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  1. Daniel Robertson exhibits grittiness, blue-collar work ethic of his construction-working fatherSun, 28 May 2017 15:43:00 +0000
    CLEVELAND: Daniel Robertson grew up in a mobile home in La Puente, Calif, his father a construction worker supporting the family. Growing up, Robertson watched as his father, Michael, woke up at 4 a.m. for work every morning. Michael Robertson made himself lunch in the dark, sat in traffic for a couple hours, worked his shift at the construction yard, sat in another couple hours of traffic on the way back and then came home to his family, never once complaining or letting up on his fatherly duties. Well, thats just working hard. Thats just what you do, every day. There is no other way to approach life. Those are the lessons Daniel Robertsons father taught him. His world was blue collar through and through. Now 31 years old and an outfielder with the Indians, its how he approaches his own life. Its also how he plays baseball as one of the grittiest players in the game who has worked for every opportunity thats been given and who plays as hard and with as much hustle as anyone else youll see in the league. Like father like son. Michael had the construction yard. Daniel has the baseball diamond. Michael had a hammer and a tool belt. Daniel has his bat and glove. Both approach their jobs the exact same waythe only way they know how. Robertson does everything hard. He plays hard, he runs into walls hard (he recently made a terrific catch and did so while bouncing off the right-field wall like a bowling ball), he celebrates after a big play with the same excitement hes played with since he was a little kid. This season, he was out with a hamstring injury he sustained at the end of spring training but once healthyand in part due to injuries at the major-league levelhe was called up and has played well, hitting .294 with a .429 on-base percentage in 21 plate appearances entering Sundays game. Hes listed at 5-8, 205 pounds, and drives that frame to get every ounce out of it. He fits in well with the Cleveland, blue-collar way of going about things. Punch the clock, grab your lunch pail and go to work. Youll always find people who are bigger, strong, faster, and sure, when people say you cant do something, it adds to the fire, Robertson said. But most importantly, I have to understand there are things I have to take care of on a daily basis so Im getting better for tomorrow. There are only so many hours in the day, so if Im wasting it on what people are saying, I might miss something. Robertsons philosophy is to never let up, to always play with reckless abandon. Never let anyone else work harder. Its fueled his career. And it first and foremost came from watching dad. This is Major League Baseball. Its what we do, Robertson said. Its your job and you have a responsibility because it says Cleveland across my chest. So Im representing more than just myself. My dad showed me that, how youre supposed to work hard because he was representing more than just himself. He also had a son to take care of. A younger Robertson looked for the same qualities in his sports heroes. It isnt a surprise to learn that Pete Rose was his favorite player growing up. Or that he wanted to emulate Derek Jeter. Or that he wanted to take qualities from Brett Favre and Walter PeytonRobertson was a slot receiver in high school, a position that often requires toughness running routes over the middle of the field. There were a lot of guys that I looked up to who played with all-out effort, Robertson said. I tried to pick a little bit from all of them. I tried to look at anybody who played the game hard and the right way. Favre in the Super Bowl against the Patriots, throwing that touchdown pass, running down the field with his helmet in the air and jumping into his linemans arms showed that team aspect, caring about the guys youre going into battle with. And then one play, Jeters oppo-bomb in November in 2001. Its late into the night, the clock strikes midnight, and he drives the ball the other way. It just epitomized how the game can change in an instant and how its not about how you start, its about how you finish. It was a huge moment for understanding how you go about your business. Robertson attended Oregon State University and was drafted in the 33rd round by the San Diego Padres in 2008. He first cracked the big leagues with the Texas Rangers in 2014. He then moved on to the Los Angeles Angles in 2015, the Seattle Mariners in 2016 and now the Indians, after he came to camp as a non-roster invitee. Hes been in five different organizations and worn three different numbers over the past four seasons, all the while battling for playing time. Through it, hes kept his fathers lessons in mind. Little has changed in that regard.   He told me whatever youre going to do, do it with every ounce of your soul, Robertson said. If youre going to do something, make sure you do it the right way and do it as hard as you possibly can. Dont half-ass it. Never take any opportunity for granted. That has stuck with me today. Robertson still routinely speaks with his dad. But its never about his mechanics or his swing or his first step in the outfield. Its all in how he carries himself. If I ever feel like Im struggling, he just says keep working hard, Robertson said. Never says anything about adjustments or things I should do, he just says, Work hard, never give up. So Robertson shows up every day and does what he needs to do, goes where hes supposed to go and worries only about what he needs to. Because every day when Daniel was a kid, Michael Robertson woke up at 4 a.m. to make himself lunch and worked as hard as he could to support all those who we represented in that mobile home in La Puenta, Calif. Anything less would be unacceptable. And thats the only way for a Robertson to live. More...
