June 24 at Anfield and can seal a first Premier League title in 30 years with a win if Manchester City lose or draw with Burnley on Monday.

‘I don’t feel cheated one bit’: Pitchers who gave up home runs to both McGwire and Sosa in ’98 tell their tales

Rick Reed, a righty for the New York Mets, allowed McGwire’s 13th and 51st homers in 1998. “He was just big. I was like, ‘My god, can we just get this at-bat over with?'” Reed said. “Every time he came up, my thinking was, ‘Please, God, just don’t let him hit the ball back up the middle. Let him hit it anywhere he wants to but not back up the middle.’ When I was in the minor leagues, Randy Velarde hit a ball back up the middle, and I kid you not, that hit the button on the top of my hat. If McGwire had hit one back up the middle, I could only imagine what it would’ve looked like — or sounded like. Because I wouldn’t have seen it.”

Jim Parque was a rookie for the Chicago White Sox in 1998, and the first two home runs he allowed in his big league career were to Sosa on June 5, and McGwire on June 10. He laughed with empathy when he heard how Reed had feared a ball being hit up the middle by McGwire. “Oh, yeah. You’ve got a gorilla up there in McGwire. Those two guys, they were just epic — muscle tone, power guys. The way their bats cut the plane, and how it got through the plane, it almost looked like every pitch was going to come back through the middle. … With Sosa and McGwire, it was basically like they had a tee there and the barrel was there the whole time. As a pitcher, you’re thinking, ‘How the hell do I pitch around this?’ That’s what we do as pitchers — pitch around the barrel.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Jason Bere allowed McGwire’s 29th home run that season while with the White Sox and Sosa’s 56th after being released and signed by the Cincinnati Reds. “It was almost like the whole game was about their at-bats,” he said.8

“I didn’t appreciate back then what those guys were able to do. Those guys had it all,” he said. “They might not have defined it in [modern] terminology, but they knew back then exactly what they were trying to accomplish. Plate coverage — get the barrel in the zone as quickly as you can and keep it there as long as you can. They had really big flat spots in their swings, rather than coming down and trying to create backspin. They worked on meeting the ball squarely — maybe not matching pitch plane, but the flatter the barrel is through the zone, the more opportunity you will meet the pitch plane. They were masters at it, and that’s why they did so well.”

Andy Benes, who played for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998 and surrendered McGwire’s 31st and Sosa’s 43rd, said of McGwire: “I don’t think people realize that he was a really good hitter. … He didn’t swing at a lot of bad pitches, and when you made a mistake, he had a pretty good opportunity to put the barrel on it. So he wasn’t just purely a power hitter. I remember him as being a better low-ball guy — he’d drop the barrel on the ball, and that’s not as common for right-handed hitters.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“He would never take practice swings when he was in the on-deck circle. He would visualize, and he knew what every pitcher could do. He took good, quality at-bats. He was a patient hitter, but when he got a pitch to swing at, he cut it loose.”

Reed on McGwire: “He was just so strong. You could make him look like a fool with an off-speed pitch, so that he was out on his front foot, and he’d still hit the ball 450 feet. You just hoped he didn’t come up to the plate with the bases loaded, or a couple of guys on.”

Benes on Sosa: “He could really cover the plate. He could hit a lot of balls the opposite way. Tremendous power, bat speed. He was more of an up hitter. In those years, in the mid-to-late ’90s, he was a really hard out. … When he was dialed in, he was one of the best hitters in the game because he could take the ball the other way. … Mike Piazza was like that. … You had to work on keeping the ball down and make [Sosa] aware you might come inside.”

Reed: “Those guys just had a magical year that we will never see again. We may see one guy — Pete Alonso, he may hit like 2,000 home runs — but I don’t think we’ll see multiple guys hitting 60, 70 home runs. No way. I don’t think so.”

Harry Kane won’t stay at Tottenham ‘just for the sake of it’

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane said on Sunday that he could leave the Premier League club if the team does not progress in the right direction as he wants to win trophies “sooner rather than later.”

