SBO REPORT:Conor McGregor backs up his words, takes big step toward UFC stardom

SBO REPORT:Conor McGregor backs up his words, takes big step toward UFC stardom

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The one commodity a fight  sbo  promotion can never have enough of is stars.

After a devastating performance in stopping Diego Brandao at The O2 arena in Dublin on Saturday, it appears Conor McGregor could become the UFC’s next big star.

The audacious featherweight sold out The O2 in just three minutes, and the fans who filled the building cheered from start to finish like giddy school kids. The atmosphere was one of the greatest ever at a UFC fight.

There should be little doubt now that McGregor is a star of the highest order in his native Ireland, the United Kingdom and throughout Western Europe.

He’s already one of the best promoters in the UFC and should get better at that with more experience. There remains a question of whether he’s as good of a  sbo  fighter as he says he is – before the fight, he repeatedly said he’d win the featherweight title before the end of 2014, a feat that seems impossible at this stage – but he took a big step toward answering that by bludgeoning Brandao.

McGregor took his share of shots from Brandao in the opening moments of the bout, but he simply walked through them and they had no discernible impact.

Such was not the case when McGregor connected with Brandao. As soon as McGregor started to connect, Brandao shoved it into reverse and seemed to be looking for a safe place to hide. McGregor cracked him with a left near the cage and Brandao backed away, and McGregor was ready for the finish.

And as any good finisher  sbo  would do, McGregor put Brandao away with ground-and-pound strikes at 4:05 of the first.

Immediately, he spoke of fighting next in a soccer stadium, where he could draw as many as 80,000. UFC president Dana White put a damper on that just about every time he heard it, because of the unpredictability of the weather. But McGregor, never one to be denied, wouldn’t give up and said he’d take his case to UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.

“Look, what’s next for me is that I’m going to go backstage, sit down with Mr. Lorenzo Fertitta, drink some fine-ass whiskey and talk about football stadiums,” McGregor said in the middle of the cage with cheers raining down upon him.

McGregor is now 3-0 in the UFC and while he’s defeated three solid fighters – Marcus Brimage, Max Holloway and now Brandao – none of the three has   sbo ever been, or probably ever will be, in the title picture. If that’s where McGregor is going to be, and be 100 percent certain that’s what he is planning, he needs to step up the competition level significantly.

McGregor also must prove that his appeal extends beyond Western Europe. There’s little doubt he’d be a massive hit in Boston, and he’d be a popular draw in metropolitan New York (or in New York proper if the politicians there weren’t brain dead) and perhaps even Chicago.

He must show that he can take his act on the road and fill up arenas and sell pay-per-views in order to get true star status.

He’s on his way, and he’s doing all the right things.

He’s not ready to be the champion at this point, and perhaps he’s not even ready for the likes of top contenders  sbo  like Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson.

But he shows all the signs of going down that path. Now, it’s a matter of challenging him against a tried-and-true top-10 featherweight.

Give him plenty of credit, because he talked unbelievvably heavy trash and set himself up for plenty of scorn and ridicule had he lost or been knocked out. But he put the burden on his back, said, “I’m the man,” and then went out there and fought exactly like he was.

There is still much for him to prove, but he aced this test  sbo  easily.

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SBO REPORT:LeBron James tops Harris most popular male athlete poll for first time

SBO REPORT:LeBron James tops Harris most popular male athlete poll for first time

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In the four years since “The Decision,” LeBron  sbobet James has gone from a widely despised figure to the global icon he professed he wanted to be. There are many reasons for this development — genuine maturity in several areas, two NBA championships, and the basic passage of time figure prominently — but the end result is that he’s one of the more popular figures in American sports. So much so that, when he rejoined the Cleveland Cavaliers last Friday, he was greeted with no small amount of praise and even pleasant comments from the team he left behind.

Until now, though, we have not had a representative sample of Americans tell us exactly where LeBron ranks  sbobet  among other athletes of his gender. Thanks to Harris Interactive, we now have the answer. From Darren Rovell for ESPN.com:
It’s unclear if Friday’s announcement would have had any effect on the results beyond changing most of the results from Florida and Ohio, but it’s safe to assume it would not have had an overwhelmingly negative effect overall. While there are still a decent amount of people who don’t like the guy, the fact is that LeBron is a really popular athlete, enough so that he has been able to win over an older generation that grew up on   sbobet different types of athlete behavior and loftier championship expectations. Either that or they just wanted to get off the phone quickly and named the first athlete who came to mind. It was around the time of the NBA Finals, after all.