  2. Stanley Cup Final: No-name defenders have been key to success of defending champion PenguinsSun, 28 May 2017 13:51:43 +0000
    PITTSBURGH: The handful of men who carry out the most thankless of tasks for the Pittsburgh Penguins are a rag-tag group thrown together by circumstance and a touch of foresight by General Manager Jim Rutherford.They are largely anonymous and blissfully so, only too happy to work in the considerable shadows created by the stars who play in front of them and their unquestioned leader, the one forced to watch the franchise’s run to a second consecutive Stanley Cup Final in immaculately tailored suits from the press box while he recovers from neck surgery.When defenseman Kris Letang’s star-crossed season ended for good in early April when he abandoned any hope of a comeback from the injuries that limited him to just 40 games this season, the chances of the Penguins becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles was supposed to vanish along with him.Yet here they are hosting the Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Monday night, four wins away from a repeat that seemed improbable seven weeks ago. And they’ve done it with a group of blue liners who lack Letang’s unique talents or the undeniable dynamic charisma of the defensemen like P.K. Subban who have helped power the Predators’ dominant sprint to the final.“That’s fine with us,” said Brian Dumoulin, who leads the Penguins in ice time during the postseason. “They’re great players and stuff like that. No chip on our shoulder. We know who we are as a D core.”They might be one of the few. A quick introduction.There’s well-traveled Ron Hainsey, the 36-year-old who needed to wait a record 907 games before reaching the postseason for the first time in his 14-year career.There’s Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta, the battle-tested veteran and the baby-faced kid from Finland, both of whom spent significant chunks of time on the injured reserve this season only to develop an unquantifiable chemistry during the playoffs.There’s Dumoulin, who has become the Penguins’ new iron man with Letang out. There’s Ian Cole, the thoughtful well-bearded conscience who revels in the more physical aspects of his job.There’s 39-year-old Mark Streit, who like Hainsey was brought in as insurance at the trade deadline then spent six weeks as a healthy scratch only to fill in capably when another spate of injuries struck in the Eastern Conference finals against the Ottawa Senators.Mostly, however, there’s Justin Schultz. Considered a disappointment during three-plus underwhelming seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, Schultz has spent 15 months with the Penguins remodeling his game.It’s Schultz who has taken over as the quarterback on the Penguins’ potent power play. It’s Schultz who has found a knack for the big moment. He delivered the winning goal in Game 4 of the second round against the Washington Capitals. He put the Penguins ahead in the third period of Game 7 against the Senators and ended up with the secondary assist on Chris Kunitz’s knuckler that finally put away thm in double overtime.Schultz is reluctant to talk about his transformation or the upper-body injury that sidelined him for four games during the Senators series. He returned for the decider to play more than 24 minutes, gritting his teeth all the way through.When asked if the injury limited his ability to get off the shot that became his third goal of the postseason, Schultz responded with typical modesty.“Not full but like I said, those guys did such a good job screening ... it didn’t have to be the hardest shot to get through,” said Schultz, who set a career-high with 51 points during the regular season and has added another 10 in the playoffs.Schultz, however, could always shoot. That’s never been the problem. It’s at the other end of the ice where he’s truly matured and likely made him one of the most coveted free agents to be in the process.The defenseman who never had any trouble jumping into the play has not become adept at thwarting them too.“He’s always had ability to excel on the offensive side,” said Penguins assistant Jacques Martin, who coaches the defense. “He’s got tremendous vision. He’s been able to replace Kris on the power play. The area [of growth] that’s most noticeable has been his defensive side ... his positioning. He’s improved his compete level, his use of his stick, his position. All areas he’s grown in over the season.”The Penguins have needed every last ounce of it as they have from the rest of their defensemen who has spent the last four months trying to replace the seemingly irreplaceable Letang.It’s been a group effort. More than once the Penguins have been forced to go long stretches in games with only five defensemen because one of them went down. More...