Kane has scored 181 goals for Spurs in all competitions — averaging 30 goals a season since his breakthrough into the starting lineup in 2014 — but he is yet to win a trophy with the London club.

The England striker signed a six-year contract extension in 2018 that would keep him at Spurs until 2024 but admitted in an Instagram Q&A with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp that he could not guarantee he would stay if the club was not successful.

“I’ll always love Spurs, but it’s one of them things. I’ve always said if I don’t feel like we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there just for the sake of it,” Kane said.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve and become better. I want to become a top, top player, so it all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team.8

“So, it’s not a definite ‘I’m going to stay there forever’ but it’s not a no either.”

The closest Kane has come to winning a trophy was in the League Cup final in 2015 and the Champions League final last season, with Spurs losing to Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively.

The England striker signed a six-year contract extension in 2018 that would keep him at Spurs until 2024 but admitted in an Instagram Q&A with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp that he could not guarantee he would stay if the club was not successful.

“I’ll always love Spurs, but it’s one of them things. I’ve always said if I don’t feel like we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there just for the sake of it,” Kane said.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve and become better. I want to become a top, top player, so it all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team.

“So, it’s not a definite ‘I’m going to stay there forever’ but it’s not a no either.”

The closest Kane has come to winning a trophy was in the League Cup final in 2015 and the Champions League final last season, with Spurs losing to Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively.

Patrick Beverley credits Lakers but says guarding LeBron ‘not hard at all’

Patrick Beverley was effusive in giving credit to the Los Angeles Lakers for coming out “with a lot more juice” in their first win over the LA Clippers this season.

“We gotta give them a lot of credit,” Beverley said after Sunday’s 112-103 defeat. “… They took it personal … It’s one game. Of course, living in L.A., man, it’s hard to deal with this loss, but we have to wash it down the shower, keep getting better, and we will.”

Beverley’s competitiveness was still churning when a reporter tried to ask the Clippers’ proud two-time All-Defensive performer what kind of challenge LeBron James presented defensively. Beverley repeatedly interrupted with the same answer.

When the reporter reframed his question by asking Beverley to describe what it’s like as a defender when James is trying to force a switch — as he did a few times late in the fourth quarter, when he scored 12 of his 28 points — Beverley quickly replied, “Not hard at all.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

James made seven of 17 shots overall in the game but did not take any against Beverley, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.8

Coming off a big win over Milwaukee on Friday, James and the Lakers handed the Clippers their first loss when at full strength. The Clippers were previously 10-0 when coach Doc Rivers had his full roster available.

Beverley, the Clippers (43-20) and Rivers were quick to credit the Lakers (49-13) with wanting this game more, executing better and being the more physical team. But they also made it clear that their first loss to their Staples Center hallway rivals in three meetings isn’t a setback by any means.

“It’s hard to beat any team three times in this league,” said Paul George, who scored 31 points but was held to two in the fourth quarter. “… They beat us in the third game. We got another one. It doesn’t set us back. They played. They were the team that really wanted it. They went and got it today. We have to play them one more time. Life goes on. We’re not down about it. Just keep it rolling.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points but was held to two rebounds and zero assists, marking the first time this season that he failed to record an assist. The Clippers had a season-low 12 assists, and Rivers groaned afterward about the team’s lack of ball movement and pace to go with the players’ physicality waning after the opening minutes of the game.

“The Lakers just played more physical. They were into it more, they executed more, they deserved the game tonight,” Rivers said. “They really did. The fact that we had chances was unbelievable to me.

“I really thought they had the better spirit tonight towards the game. And honestly, in the first two, I thought we had the better spirit in it. We’ll see them again.”

Green: Kawhi wanted ‘his own route,’ not Lakers

As Danny Green — perhaps Kawhi Leonard’s closest teammate, having paired with him to win championships in both San Antonio and Toronto — waited on Leonard’s free-agent decision last week, he was left in the dark just like the rest of the world.