Apart from LeBron’s status, the most interesting aspect of the poll is the persistent popularity of Jordan, who is much more of a businessman and brand than an athlete at this point in his life. He had such a major impact on an entire generation of sports fans, though, that he still ranks very high. It wouldn’t be surprising if some of the younger respondents to the poll put Jordan near the top even if they’d never seen him play. His sneakers, highlights,   sbobet and reputation are mainstays of the culture.

We must ask two questions, then. First, how long will LeBron stay at the top of the list? Given that older athletes like Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning are still near the top, it figures that appearing on the list for several consecutive years is the best indicator that a player will stick around. With no up-and-comers assured of vaulting over LeBron, it’s a safe bet that he’ll be first again in 2015 unless the Cavaliers prove to be a complete disaster.

The second, ultimately more interesting question might be just how  sbobet  old the 51-year-old Jordan (or his fans) will have to get before he falls out of the top five. Based on the available evidence and the age of the poll’s respondents, it could be at least another decade.

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SBO REPORT:Giants pitcher, catcher hit matching slams

SBO REPORT:Giants pitcher, catcher hit matching slams

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Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey proved  sbo  to be a pretty grand battery for the San Francisco Giants for a couple of seasons now. But a historic one?

The Giants’ starting pitcher and his catcher on Sunday went where no other starting battery ever went previously, each clubbing a grand slam to highlight San Francisco’s 8-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park in the first-half finale for both teams.

“It’s a good way for us to go into the break,” Posey said. “Any win would’ve sufficed, really.”

As it was, the Giants put up a win that historians can note. Posey’s slam in the fourth inning erased a 1-0 deficit   sbo and was the second of his career. Bumgarner’s slam an inning later, his second of the season, made it 8-1. No other starting battery ever contributed two grand slams in the same contest.

“That’s pretty cool,” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner (10-7) recorded his first victory in four starts, but it didn’t end as well as he would have liked. Right fielder Cody Ross’s two-run home run and pinch hitter Nick Evans’ RBI double in the seventh drove Bumgarner from the contest after 6 1/3 innings. The Giants lefty was charged with 10 hits and four runs. He struck out five and didn’t issue a walk.

Vidal Nuno (0-1) lost in his second start for the Diamondbacks since being acquired from the New York Yankees for right-hander Brandon McCarthy on July 6. He held the Giants off the board through the first four innings, running his scoreless streak   sbo with Arizona to 11 innings before things fell apart.

“I wish I could take back that fifth inning,” he said.

With one out in the fifth, Bumgarner’s double was followed by an errant Nuno pitch that hit right fielder Hunter Pence. After a flyout, third baseman Pablo Sandoval then hit a shot on the ground that Arizona third baseman Martin Prado stopped, but Prado’s throw to first was wide, extending the inning.

Posey then picked on Nuno’s second pitch to put the Giants in front.

“Buster’s hit was the one I think that just kind of gave a sense of relief to the dugout,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ve been missing that hit.”

San Francisco was missing a lot of them. The Giants hadn’t scored eight runs in a contest since an 8-0 win over the   sbo St. Louis Cardinals on June 1. That contest also marked the last time San Francisco scored at least four runs in an inning.

The Giants entered the contest having been blanked five times in their previous 13 games.

Recently, the slump included Posey, who entered play Sunday in a 1-for-16 funk after a .344 run in his previous 30 contests. Posey’s slam was his first since he connected on July 7, 2010, against Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Chris Capuano.

Bumgarner put another big crooked number on the board in the sixth inning by turning on a 98 mph fastball from reliever Matt Stites and sending it into the seats down the left field line. In doing so, he joined Tony Cloninger as the only pitchers to hit two grand slams in the same season. Cloninger hit his in the same game for  sbo  the Atlanta Braves against the Giants at Candlestick Park on July 3, 1966.

First baseman Joaquin Arias’ leadoff single started the Giants’ sixth, and a walk to shortstop Brandon Crawford loaded the bases. In between, second baseman Ehire Adrianza hit a soft liner that Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed charged but couldn’t corral. Ahmed was charged with an error, and a pitch later, Bumgarner was circling the bases.

“That’s a play we should make, and we were just unable to make any pitches after that,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “We walked a guy, and then the inning blew up on us.”