  3. RubberDucks report: After brief stint with Indians during pennant race last season, Perci Garner back in Double-A to work on controlSun, 28 May 2017 13:16:36 +0000
    The American League Championship ring Perci Garner won as a member of the Indians sits on his dresser.It’s a reminder of where the right-hander has been and where he wants to be again.Back with the RubberDucks, the Dover graduate has been working on his control.A player on the 40-man roster, Garner hasn’t forgotten a single second from his time with the parent club.Called up on Aug. 31, Garner appeared in eight games, posting 12 strikeouts and a 4.82 ERA in 9⅓ innings last season.“It was more of a fan-like experience at the end,” Garner said. “They asked me if I wanted to stay up [for the postseason], but I was honest. The arm had been through a lot. I spend a lot of the times on the couch cheering on my team because I’m from here.”That experience has changed his life immensely.A 28-year old signed as a free agent in 2015, Garner actually felt more relaxed pitching for the Indians in the heart of a pennant race.A seven-year minor leaguer, pitching for the Indians was more about the here and now and less about worrying who was in the crowd watching.“In the minors, you want to win, but it’s development first,” Garner said. “To be in that situation, most people think it adds more pressure, but to me when I got up there it was more about playing baseball instead of impressing people. I just went out there and tried to win the game and that helped me a lot.”That feeling especially came through in a Sept. 17 game against the Detroit Tigers. Called upon in a 0-0 game, the right-hander pitched one inning of no-hit ball with a walk and strikeout.It’s when he knew he belonged in the big leagues.Of course, sitting in a bullpen like the one the Indians have doesn’t hurt. Bryan Shaw was there with advice. The same went for Cody Allen, Zach McAllister, Andrew Miller and Dan Otero.“That was part of the experience that made it easy,” Garner said. “Guys like [Corey] Kluber just help you. I’ve heard horror stories of some teams and the hazing and what you have to do. When I got up there, you could tell they were going out of their way to make it more comfortable for me because they knew, ‘Hey, he’s going to help us win.’ When I got up there, it wasn’t a guy liking me or fining me for dumb stuff.”Now with the Ducks, manager Mark Budzinski is counting on the 2016 Eastern League All-Star to guide his young squad.“He’s invaluable building off of what he did here and in Triple A into the big leagues,” Ducks manager Mark Budzinski said. “He’s continuing learning from what he did last year and how difficult it can be at times.”Now, it’s a matter of tying up loose ends and getting back to where he feels he belongs.“It’s very important, especially for a guy my age. Maybe if you’re a 23-year old, 24-year old like [Bradley] Zimmer it’s a little different,” he said. “For me, especially how I envisioned my career and the way I wanted it to go, I want to get back up there and help them even though the bullpen doesn’t need that much help right now. It’s essential for me, not for my confidence or anything, but I just loved playing ball that mattered. It’s a whole new level.” More...
  4. Royals 5, Indians 2: Danny Salazars frustrating season continues, Indians fail to capitalize on opportunities in loss to RoyalsSun, 28 May 2017 03:20:57 +0000
    CLEVELAND: The Indians certainly had their opportunities but never could deliver the needed hit, wasting several scoring chances in a 5-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Saturday at Progressive Field.Led by Francisco Lindor’s solo home run in the first inning and Jason Kipnis’ RBI single in the third, the Indians took a 2-1 lead but were then held at bay the rest of the day. The Indians three times stranded multiple runners on base after the third inning, and all three times didn’t get a ball out of the infield.Facing Royals starter Jason Vargas (6-3), the Indians left the bases loaded in the fourth. Kipnis narrowly missed a grand slam down the right-field line with two outs but pulled it foul by a few feet. He then popped out to first base.The fifth and seventh innings ended with similar results. Jose Ramirez with two on and two out in the fifth popped out to second base. And with two on and one out in the seventh, Edwin Encarnacion grounded into an inning-ending double play.The Indians (24-23) finished the day 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.“We’ve got to get a line moving and keep it moving,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It seems like at times we get runners on with two outs. Then you have to get a hit as opposed to giving yourself a lot of opportunities. “When you don’t cash in, it’s not that big [of a] deal because you’ll have the next inning, you’ll have another opportunity. When you don’t, it’s really glaring.”The Royals (21-27) threatened while facing starting pitcher Danny Salazar (3-5) and finished the job against the bullpen. With the Indians leading 2-1 in the sixth, Salazar gave up a double and walked two to load the bases and end his day.Boone Logan’s first and only pitch was lined back up the middle by Alex Gordon for an RBI single to tie it 2-2. Facing Nick Goody, Alcides Escobar then rifled a two-run double just over the head of Lindor to give the Royals a 4-2 lead. Mike Moustakas added a solo home run against Shawn Armstrong in the ninth for an insurance run.Salazar allowed four runs — three earned — on six hits and five walks, continuing his slow, frustrating start to the 2017 season, in which he now has a 5.50 ERA.The Indians could be nearing a move with Salazar to try to get him on the right track. A couple of weeks ago the club revamped his pregame routine in an effort to fix his first-inning issues, though the results haven’t been quite what they wanted. Next for Salazar could be a temporary move to the bullpen, which could be made a bit easier with Corey Kluber’s possible return to the rotation on Thursday. The club has yet to talk through that decision, though.“I still think he didn’t command the ball where he wanted to, and there’s those walks that are mixed in that really hurt, like the inning when he came out,” Francona said. “We got out of innings, there was traffic the whole time. “We’ll kind of put our heads together and see what’s the next best step for him because I think he’s probably searching a little bit, too.”Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ. More...
