MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level

“There’s a variety of changes that can be undertaken,” Manfred said. “I’m committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private.”

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level — at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play — they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings.

The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. MLB approved that change to the intentional walk rule, from the traditional four-pitch walk to a dugout signal, team and union sources told ESPN’s Howard Bryant on Tuesday night.

Cousins’ dilemma isn’t limited to just the NBA. The NFL is littered with stars in need of a fresh landscape where their talents won’t be squandered. Joe Thomas is a nine-time All-Pro who has averaged fewer than five wins a season languishing in Cleveland.
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They aren’t the only players who need new homes. Here’s a list of players who could be hypothetically set for the Boogie treatment this offseason, what the lowest possible return for them could be, and where we’d like them to end up.
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Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald to the New England Patriots in exchange for a sixth-round pick

Tom Brady has played with some good wide receivers in his storied career, but only one elite one — Randy Moss. While Fitzgerald is nearing the end of his rope as a pro, he’d still give the Patriots a premier weapon at a position of need for 2017. With Danny Amendola a candidate to be cut and Michael Floyd a free agent, New England could trot out a three-receiver starting lineup featuring Fitzgerald, Julian Edelman, and either Chris Hogan or 2016 draft pick Malcolm Mitchell.

Amari Cooper might be too good at what he does

In this column I will take a closer look at Amari Cooper, wide receiver out of the University of Alabama. For the purposes of this breakdown I used the guys at Draft Breakdown again to watch Cooper play against West Virginia, Florida, Mississippi State, Auburn and Ohio State. Those represented the first, fourth, 10th, 12th and 14th games of Alabama’s season.

If I were a head coach I would have Amari Cooper on my team right now — today!

This kid is a bona fide play maker. Sixteen touchdowns, are you kidding me? Shit, he caught nine touchdowns just in those five games I watched. Oh, and he didn’t have any in the West Virginia game.

He has good size at 6’1, 210 pounds. The overall numbers of running backs taken indicates as much. Since 2000, an average of 23 running backs get taken in the draft. In 2014, the total number of running backs picked was 22. In 2013, it was 26. Still, however, no first-round picks at the position. Gordon thinks one reason is because the NFL is now a more pass-heavy league. He has another theory, though.
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“Maybe (teams) just thought the running backs the past couple years aren’t first round talent,” Gordon said. “I don’t know. We just have to change that this year and show people we can go in the first round.”

He catches the ball with his hands, always a plus for me.

He’s a very good route runner.

Cooper has a great feel for how to find the holes in zone coverage, and he gets off press coverage easily and consistently at the line of scrimmage.

He has shown the ability to get deep in a hurry.

Audie Cole Limited Jersey Also, the ability to go up and catch the ever popular back shoulder fade even when the pass is well contested.

The Cardinals have been able to lord their success over the archrival Cubs for decades

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If all of this in total still sounds like a net run differential loss because of Ortiz’s absence, let’s not forget the biggest reason to think the Red Sox will again be one of the best offensive teams in baseball. That is, the tender ages of Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and the just-hitting-his-prime Jackie Bradley Jr. They’ll be joined by rookie Andrew Benintendi, who got his feet wet in the majors last season and enters the season as Keith Law’s top-ranked overall prospect.

St. Louis Cardinals: On the other foot.

Josh Harding Authentic Jersey The Cardinals have been able to lord their success over the archrival Cubs for decades. For now, the shoe is on the other foot.

After three straight NL Central titles, the Cardinals fell to second last season, 17? games behind the history-shattering Cubs, and missed the postseason for just the fourth time since 2000. St. Louis won 86 games last season, and, in three of those non-playoff seasons, they’ve won at least 85. The Cubs don’t look like they’re going anywhere, but history strongly suggests that the Cardinals won’t be either.

Most of all, however, they have Kershaw. Maybe this will be the year he records the final out of the season.

Then again, maybe none of those can stop the team that’s on top right now. Maybe the next chapter simply picks up from Nov. 2, 2016: a Cubs dynasty.

Theo Epstein didn’t set out to build one 100-win club. He wants to win 100 every season. Everything you have seen and read this offseason from the players seems to suggest that they want this burden of greatness, that one championship won’t be enough.

All the significant players are back, except for center fielder Dexter Fowler and closer Aroldis Chapman. Bryant and Rizzo are two of the best players in the game; Russell is just turning 23, and Baez is turning 24. They’ll have Kyle Schwarber for the whole season, and his World Series performance might simply be a prelude to him becoming one of the faces of baseball. This is a lineup young enough to remain together for several more years, an almost impossible feat to keep going in the free-agency era. That’s how you build a dynasty.

Mel Kiper’s 2nd NFL mock draft has no DeShone Kizer in the 1st round

ESPN’s Mel Kiper released his second mock draft on Wednesday, and he is projecting most of the teams at the top of the draft — even the ones that need quarterbacks — to focus on defense. This may be part of the reason that DeShone Kizer was left out of the first round entirely.

An exception is the San Francisco 49ers. Kiper projects that the Niners will select Mitch Trubisky out of North Carolina with the second overall pick. Trubisky is a good fit with new head coach Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, so the pick makes sense.