Except he was pretty sure of one thing: Leonard would not be joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I think all of it was a shock to me,” Green said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “Except not as much of a shock Kawhi going to L.A. The Clippers, anyway. I didn’t see him coming this route [to the Lakers].

“I feel like he wanted to go his own route. I think it was between them and going back (to Toronto). I think the year that he had and what those fans brought this season and everything, it was hard for him to turn it down and leave Toronto. But I knew he wanted to be closer to home.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china6

Leonard, a native of Riverside, California, orchestrated the Paul George trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Clippers behind the scenes, spurning the Lakers — who had $32 million in cap space on hold for him — and the Raptors, who wanted to retain the 2019 Finals MVP and defend their championship. And Green then became the Lakers’ top target.

Shortly after Leonard informed the Lakers they were out of consideration, they pivoted to offer Green a two-year, $30 million contract, and followed that deal by reaching agreements with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins and eventually Avery Bradley to fill out the roster.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Green, a 10-year veteran with a career 40.4% mark on 3-pointers, said deciding on the Lakers was simple.

“It wasn’t very hard, man,” he said. “LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis are here. Obviously when you’re with a winning team and you’ve won, you want to run it back if it’s possible. But that wasn’t going to happen. And even if it did happen, I don’t think they had room for me there [in Toronto]. So you go to the next-best team you think in the league is and that was here.”

Not that the wait until he got to make that decision wasn’t excruciating. Free agents could begin negotiations with prospective teams on June 30. Leonard didn’t make his choice until July 5. And Green — knowing there could be a pretty payday waiting for him in L.A. if Leonard didn’t form a superteam alongside James and Davis — had no choice but to stand in line until Leonard punched his free-agency ticket first.

What can Patrick Mahomes do for an encore in 2019?

Patrick Mahomes may not throw 50 touchdown passes and for more than 5,000 yards in 2019, one year after he became the second quarterback in NFL history to accomplish both feats in the same season.

But the Kansas City Chiefs still believe whatever they get from Mahomes will be considerable. What they saw from him last season, his first as a starter, convinced them of that.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The Chiefs, hoping this season to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years, overhauled their defense during the offseason. They hired a mostly new defensive coaching staff, led by coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and installed a 4-3 base defense. They acquired as many as seven new defensive starters, most notably end Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu.

But it’s the offense, led by the league MVP in Mahomes, that will again have to lead the way if the Chiefs are going to win the championship. Can the third-year quarterback repeat last season’s gaudy numbers? It has never been done in back-to-back seasons. Plus, the Chiefs are without star running back Kareem Hunt, who they released late last season after video surfaced showing him shoving and kicking a woman. They also may be without top wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who is suspended as the NFL investigates his possible involvement in a child abuse case.7

Even without Hunt and possibly Hill, the Chiefs are expecting the product to be as good or better than it was last season, when they lost to the New England Patriots in overtime of the AFC Championship Game.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“We know that we are close and we have a pretty good team,” Veach said. “We aren’t trying to build for the future. We are trying to win now. We are going to stay aggressive.”

They’ll need growth from Mahomes, as good as he was last season, to get where they want to go. And he knows it.

“You have to improve yourself every single year,” Mahomes said. “… As I go into this season, I know that I need to even step it up even more, how I take care of body, nutrition, but even the prehab and the rehab and all the different stuff that you have to do in order to keep yourself at that top-notch level when the end of the season comes.”

Mahomes said he has started working on an offseason checklist to make himself better. He’s looking at his mistakes from last season and trying to improve his footwork, especially in the pocket.

“I feel like at times last year I would get, I don’t want to say lazy but basically lazy with how I was handling my feet in the pocket,” Mahomes said. “It would disrupt timing on throws, so keep working on those things so they can be more and more consistent as I go on.”

Jozy Altidore blasts Toronto FC president over ‘games of ego’

After limping out of Friday night’s game, Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore said his injury could have been avoided had club president Bill Manning “put his ego aside” and allowed a former trainer to stay with the club.