  5. Indianapolis 500: Scott Dixon is the favorite but Fernando Alonso is in spotlightSun, 28 May 2017 03:20:36 +0000
    INDIANAPOLIS: One of IndyCar’s all-time greats will lead the field to green at the Indianapolis 500.All eyes, though, will be one row behind Scott Dixon as Fernando Alonso makes his debut in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Alonso has never raced on an oval before, never raced an Indy car and hasn’t done a rolling start in 20 years — and that was in a go-kart.So, yeah, Alonso lingered long after all the other competitors in the final driver meeting before Sunday’s race. The two-time Formula One champion peppered race director Brian Barnhart with questions for a solid 15 minutes before riding off through Gasoline Alley on his skateboard .He’s as ready as he can possibly be, and ranked fifth — the fastest rookie — on the speed chart during the final day of practice. Alonso has enjoyed every minute at Indy , but he’s not letting the hype around his quest to win racing’s version of the Triple Crown — he’s already won at Monaco in F1 and would like to someday run Le Mans — distract him from his mission.“There is still no emotion. Until Monday, there are no emotions allowed to enter your mind,” Alonso said. “The mind is so focused on the race. There is no space for the emotions right now.”That’s the intensity it will take to win the 101st running of the Indy 500. Still, it is Dixon who should be the favorite to win.The New Zealander had the fastest qualifying effort in 21 years to win the pole, and he’d like to drink the victor’s milk for the second time. Dixon won this race in 2008, he’s a four-time series champion and ranks fourth on the career win list behind only A.J. Foyt, Mario and Michael Andretti.It doesn’t hurt that Dixon this year is in a Honda, which has dominated the buildup to Sunday over rival Chevrolet. The Chevy camp — particularly Team Penske — has been dramatically overshadowed so far but finally showed better speed Friday. Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, veteran of the Penske camp, was fastest on Carb Day.“We keep working, digging, obviously finding a way,” Castroneves said. “We’re going to fight extremely hard out there and showing a little bit of speed certainly. We’re going for the big one on Sunday.”Team Penske has four of the top five drivers in the IndyCar standings, has won the last three races of the season and added two-time 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya to its lineup. Still, a win by a Chevy driver might be considered an upset based on how strong Honda has been. Although reliability on the Honda engines has been spotty — James Hinchcliffe had a failure during Friday’s practice — the speed is there and Honda won last year with Alexander Rossi, a rookie who coasted across the finish line on fumes.Rossi is part of the massive effort from Andretti Autosport, which expanded to six cars when it took on Alonso last month. Most teams might have flinched at taking on such a heavy workload for the biggest race of the year, but the Andretti camp did not back down.“It has to make sense from a business standpoint,” said Marco Andretti, son of the team owner and a driver eager to win his first Indy 500. “At first I was like, ‘Man, six cars?’ Then I found out who it was, and I was like, ‘Well, we have to do that.’ It’s a lot for the team. But it’s all good things, man. It’s good for the sport.”There has certainly been a buzz around the Brickyard for Alonso, and worldwide television ratings should get a significant boost. IndyCar drivers are smart enough to understand that Alonso is good for all of them now.With no clear favorite, questions about Honda’s reliability, Penske’s power and Alonso’s lack of experience in this race, there could be a surprise winner in a race Roger Penske believes could be even more exciting than last year’s historic 100th running. More...