Bumgarner has  sbo  clubbed three homers this season, the most by a Giants pitcher since Don Robinson hit that many in 1989. His 12 RBIs are the most by a San Francisco pitcher since Juan Marichal had 15 in 1966.

“I happened to run into one,” he said. “It might’ve been more fun if I’d been able to go out there and not give it up in the seventh.”

The victory gave the Giants just their third series win in 10 tries since June 8. It was just their 10th win in 32 games. Despite the funk, they enter the break trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by only a game in the National League West standings.

“We’re sitting in a great spot,” Posey said. “As badly as things have gone, we’re still right there. … It’s a good win for us going into the break.”

Prado hit safely for the 11th time in 12 games for Arizona, but first  sbo  baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and failed to reach base for the first time in 33 games.

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SBO REPORT:Spin Doctors: Julius Thomas vs. Rob Gronkowski vs.

SBO REPORT:Spin Doctors: Julius Thomas vs. Rob Gronkowski vs. Jordan Cameron vs. Vernon Davis

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Del Don stumps for Thomas: I’ll acknowledge  sbobet  Julius Thomas has an injury history and that Rob Gronkowski likely has more upside, but he’s safely the No. 2 tight end on my board regardless. This a raw player who has just 15 career starts in the NFL (14 coming last year) after never playing football until his fifth year in college. Despite that, he hauled in 12 TD catches last season over just 14 games, and again, there’s room for plenty of growth as Thomas continues to improve his route running.

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It’s safe to bet on Denver’s offense regressing in 2014, but Eric Decker’s departure frees up 136 targets, and one more Wes Welker concussion could end his career. The touchdown potential is   sbobet nice, but Thomas also got 8.8 YPT last season, which was more than Jimmy Graham (8.5). It sure helps having Peyton Manning throwing to him.

Gronkowski is coming off a torn ACL and has played in just 18 total games over the past two seasons (although admittedly he’s not far behind Thomas in my ranks), while Vernon Davis is 30 years old and plays on a team that threw the ball the fewest times in the NFL last season and added a bunch more weapons to compete for targets. Meanwhile, Jordan Cameron’s QB situation couldn’t be more in contrast compared to Thomas.

Thomas is an emerging talent playing in the NFL’s best offense who should see increased targets this season. I’d happily draft him in the middle of the third round of fantasy drafts.

Evans is down with Gronk: While Americans were grillin,’ chillin’ and blowing off hands during the extended holiday weekend, a simple line penned by a   sbobet New England beat-writer rocked Fantasyland:

“At this point all signs point toward Gronk being ready to go in Week 1.”

Huge.

Just a couple weeks ago indications suggested the former All-Pro tight end wouldn’t be available until October. Five months removed from reconstructive knee surgery, his eighth body fix in five years, it seemed another partial season was on the horizon. Optimism, though, is on high, an enormous shot in the arm for those willing to absorb the risk.

Because he’s missed 14 games over the past two seasons, the downside is obvious. However, cross that rickety bridge and great rewards are sure to follow. When healthy, he is arguably the finest tight end in the league. Jimmy Graham certainly has an argument, but, the numbers don’t lie. Since his breakthrough campaign in 2011, Gronk has averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game  sbobet  in standard settings. That’s an output better than Graham (12.1) and wide receiver standouts A.J. Green (12.1), Brandon Marshall (12.0) and Dez Bryant (11.9). In fact, only Calvin Johnson (15.5), the indisputable king of the receiving jungle, has outpaced Gronk in the category during that span. That’s it. When you invest in his services, you’re getting a WR1 eligible at tight end.

Without his deadliest weapon on the field last year, Tom Brady struggled mightily with a largely green group outside Julian Edelman. But the experience gained by guys like Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins should only enhance Gronk’s value. If they advance, it should only alleviate attention.

New England does like to pound near the goal-line, but Gronk will again be a focal point inside the red-zone. Recall two years ago, he was targeted 17 times inside the 20, catching eight TDs. Even 12 or 13 games from him would outproduce  sbobet  the inconsistent Vernon Davis and one-year only producer Julius Thomas, a pair he bested by a full point-per-game last fall.