Our Dan Kadar at Mocking the Draft agrees with Kiper, and in his latest mock he has Trubisky headed to San Francisco. Still, the Niners have a lot of glaring needs, and Kiper notes that San Francisco could trade back in the first round to get more picks.

Ojeleye’s counterpart in the backcourt is Shake Milton, a 6’6 point guard who is coming into his own in his sophomore season. Milton would be playing off-ball on most teams because of his spot-up shooting ability (42 percent from three) and capacity to get buckets in a pinch, but playing him at point guard has unlocked SMU on both ends. He’s grown into the position this year, posting an impressive 24 percent assist rate while using his length to give opposing point guards trouble on the other end.

The second group of players to hit the field will be composed of quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends. Defensive linemen and linebackers compose the third group, while defensive backs — the last group — will take the field on the final day (Monday, March 6).

Odell Beckham Jr. has 35 touchdowns in his first three seasons.

Try to re-sign Johnathan Hankins. As tempting as it might be to go after Jason Pierre-Paul, who looked like his old self during the second half of the 2016 season, JPP has been inconsistent and has injury issues even independent of his fireworks incident, including a back ailment that required surgery in 2013. Hankins, 24, is younger and wildly underrated, particularly as an interior penetrator. He knocked down opposing quarterbacks 10 times in 2016 and had a seven-sack season as recently as 2014. Hankins is a better bet to age well over his next deal than Pierre-Paul.

If the Giants insist on retaining JPP, they might want to franchise him as a way to reduce his leverage and try to create a more feasible environment for a multiyear extension. The franchise tag for defensive ends should come in around $17 million in 2017, which would be a lot to pay for a guy who had 5.5 of his seven sacks against the Bears and Browns last season.

Limited Kids Brandon Moss Jersey General manager Jerry Reese probably doesn’t want to pay Pierre-Paul that much on a one-year deal, but it’s more palatable than committing to Pierre-Paul over three guaranteed years, which is what he could hope to command on the free market. A deal with two mostly guaranteed seasons as part of a multiyear pact would be a reasonable compromise.

Consider the 2016 roster: According to ESPN Stats and Information, as of Jan. 30, the Bengals had 43 drafted players on their roster and an additional 15 who had been signed as an undrafted free agent out of college (the most notable of those being Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict).
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Only nine players on the roster were signed as free agents, the most notable of those being linebacker Karlos Dansby and receiver Brandon LaFell.

The Islanders have put their trust in goaltender Thomas Greiss with 3-year contract extension

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The New York Islanders seem to have put their full trust in goaltender Thomas Greiss, as on Monday evening it was announced that the 31-year-old has signed a three-year contract extension.

Game Mens Ty Lawson Jersey Greiss is coming to the end of his two-year, $3 million deal signed in 2015 when he was brought in to back up Jaroslav Halak. The new contract extension is a $10 million, three-year deal that will give Greiss a $3.33 million average annual salary over the next few years, according to CapFriendly.

This news comes one month to the day after the Islanders waived Halak, their starting goaltender for the past few seasons. Halak, however, was prone to injury and Greiss opened the door for himself after posting a .925 save percentage in 41 games in relief last season.

That effectively put an end to the Islanders¡¯ three-goaltender rotation experiment over the last two years, made of Halak, Greiss, and waiver pickup Jean-Francois Berube. Thanks to injuries and a strange sense of loyalty, the Islanders held on to all three goaltenders on the roster at the expense of others. Now, however, the problem seems to have shifted to their minor league affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who carry four goaltenders on their active roster.

Greiss has bounced around the league in his eight-year NHL career, with the Islanders being his fourth team. This is the first time, though, that Greiss will assume the role of a team¡¯s starter. Berube will now back up Greiss, as the Islanders are finally free of their three-goaltender rotation.

In his eight-year career, Greiss holds a .919 save percentage. So far through 25 games this season, Greiss has improved to a career-high .928 save percentage.

Cousins has learned how to minimize hits inside and outside the pocket

BiPro, which makes Brady’s protein powder, sells a pound of its own Whey Protein for $36, while Brady’s retails for $54.

Then there’s the question about what type of role model Brady is himself and whether the man behind his routines is even credible.
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His personal chef, Allan Campbell, told The Boston Globe that the quarterback only eats organic, eats no white sugar or white flour, has no coffee, caffeine or dairy, and doesn’t eat tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms or eggplants. He also doesn’t eat fruit.

New York-based registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus recently told the New York Post that many of Brady’s reasons for avoiding these foods are “sketchy” and some claims made by Campbell have been debunked.

Like Brees and Manning, Cousins has learned how to minimize hits inside and outside the pocket. He ranked No. 6 in the NFL in contact rate (7.6 percent). In his two years as the Redskins’ starter, he ranks No. 7 (7.2 percent) in that category.

New England Patriots running back James White can’t tell you what happened to the football from the final play of Super Bowl LI.