  6. Cavaliers have underdog role and Draymond Greens goal of annihilation if they need motivation against WarriorsSun, 28 May 2017 03:20:28 +0000
    INDEPENDENCE: Las Vegas doesn’t like them. Draymond Green doesn’t like them.But with the Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors meeting in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year starting Thursday, it was hard to tell if the defending champion Cavs will draw on their role as underdogs for motivation.“The whole underdog thing is funny to me because, yeah, at the end of the day, we are defending our title,” Kevin Love said Saturday. “We’re trying to repeat, which is so hard to do. I think we will use it as fuel, we will use it as motivation, but the idea of playing into it? It’s tough for me to say that is the case.“I don’t feel like we’re underdogs. We match up well with them, and I think they’d say the same about us.”Minutes before, Love downplayed the odds as a factor.“We’re always on our phones, [so] it’s hard not to see it. You have friends or family members, they don’t know what to text you at certain times,” Love said after practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “You see it, you hear it, but the underdog thing, we don’t really pay attention to that.”The website fivethirtyeight.com, which analyzes sports leagues and political races, gives the Cavs between a 10 percent (using advanced algorithms) and 13 percent (simple algorithms) chance to win the title.The site said bookmakers are more generous, with the Cavs given a 30 percent chance. This season the Warriors added 2013-14 MVP Kevin Durant to a lineup that already featured two-time MVP Stephen Curry and fellow all-stars Klay Thompson and Green.The Warriors won the 2015 title at Quicken Loans Arena, while the Cavs rallied from a 3-1 deficit to capture Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years last June at Oracle Arena.Love didn’t deny that the Cavs use bulletin-board material, but made it sound like they judiciously choose their perceived slights.“Sure, you use different things as fuel and motivation,” Love said. “But in some ways, it almost has to be the right thing, I guess, because so much is just kind of fluff and stupid, for lack of a better word. I think both teams will have a lot to prove and it’s going to be a really hard-fought, great matchup.”Love wasn’t referring to anyone specifically, although there was much to draw from in last year’s NBA Finals. In Game 4, Green punched LeBron James in the groin, drawing a suspension for Game 5, and James disrespectfully stepped over him. Thompson suggested the incident stemmed from the fact that James got his feelings hurt by Green’s trash talking.Green has been gunning for the Cavs since Oct. 31. That’s when he told David Aldridge of NBA.com, “If Cleveland comes out of the East, I want to destroy Cleveland … If and when we get to that point, I want to annihilate them.”“He’s one of the most competitive players in the league and he kind of spoke this into existence,” Love said of Green’s comments last fall. “He’s a guy who said he wanted us, and he has us starting next Thursday. He’s a guy who brings it every single night, so now with the way the Finals went down last year if I were in his shoes, I would want the same thing.”Love said he believes his teammates are well aware of Green’s remarks.“They probably already have seen it and heard it before. I think he said it earlier this season though, right?” Love said. “It’s going to be a great series and I think Draymond is speaking out of emotion, excited. He’s a competitor. You beat a team, they definitely want you back. I like guys like that. Tough and speaks out, says what he really wants.”Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Saturday the Cavs won’t go to the under­dog card for motivation.“We’re in the NBA Finals. That’s enough motivation alone,” Lue said. “Not worry about what it says in Vegas or what people are saying about underdogs. Our goals were set at the beginning of the season, and that’s to win a championship. So that’s what we’re focused on.”After the Cavs captured the Eastern Conference title Thursday in Boston, forward Richard Jefferson said “barring injury or something cataclysmic,” the Cavs expected to meet the Warriors in the Finals.“But none of that matters if you don’t take care of your business,” Jefferson said. “They did a great job, they’re 12-0, we’re 11-1 with a [21]-point lead at home. We understand it’s going to be two titans meeting.”When it was suggested that the Cavs had been thinking of this matchup for quite some time, Love said, “We’re not the only ones. I think everybody wanted it or thought it was going to come to this point. We felt if we played great basketball through this time, which we knew we were capable of, that was very probable and highly likely. Two great teams playing great basketball right now. There’s not much more you could ask for.”Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read her blog at www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ. More...