Behrens is a Cameron Man: Whatever questions existed about Jordan Cameron entering last season, he answered them emphatically. He’s a star. Cameron ranked third at his position in both receptions (80) and targets (117) last year, and second in receiving yards (917). He was at his best with Brian Hoyer behind center, but he also managed to catch TD passes from a pair of sketchy quarterbacks (Weeden, Campbell) and a punter. Cameron is a hyper-athletic player, not limited in his route-running, and he’s entering a contract year. He’s also perfectly healthy at the moment, unlike Gronkowski. And to no one’s surprise, the  sbobet  offseason hype surrounding Cameron has been absolutely glowing.

Perhaps the best thing Cameron has going for him, at least from a fantasy perspective, is the fact that he’s now the unrivaled No. 1 receiver in Cleveland. Remember, the soon-to-be-suspended Josh Gordon averaged 11.4 targets per game last season. A significant share of Gordon’s looks will go to Cameron in the year ahead; he’s well-positioned to see an increase in usage, even as his team strives for greater run/pass balance. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of a shock if Cameron challenged Jimmy Graham for the position lead in total looks, finishing with something in the neighborhood of 140.

Julius Thomas is tied to a terrific passing game, true, but he’s  sbobet  also a secondary option, likely to see 25-35 fewer targets than Cameron. Vernon Davis is great, but his team ranked dead-last in the NFL in pass attempts last season – when Crabtree is in the gameplan, Vernon is a mere supporting player.

And Gronk? C’mon. He’s a sucker’s play in fantasy. When the season opens, he’ll be just eight months removed from reconstructive knee surgery (ACL/MCL). If you’re expecting an AP-like recovery, you’re banking on the unlikeliest outcome. He’s also undergone multiple arm and back surgeries in recent years, plus an ankle procedure. You simply aren’t getting the 2011 version of  sbobet  Gronk. He should not be part of this conversation. Sorry, Gronk lovers.

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SBO REPORT:Ronda Rousey Injures Hand,

SBO REPORT:Ronda Rousey Injures Hand, Announces She Needs Knee Surgery Following UFC 175

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UFC women’s bantamweight  sbo  champion Ronda Rousey extended her undefeated winning streak to 10 on Saturday with a 16-second finish of Alexis Davis, but the 27-year-old will have to address some lingering injuries before stepping back in the cage again.

She needed nine stitches to close up a laceration on her right hand following her fourth title defense.

“It turns out that from the last two camps for UFC 168 and 170 I kept ripping my knuckle open, and just covering it up and hitting on it still, all I did was make sure it didn’t get infected. I guess I ended up developing a cyst under my knuckle.   sbo After the McMann fight, I should have taken it more seriously and gone in to the doctor and had it taken out,” she said during the UFC 175 post-fight press conference.

(Watch the video here.)

“I just kind of kept dismissing it, and I ended up ripping it open with that first overhand right, and I just ended up getting nine stitches in my hand. Hopefully the cyst is actually gone, but I have to go to the doctor to get it checked out and make sure,” added Rousey.

Along with having to address her injured hand, Rousey said she needs surgery on her right knee.

“With the knee surgery, it’s just something that’s more maintenance that I need to do. So it’s not really a major knee surgery at all. It’s just a scope. I literally walk out of there and (should) be 100-percent in two weeks after that one,” she explained.

“Right hand, right knee,  sbo  but I’m left handed. So it’s all good.”

She’s had knee issues for over a decade, dating back to her teenage years.

“This has kind of been a whole life thing. I tore my ACL when I was 16. When I was doing judo, I was getting knee surgery pretty much every two years. And then when I started doing MMA, it actually healed a lot, and it hadn’t really been giving me too much trouble,” said “Rowdy.”

“When I did the Miesha (Tate) and (Sara) McMann fights back to back, I had put so much wear on it from not resting in between. With McMann, I had to do so much wrestling that my knee started to really act up. I rested after that and it started feeling better. I knew I had to get surgery, but it wasn’t really imminent. My knee is really stable. All the ligaments are fine, there’s just stuff floating around in there,” said the women’s bantamweight titleholder.

Rousey was planning to take a break following Saturday’s event  sbo  and she’ll be spending that time recovering.

“It’s just one of those things that it’s annoying,” she said. “It’s something that I need to take care of. I can’t put it off forever, and I’d rather do it now instead of risking it getting worse.”

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SBO REPORT:Packers’ McCarthy putting down roots in Titletown

SBO REPORT:Packers’ McCarthy putting down roots in Titletown

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He might be a Chicago Bears fan,  sbobet but Austin Scheutz proudly displays a Packers foam cheesehead at least once a year.