But it’s also possible to argue that Johnson ranked among the best during his prime. He led the AFC in receiving yards from 2003-06, joining Jerry Rice as the only receiver to lead his conference in receiving yards for four consecutive seasons.

He also played in and year out against some of the best defenses in the league. Johnson faced the Steelers and the Ravens twice a year for almost his entire career. With the exception of the 2002 season, both teams were ranked top 10 in total defense from 2001-10. Twice, they were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the same season.

Game Womens K.J. Wright Jersey However, Johnson struggled once he left the Bengals system, catching only 15 passes for 276 yards and one touchdowns with the Patriots in 2011, the final season of his career.

Landry Jones is the team’s only draft pick at quarterback in the last eight years

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Elite Cam Johnson Jersey The Pittsburgh Steelers were destined to arrive at this point, with a star quarterback weighing football immortality and minimal resources behind him.

The presence of Ben Roethlisberger allowed the Steelers to go heavy on defense in the last few drfats. And with Roethlisberger publicly evaluating his shelf life, the Steelers are left with a nearly rebuilt defense but journeyman Zach Mettenberger as the only backup quarterback under contract for 2017.

Landry Jones is the team’s only draft pick at quarterback in the last eight years, and the impending free agent is hardly a guarantee to return.

That leaves the Steelers possibly grasping for their own Dak Prescott, a prospect they dined with during the 2016 draft process.

Asked about a succession plan for Roethlisberger , team president Art Rooney II said quarterback depth will be crucial.

“Truth be told, we were probably a little thinner at that this year than we might have liked,” Rooney said. “And so, I think it is something we¡¯ve got to look at this offseason in terms of — even if Ben never said what he said, I think it¡¯s something we¡¯d be looking at anyway. So I haven¡¯t spent a lot of time talking about it yet with Kevin [Colbert], and I¡¯m sure he¡¯s going to be working on looking at what¡¯s available this offseason. So it¡¯s something we probably have to address.”

There was some public resistance to the Falcons selecting the safety Neal with the 17th overall pick, but the selection certainly worked out rather well as Neal developed into a hard-hitting enforcer and major contributor to a much-improved unit.

Was this the best effort Berdych has seen from Federer in their 23 matches?

A native of India in his 30s, he posts on YouTube under the name HonorTheCall, but he was inconsequential compared with Cassell or Martin. He had barely 1,500 followers. But he’d been tracking a rash of recent reports — including a widely read one on Bloomberg.com — that detailed the growth of skins gambling as well as scandals involving celebrity gamers who’d promoted sites without acknowledging secret payments.

A regular visitor to Martin’s YouTube channel, HonorTheCall noticed that Martin had been spending a lot of time hawking CSGO Lotto. In light of the news reports he had just read, he decided to look more closely into the new site on the scene. After a few keystrokes, he stumbled onto his own jackpot: Incorporation records online showed that Martin and Cassell were the owners of the Orlando-based site. “I just sat there, staring at the screen,” he says.

That night he made a video laying out his findings. He accused the high-profile YouTubers of peddling gambling to children and ended with an impassioned plea: “These kids, man, they look up to you. They think if their idols can make $13,000 in five minutes, they can too. But we all know that’s not true. … Let these kids go to school, man.”

Friday night at Rod Laver Arena provided the first batch of meaningful evidence, and it sure looked definitive. Federer thoroughly ruined No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

“Bordering on vintage Federer,” said John McEnroe, an analyst on the ESPN broadcast. “He’s making Berdych look small. Could he rise to the occasion, we were asking? So far, so good.”

And considering how early Federer finds himself in his comeback curve, that is a fair assessment. We will leave the hysteria and the hyperbole, for the time being anyway, to others.

Was this the best effort Berdych has seen from Federer in their 23 matches?

Ken Stabler passes away at 69

Alabama football and Oakland Raiders great Ken Stabler died at 69 years old on Wednesday. Stabler’s family confirmed the news Thursday evening. Stabler died of colon cancer.

A statement from the family described Stabler as “a kind, generous and unselfish man, never turning down an autograph request or an opportunity to help someone in need. A great quarterback, he was an even greater father to his three girls and grandfather to his two ‘grand snakes.'”

Raiders owner Mark Davis released a statement on behalf of Oakland.
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“The Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Stabler,” Davis said. “He was a cherished member of the Raider family and personified what it means to be a Raider. He wore the Silver and Black with Pride and Poise and will continue to live in the hearts of Raider fans everywhere. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to Kenny’s family.”

“He set coaching back 50 years,” Casper was quoted as saying by Paul Zimmerman in “The New Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football” (1984).

“He knows everything there is to know on a football field, but when they give him his game plan on Wednesday he probably takes it and throws it in the wastebasket. No one ever suspected how little he knew about the game plan on a particular week.
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“I don’t think he ever cared about losing. Winning is fine. Losing? So what? He’d rather win the gamble and force a pass in there. He’d rather do it the hard way.”
Stabler was involved in some of the biggest plays in football history.

Though initially on the practice squad, he was signed to active roster in January 2010 and would soon become the Steelers go-to goal-line back. During the 2010 season, he played a pivotal role in the Steelers 13-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.