  7. NBA Finals: Former Warriors coach Don Nelson favored Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in 2007 draftSun, 28 May 2017 03:15:50 +0000
    OAKLAND, Calif.: Truth be told, the Golden State Warriors’ former coach wasn’t sure they needed Kevin Durant.The Warriors were already small-ball sensations, capable of piling up the points with their daring drives and sizzling shooting. So rather than add another scorer, Don Nelson figured the Warriors might be better off getting a dominant man in the middle to shore up the defense in the 2007 NBA Draft.Nelson thought the Warriors needed Greg Oden.That was 10 years ago, leading up to the heavily hyped draft in which the Oden-Durant debate raged throughout basketball. And now, as Durant leads the league’s most potent team into the NBA Finals while Oden is long gone from the NBA spotlight, it’s easy to forget that a lot of people agreed with Nelson.“I think everyone felt that there were two players there that were going to be prominent players, but one thing you can’t count on is injuries,” Warriors executive Jerry West said. “So Greg really never had a chance to have a career, where Kevin’s obviously been more than advertised.”The Warriors were looking like a lottery team in March 2007 when Nelson was asked what he thought they should do if they got the No. 1 pick. He’s one of the innovators of small ball, a coach who seemed more comfortable with a point forward than a power forward, so it wouldn’t have been surprising if he leaned toward Durant.But he favored Oden, a 7-footer who in his lone season at Ohio State was drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer Bill Russell, Nelson’s teammate in Boston.“I think it’d be pretty simple for us,” Nelson said. “We would probably have to go with the bigger guy at this point.”Nelson said he might reconsider if he thought Durant was going to be a superstar, and the forward looked like one as he tore through the Big 12 as a freshman at Texas. But with the Warriors already having Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson, Nelson saw other needs.“With this team, the center position is one that we’re looking for,” he said. “But I’d say anybody up front. Our backcourt’s pretty solid.”The Warriors were fined by the NBA for Nelson’s comments about players who weren’t yet draft eligible. Boston, San Antonio and New Orleans also would be penalized that spring when normally button-lipped coaches couldn’t help themselves when thinking about the promise of the two freshmen.“I don’t think there could have been any more hype than there was,” Memphis guard Mike Conley said. “It was an amazing time to see two great players who have Hall of Fame potential from the beginning. You just know that they could come in and win multiple championships and be All-Stars every year and you don’t have that in every draft.”The No. 1 pick became a moot point when the Warriors finished the regular season with a 16-5 kick to secure the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, then pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in NBA playoff history when they ousted the 67-win Dallas Mavericks in the first round.Later that postseason, the Portland Trail Blazers won the draft lottery and the Seattle SuperSonics were second. The Grizzlies had the league’s worst record and the best odds at the No. 1 pick but fell to fourth as West, then the Grizzlies’ president of basketball operations, was left livid with the process.Had he been given the chance, West said he would have taken the best player available, which is always his strategy. He said he considered Durant that player. Many mock drafts had it the other way, given Oden’s potential — he likely would’ve been the top pick a year earlier out of high school, but the 2006 draft was the first with the NBA’s age requirement.“Everyone is always looking for someone big in the draft because everyone thinks it’s a game-changer. Well, the game has changed,” West said. “Now, they’re not naming big guys unless you’re really versatile. There are very few back-to-the basket centers in the league that are not versatile enough to go out and play on the court.” More...