Signed by the Big Cheese himself in fact – Packers coach Mike McCarthy – while he visited a children’s hospital where the 6-year-old Scheutz was being treated for leukemia. After family and coaching, the hospital might be McCarthy’s biggest passion – even if it means running into the occasional Bears fan.

”That’s always an interesting conversation,” joked McCarthy about interactions with fans of the Packers’ bitter NFC North rival. McCarthy, of course, is dressed   sbobet in green Packers sweats after an offseason team workout.

One of the longest-tenured coaches in the NFL is entering his ninth year in Green Bay and it sure looks like home. McCarthy’s roots in blue-collar western Pennsylvania have made him a sensible fit in the Upper Midwest, shaping everything from how he runs his team to how he spends his precious free time off the field.

McCarthy’s back story is familiar now in Wisconsin. His father was a policeman and fireman. Family owned a bar near a steel mill. Worked as a highway toll collector on the graveyard shift to make money while working as a volunteer assistant at the University of Pittsburgh.

He grew up watching the Pittsburgh Steelers  sbobet  while they were coached by Chuck Noll, who died last month.

”He was someone I like to emulate. I was a big fan as a kid,” McCarthy said. ”After getting in to the coaching profession, I really appreciated him a lot more, his approach, his style, his humility. He seemed like a very consistent, tough champion.”

If that sounds like McCarthy, he would be pleased by the comparison.

The Packers have certainly been consistent under the offensive-minded McCarthy, winning a Super Bowl in 2010 behind star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The defense, on the other hand, is undergoing another tweak after an injury-filled and subpar 2013 season.

Here’s where some of that blue-collar background comes in: McCarthy harps on work ethic, the ”Packer Way.” Not just coach speak, his no-nonsense demeanor gives words more emphasis, sounding   sbobet at times as if he just came off the second shift at the mill.

”Just talking with Mike today, you sense kind of the hunger that we have, which is exciting,” Rodgers said. ”The locker room is a little louder than maybe it’s been in the last few years, and I think that’s just an influx of energy that we have.”

McCarthy said a big part of growing up in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Greenfield was learning a work ethic, ”the importance of outworking the next guy. There’s definitely a fabric of toughness.”

”I think everything you do is part of who you are and where you come from, yeah,” McCarthy said in a recent interview at Lambeau Field.

Less immediately evident is the influence it’s had on McCarthy outside of the NFL spotlight. He’s one of five siblings in an Irish Catholic family  sbobet . McCarthy has five children with his wife, Jessica, a teacher.

”She married more than a husband. She took the responsibility of this job and growing up in this town,” he said. ”I look back on it, I put so much on her plate. … She makes our family better each and every day.”

Having grown up in a city with well-known medical facilities, including a top children’s hospital, it makes sense that, McCarthy and his wife found the University of Wisconsin’s American Family Children’s Hospital to be a perfect fit as the cause for their family foundation.

It has raised about $1.5 million over the past five years for the UW hospital in Madison over the past five years, helping fund a neonatal intensive care unit and other improvements. Scheutz, who was diagnosed with  sbobet  leukemia, brought along his youth-sized cheesehead to his foundation’s recent dinner that preceded an annual golf tournament.

Austin, who is now in remission, first met McCarthy last year after the boy had relapsed, his mother, Kim, said. There’s now an exception to the anti-Packers rules in the Scheutz household.

”We’re Bears fans, so Austin has been kind of trained – every time he sees Packers stuff he goes, ‘Boo, Packers,”’ she said. ”But he loved Coach McCarthy.”

McCarthy shrugs off the praise.

”I believe in the phrase ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ When you’re a pillar in your village, you have a responsibility to make sure your village is intact,” said McCarthy, who played tight end at tiny Baker University in Kansas before beginning his three-decade climb up the coaching ranks.

Green Bay might be the smallest market in the NFL, but it’s a   sbobet hardly a village. In Wisconsin, Titletown is the capital of Packers country.

A coaching lifer, McCarthy had a stop as an assistant in 1999 with the Packers that he said helped him understand the fabric of Green Bay. Similarities to the Steelers, another marquee NFL team, were immediately evident.

He still swoons over his mother’s pierogies. Right about now, he could go for one of those Pittsburgh-style  sbobet  sandwiches stuffed with french fries.