Altidore left Toronto’s 4-3 win over Minnesota United in the 82nd minute with hamstring tightness, then sought out reporters to express his dissatisfaction with management.

“It’s bittersweet because this could have been avoided, but you’ll have to ask Bill Manning why it’s not avoided,” Altidore said of his exit. “It’s just disappointing. I’m just disappointed.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Altidore said that following former MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco acrimonious exit from Toronto FC this winter, the club also cut ties with trainer Giuseppe Gueli, who had worked with Altidore and a number of players “every day” to prevent muscle injuries.

And Altidore said Manning’s “vendetta” against Giovinco and those associated with him was what led to Gueli’s termination.4

“Well, we had a trainer here the last three years that’s been helping me with muscle injuries, but because he was attached to Seba [Giovinco], he’s not allowed at the club, which I think is ridiculous,” Altidore said. “And so now this is what I’m faced with — games of egos and that (kind of) thing. Hopefully [Manning] can put his ego aside and I can get the guy that’s kept me healthy, kept Michael [Bradley] healthy, kept a bunch of the guys healthy, and we can make things move forward.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“He’s not here. He’s not around, so you can’t find him,” Altidore said. “You go to his office and he’s not there, he’s travelling, he’s this and that, so I wish I knew, but I don’t know.”

In a text message sent to ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle, Manning said of Altidore that “he was frustrated” and added that he would talk privately to the U.S. international striker.

Bradley was more diplomatic of his longtime Toronto and United States teammate when asked about Altidore’s comments.

“Jozy is a guy who feels like at this point in his career he knows exactly what he needs,” Bradley said. “He knows exactly what he needs to do day in and day out to keep himself healthy, fit and ready to play at the highest level.

Bears TE Miller retires 1½ years after leg injury

Miller entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009, but battled injuries throughout most of his career. Miller landed in Chicago at the tail end of the 2013 season after being cut by the Jags and Buccaneers. The tight end spent the 2014 season on injured reserve before emerging as a key offensive contributor for the Bears in 2015.

The team honored Miller as the Bears’ 2018 Ed Block Courage Award winner last week, and the veteran, who has not played since the leg injury occurred close to 19 months ago, hinted that he planned to make a decision soon about his future.

“There will be a time, probably soon, that we’ll make that decision,” Miller said on April 9. “I haven’t made that decision yet. It’s something we’re exhausting every option we can. I know it’s getting close. I can’t hold it hostage forever. And I don’t plan to, but there are some things I need to try and do physically and see if it’s possible. What we’ve been doing rehab-wise and communication-wise with the franchise is we’re going to give it a little bit of time to kind of see where we go, and when that point comes, I know I’ll have given every single thing I had to do that. And I’ll be comfortable any which way that it happens.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Miller was rushed to University Medical Center New Orleans on Oct. 29, 2017 after he dislocated his left knee while making an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone against the New Orleans Saints.6

Miller’s leg bent awkwardly on the play, and he stayed down for several minutes until he was taken off the field on a cart.

Officials later ruled that Miller did not maintain possession of the ball, negating a touchdown.

Doctors performed emergency vascular surgery that night to repair a damaged artery in Miller’s left leg that stemmed from the knee dislocation. Miller was hospitalized in New Orleans for eight days before being transported back to Chicago in a medevac jet.

Miller underwent a total of nine surgeries, but was a regular visitor to the Bears’ team facility last season, where he underwent rehabilitation on the leg and assisted whenever possible.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Miller is now able to walk without a noticeable limp, but admitted last week that he still experiences discomfort after he jogs.

As of last week, Miller said the Bears had not discussed any permanent non-football playing role for him moving forward, but given Miller’s popularity among teammates and fans, it would not be a surprise if the organization retained him in some capacity.

“I had a first-class seat throughout all of last year, and in a weird way it was one of my favorite seasons,” Miller said. “Not being able to be on the football field and do the things I love was difficult, but to see that whole thing take place, Coach Matt Nagy coming in and the regime change and everything put together, it was special because now you see the game through a different viewpoint.