  8. Cavaliers notebook: Cavs coach Tyronn Lue ready to settle long-standing bet with Warriors coach Mike Brown, but Brown wont take the moneySun, 28 May 2017 03:15:43 +0000
    INDEPENDENCE: Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue might have three words to say to his counterpart, Mike Brown of the Golden State Warriors, when they see one another before the start of the NBA Finals on Thursday.Here’s the cash.“Mike, I owe him $100 from when I was a rookie,” Lue said Saturday afternoon at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “That’s all I ever know about Mike. I tried to pay him and he wouldn’t take the money so he says I always owe him. He’s always been a great guy.”So what happened exactly for an NBA assistant coach to get a heads-up on a young player?“Yeah, he was with the Spurs and I was with the Lakers and we had a little shooting contest and I lost,” Lue said. “He wouldn’t take the money so from now on 19 years in a row he always says, ‘You owe me $100.’ He won’t take the money.”The bet involved Lue’s ability to shoot and the Cavs coach was clear Brown didn’t beat him in a shooting contest.“He didn’t beat me,” he said. “I just missed some shots. He didn’t outshoot me, no.”The timing of the shooting contest might be a little foggy in Lue’s memory. Lue was a rookie with the Lakers in the 1998-99 season and Brown was beginning his professional career with the Washington Wizards.Brown said he hasn’t forgotten about the wager, though. “I’m glad he finally admitted that he owes me money because for many years he wouldn’t admit that he owed me money,” Brown said of Lue after the Warriors finished practice on Saturday. “He does owe me $100, and since he got his new deal hopefully he can afford to pay me now. I asked him many time for it but he’s denied it. He’s denied that the game ever took place.”Brown said he’s glad Lue is finally prepared to pay off his debt.“I think what it has to do with, it has to do with the fact he’s got a nice, long, fat contract with the Cavs and he realizes that he can finally afford to pay me the money that he owes me for the shooting game back in 2000 or whenever it was,” Brown said with a grin.Brown said he doesn’t remember any other details about the wager.“I don’t even remember,” he said. “That was back when I was in shape and a good shooter. He’d kill me now.”Friendly wager aside, mutual respect remains.“[I’ve] always been close to Mike and I like Mike a lot, respect him a lot, had a chance to work his son [Elijah] out a lot at Impact in [Las] Vegas over the summer, so Mike is a good guy and I like and respect him a lot,” Lue said.And the job Brown is doing with the Warriors as their acting coach with Steve Kerr sidelined for health reasons?“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” Lue said, “but I know he’s doing a great job.”Enjoying the rideThe two newest members of the Cavs came to Cleveland well after the season began with one goal — to collect a ring.Veterans Deron Williams (12 years), who came from the Dallas Mavericks, and Kyle Kor­ver (14 years), who arrived in a trade from the Atlanta Hawks, have never played in the NBA Finals, and Lue is happy to see them finally reach that goal.“It’s good to see great players like that and players who have been around the league for a long time get a chance to go to the Finals and actually come to our team and want to be a part of it,” Lue said. “And we make it for those guys. So I’m excited they’re going to be there, and you can see those guys being veterans and understanding the game, what we need from those guys and hopefully it shows in the Finals.”Teammate Richard Jefferson offered some advice. Family and friends, he suggested, should be kept at a distance so the players can focus.“You’ve worked 14 years and people have supported you so, yes, come to the game,” he said after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. “But as far as having 10 people in your house, this is a one time when I would tell any human being to be as selfish as you possibly can be …”George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ. More...
  9. Indians notebook: Indians unveil Frank Robinson statue; Corey Kluber could return to rotation on ThursdaySun, 28 May 2017 03:15:31 +0000
    CLEVELAND: The Indians on Saturday celebrated Frank Robinson’s contributions to the game of baseball and unveiled a statue in his honor in the middle of Heritage Park.Robinson became the first African-American manager in the major leagues as a player-manager with the Indians in 1975. He also had a hall-of-fame career as a player, winning two MVPs, a Triple Crown and belting 586 home runs.But it was his role in integrating and bettering the culture of the game that stands as Robinson’s lasting impact on baseball.“Today is extra special because of the social significance, commemorating the role the game of baseball and one of its all-time greats played in affecting social change in our country,” Indians owner Paul Dolan said. “We welcome Frank Robinson and his family and all the special guests who are here with us today.”In attendance were many of baseball’s pioneers and all-time greats, including Hank Aaron. Jackie Robinson’s daughter, Sharon, was also in attendance.“Thank you to the Cleveland Indians, this city, the fans of the Indians, and to the Dolan family,” Robinson said. “It is a great day here. I didn’t think I would see this day, but it is wonderful to be here.”Robinson also joked that the statue looked good, despite what he gave the sculptor to work with.