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SBO REPORT:All-Wiener ’14: Justin Verlander heads a charred class

SBO REPORT:All-Wiener ’14: Justin Verlander heads a charred class

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Beef, pork, mechanically  sbo  separated turkey, water, corn syrup cubes, hydrolyzed beef stock, sodium phosphates, questionable “flavorings,” bat shards, broken dreams and extractives of suck — these are ingredients that comprise baseball’s biggest wieners. Just ask the poor bastard who’s choked on Justin Verlander.

Coming off savory 2013 campaigns, this year’s soured group of tubed meats were expected to exceed or at least meet last year’s totals. Acquire them, experts and seasoned owners professed in March, and investors were sure to relish consistent production. As the old saying goes, players, in terms of statistical   sbo contribution, are supposed to get plumper when you draft ‘em.

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However, these Lil Smokies have shriveled in the Crock-Pot.

Swollen strikeout rates, dramatic GB/FB shifts and pedestrian stolen base paces have charred their reputations. No amount of mustard or, for the evildoers in attendance, ketchup (Smothering a hot dog in communist sauce should be a capital offense. Ask Brandon Funston.), have masked the bitter taste. Suffice it to say, for the millions who sank their teeth into the once bun-length commodities, persistent heartburn, and 0-fers, have followed.

In honor of holiday barbecues and Joey Chestnuts everywhere, here is the Ninth Annual All-Wiener Team with an  sbo  over/under twist (Note: To weed out the injury ridden, each All-Wiener selection had to log at least 200 ABs, 75 IP) :

Catcher: Joe Mauer, Min (Preseason O-Rank: 59, Current: 281)

Over/Under: Owners shelled out big smackaroos for a top-flight BA from the career .320 hitter, but he’s fallen well short of expectations tallying a .271 mark. Rest of season average from the backstop – .2999.

Dalton – OVER. Mauer currently has a career-high 18.9 K% but also a healthy 27.9 LD%. He hasn’t hit a single pop up this season. Expecting Mauer to bat around .300 over the rest of the year seems about right.

Brandon – OVER. He’s a career .320 hitter and he’s still   sbo somewhat in his prime at 31. A little time off to rest his oblique injury will be a good way for him to hit the reset button and come back stronger in the second half.

Scott – All the bad luck indicators are flashing with Mauer’s average, so I’ll give him the OVER benefit of the doubt. But will he hit any homers? Will his run production wake up? As soon as he comes back to your roster and rings up a couple of 5-0-2-0 lines (both singles), trade him. Don’t get hung up on name brands.

First Base: Eric Hosmer, KC (66, 278)

Over/Under: For the past decade it seems, believers have predicted 20-20 numbers from the perennial talent tease, however, the still only 24-years-young “slugger” never quite measures up. This year,  sbo  with only six combined homers/steals, he’s provided little category juice. Rest of season combined HRs/SBs – 12.5.

Brandon – UNDER. He’s not only sitting on a mere four home runs but he’s failed to even collect an extra-base hit in his past 16 games. And he has just seven steals in his past 162 games played, so I’m not counting on the steals side of this O/U to carry him over the number here.

Scott – UNDER. Ground balls don’t go over the fence. And Hosmer’s fastball problem is worrisome as well – that pitch isn’t going away.

Andy – OVER. There’s no way he continues at this dreadful pace. I’m gonna say we get nine more homers and six additional steals, assuming good   sbo health. The history here suggests modest improvement.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia, Bos (29, 152)

Over/Under: Widely perceived to be a top-five pivot-man on draft day, he ranks well-outside the top-10 in value at his position, largely due to his ongoing power outage and absent steals. Rest of season rank among 2Bs – 7.5.

Scott – OVER. The average might come back nicely (and he still hits lefties well), but where’s the pop?  sbo  Where’s the willingness to run? I wonder if the hand and wrist issues from the spring are still bothering him.

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SBO REPORT:Fans lose things, get robbed amid exuberance

SBO REPORT:Fans lose things, get robbed amid exuberance

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Distracted by the World Cup  sbobet  atmosphere, American fan Jack Smith slipped his card into an ATM in a Rio airport.
Jose Mourinho’s exclusive World Cup analysis

He believes the card was cloned in an instant and, over several days before he discovered it, his account was debited for $12,000, a loss he said his bank would cover.

”I’ve probably met 60 people here, and 20 have been hit,” said Smith, of Knoxville, Tennessee. ”Of course these were for smaller amounts, although somebody told me they were out $6,000. But I’m scared. I won’t ever use an ATM machine here.”

It happened a few days ago, so Smith now laughs about it.