Texans still in need of left tackle to protect Deshaun Watson

For as good a quarterback as Deshaun Watson has been in his first two seasons, the Houston Texans have been unable to put a solid offensive line in front of their franchise player.

And while Watson’s ability to move around in the pocket has covered some of the mistakes made by his offensive linemen, he was still sacked an NFL-leading 62 times last season. Watson didn’t miss a game, but he had to play through injuries to his ribs and lungs, while continuing to take those hard hits.

So far this offseason, the Texans have done little to fix that issue. The Texans re-signed Seantrel Henderson, who broke his lower leg in the 2018 season opener, and expect him to be their starting right tackle. Houston also added tackle Matt Kalil in free agency on a one-year deal, but he is coming off a knee injury that caused him to miss the entire 2018 season.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

General manager Brian Gaine didn’t think there was a deep tackle class in free agency, and the Texans didn’t want to overspend to sign tackle Trent Brown, who signed a four-year, $66 million contract with the Raiders last month. It’s easy to see why teams are hesitant to give out huge contracts to offensive linemen in free agency. Last offseason, Nate Solder signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the Giants and underperformed the contract in his first season. According to Pro Football Focus, Solder ranked 16th out of 35 qualifying left tackles in 2018.6

Of course, there’s still time to address the need at tackle, and Houston is likely to use at least one of its three picks in the first two rounds on the position. And there will be pressure to perform right away for that player.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

O’Brien said while it is possible for an offensive lineman to develop and play in his first year, “it’s not easy.” The head coach pointed out that the closer they play to the ball, the more difficult the transition is from a strength and knowledge standpoint.

“Most of these guys, first of all, in college, they’re in these great offenses in college, but they’re in two-point stances,” O’Brien said. “They’re not in three-point stances there. They’re not run blocking a whole lot — some of these schools — I’m not saying every school, but they’re throwing the ball 60, 70 times a game. So, they’re backpedaling. Now you’ve really got to train the guy how to run block, because we have to be able to run the football. There’s a lot that goes into it.

Bogaerts, Red Sox agree to 6-year extension

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a six-year extension, the team announced Monday.

The deal is worth $132 million, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The deal, which was first reported Sunday as being close by Boston radio station WEEI, includes the $12 million the 26-year-old Bogaerts was scheduled to make this season, then $120 million over the final six years.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

The deal, according to sources, will include an opt-out clause that Bogaerts can exercise following the 2022 season, when he will be 30 years old.

There also is a team vesting option for 2026, worth another $20 million, the sources said.5

Bogaerts hit .288 last year and set career bests with 23 homers and 103 RBIs while helping the Red Sox win a franchise-record 108 games in the regular season and a World Series championship. The native of Aruba finished 13th in American League MVP voting.

Bogaerts has played all six-plus seasons in his major leagues with the Red Sox after making his debut in 2013. He has 75 career home runs, 834 hits and 387 RBIs and has appeared in the postseason four times.

Bogaerts, who has won two World Series rings with the Red Sox, said his closeness with his teammates and faith in the organization made Boston the right fit for him.

“It’s a very special place to play,” Bogaerts said. “The fans, the organization in general, expect winning, and I know my teammates know how much I love winning … whether it’s cards, baseball, dominoes, I don’t care.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Bogaerts is well liked in the locker room, and many of his teammates crowded the back of the room for the news conference in Oakland, California, including Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rafael Devers, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez, Matt Barnes, Brian Johnson, Brock Holt and others.

“I’m blessed to have teammates like that, and the coaching staff. … The group we had last year and the guys we have this year, it goes beyond regular guys, it’s a real family,” Bogaerts said.

It’s the second time in eight days that the team has made a big commitment to a player who helped it win a third consecutive AL East title and fourth World Series since the beginning of 2004. Sale signed a $145 million extension for five years on March 22.

Betts, the reigning AL MVP, is eligible for salary arbitration after this season and for free agency after 2020, when he will be just 28. He will earn $20 million this year.