“It’s a great piece of artwork. I don’t know how you were able to do it with what you had to work with,” Robinson said. “Thank you very much for making me look good. I appreciate this day and I’ll enjoy it for the rest of my life. Thank you.”Coming attractionIndians ace Corey Kluber is close to returning to the starting rotation as he rehabs from a strained lower back.Kluber threw 47 pitches in a rehab assignment for the RubberDucks on Friday night and was so efficient he needed to finish his outing in the bullpen. He reported normal post-start soreness on Saturday, a positive sign that the back issue that has plagued him for most of the regular season should be behind him.The club has yet to finalize the plan but Indians manager Terry Francona said Kluber’s next start will be with the Indians and will most likely come on Thursday against the Oakland Athletics.“We have so many days off coming off after that point that I’d like to sit with [pitching coach Mickey Callaway] and the other guys and kind of map out what’s in our best interest, putting some parameters in place like just who we’re playing, the days off, all those things,” Francona said. “We haven’t fit all those things together yet, but he will pitch for us.”Kluber has dealt with back stiffness since at least his second start of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched through the discomfort until it became too much to handle in a start in the cold against Detroit earlier this month. For Kluber, he began to walk the line between playing through the pain and trying to push something to the point of possibly hurting the club, not to mention himself.“I think that’s obviously the point we got to,” Kluber said. “We tried for a while to kind of manage it and figure out ways to still be able to go out there and pitch and stuff. It kind of just got the point where, little by little, it got worse. It kind of got to the point where I wasn’t doing myself any favors, I wasn’t doing the team any favors by kind of guessing every time out how it was going to react.”When Francona took Kluber out in Detroit, he knew something was off.“When he came off the field in Detroit, when Mickey made that trip to the mound, he came off and he said, ‘This isn’t good,’ ” Francona said. “So when he came off the field, I went down into the tunnel with him and I could tell. It had just gotten to the point that something needed to be done.”Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ. More...
  10. Baysox 7, RubberDucks 2: Ducks fall behind early, see winning streak snapped at fiveSun, 28 May 2017 03:15:20 +0000
    The downside of good things is eventually they all go sour.On Saturday, things never really got going for the RubberDucks at Canal Park and it led to a 7-2 loss to the Bowie Baysox in front of a crowd of 6,460.The Ducks (22-22), came in riding a five-game winning streak, found themselves down 4-1 after four innings.RubberDucks pitchers had surfed the crest of 22⅓ innings without allowing a run. That ended in the first inning on a two-run home run by D.J. Stewart.“They played better today,” Ducks manager Mark Budzinski said of the Baysox. “They’re leading the league in hitting, and they showed why today.”Nick Pasquale (3-4, 4.25) had a bad outing for the second consecutive time, which has been very rare for the right-hander this season.After giving up five runs — three earned — in four innings of a 5-2 loss to the Hartford Yard Goats, the 26-year-old was looking to bounce back.It didn’t happen as the Baysox (25-24) jumped on him and really never let off the gas.Bowie punched Pasquale for nine hits and seven runs — all earned — in five innings.Pasquale was able to record six strikeouts, but timely hitting did him in.It was the worst outing of the year for the 20th-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, who hadn’t given up more than four earned runs or six hits in any outing before Saturday.“The last two outings he just hasn’t had good command of his fastball,” Budzinski said. “When he’s thrown his breaking ball, he’s left it up in the zone. He’s working hard. He’ll get back on track.”Bobby Bradley and Mark Mathias put the Ducks on the board with RBI singles in the first and sixth, respectively, but other than that clutch hitting wasn’t on the resume as the Ducks left 12 on base.“They did a good job of making the pitches when they had to make them,” Budzinski said. “We didn’t get those timely hits. That’s what happens when you don’t win the ballgame. You have to deliver in those situations.”If there were bright spots, they came from Francisco Mejia and Perci Garner.Mejia went 4-for-4 and is batting .500 (12-for-24) with two home runs and five RBI since coming off the disabled list on May 19. He has hit safely in seven consecutive games.Garner, a Dover High School graduate and former Indians reliever, has worked through command issues this season, but made his 2017 debut and looked solid.The 28-year-old gave the RubberDucks two innings of one-hit ball and added a strikeout.“It felt good to be in a real game,” Garner said. “I was just glad to throw strikes and compete. My focus mentally has changed a little bit. Obviously, after last year my confidence has grown. I’m just trying to carry that on season after season.”Roster moveRight-handed pitcher Neil Holland (2.0, 2.61) has been promoted to Triple A Columbus. He has three saves in nine appearances for the Ducks and will be making his third trip to the Clippers this season.Up nextGame 3 of the four-game series begins Sunday at 6:35 p.m. Ducks southpaw Luis Lugo (3-1, 2.95) faces lefty Tanner Scott (0-0, 2.00). More...
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