”Maybe this is a Brazilian tax of some kind I have to pay.”

Crime in Rio de Janeiro was on the rise in the months leading up  sbobet  to the World Cup with muggings in the famous Copacabana area rising 60 percent. Official statistics won’t be out for months, but the United States embassy, among others, warned its citizens before the World Cup about robberies on city buses, in banks and at cash machines.

Brazil has 15 of the world’s most dangerous 50 cities on a list compiled by the Mexico-based Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice. Rio state governor Luiz Fernando Pezao has characterized Rio’s crime fight as ”a war.”

”At these big events, everyone comes prepared – the criminals too,” said Jennifer McGowan, a spokeswoman for credit card company, Visa, in Sao Paulo.

The World Cup has been breathtaking on the field, but taxing off it with exhausted fans traveling across a country larger than the continental United States. Stories are easy to come by of people losing things, being robbed, and getting blinded by their exuberance.

Of course, there are  sbobet  many more football tourists for thieves to prey on.

Chile’s consulate in Rio says it issued 81 emergency travel documents in the first week of the World Cup, almost 10 times more than it issued in the same period a year ago.

Chilean Christian Alvarez said he was robbed of $1,700 at gunpoint by a gang outside his hotel that apparently followed him after he withdrew cash from ATM machine. He was hoping to buy tickets on the street, which is illegal in Brazil.

”It was a shock,” Alvarez said at the Chilean consulate. ”The consulate couldn’t give me money back, but I was able to contact my family.”

Another Chilean, Fabian Morales, lost his passport as he celebrated Chile’s 2-0 victory over defending World Cup champion Spain at Rio’s Maracana   sbobet stadium.

”Between the euphoria and the lack of sleep, I’m not very clear what happened,” Morales said.

The problems have kept consulates busy, scrambling to replace lost passports and control the damage.

Yolanda Parra, who is coordinating World Cup activities for the United States embassy’s consular service in the capital Brasilia, said officials could replace a passport in 24 hours in an emergency. Then she backed off.

”To set that level of expectation for someone who lost their passport in the Amazon River. Well, it’s not fair to us,” she said.

The U.S. embassy estimates  sbobet  80,000-90,000 Americans have come to Brazil for the World Cup. Embassy figures suggest that may be 10 times more than usual for this time of the year.

”We’ve seen an uptick in lost passports, but given the number of visitors we have it’s a really small percentage,” said Parra, who explained that consular crews had been working at all 12 World Cup venues.

”But there’s still a couple more weeks to go,” she added.

Carlos Eduardo Lopez of the United States-Mexico border city of Mexicali arrived at the local Mexican consulate, fearing his credit card had been cloned.

”I hope it’s nothing,” he said. ”People are losing passports, visas.  sbobet  There are lots of robberies.”

Mexico and Argentina have dispatched mobile consular units to cities where their teams play.

About 80,000 Argentines attended the country’s last group match in the southern city of Porto Alegre, and as many are expected Tuesday in Sao Paulo for a second round match against Switzerland.

Gabriel Herrera, who heads the embassy’s legal and consular section, said one request trumped the rest as fans passed Argentina’s parked blue and white van.

”People have been walking by  sbobet  asking for tickets, which we don’t have,” he said.

German Tobias Mueller was warned before arriving in Rio to be wary of cash machines and to watch his credit card.

”I was told to be as careful as I would be in Germany,” he said. ”Actually, I was told be at least twice as careful.”

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SBO REPORT:Giants’ Lincecum pitches 2nd no-hitter vs Padres

SBO REPORT:Giants’ Lincecum pitches 2nd no-hitter vs Padres

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Tim Lincecum’s days of dominance  sbo  may be in the past. That doesn’t mean he can’t dial up flashes of the Freak he once was — especially against the San Diego Padres.

Lincecum pitched his second no-hitter against the Padres in less than a year, allowing only one runner Wednesday and leading the San Francisco Giants to a 4-0 win.

“I’ve always been that guy who will kind of go for the strikeout,” Lincecum said. “I think my first no-hitter I had 13, so I think I was going for those a little bit more often.”

“Today I tried to be a little bit more efficient and take what they were going  sbo  to give me. They were giving me a lot of groundballs and a lot of pop flies, so I was just going to try to keep attacking the way that I was,” he said.

Lincecum totally shut down the weakest-hitting team in the majors, striking out six and walking one in a 113-pitch outing — 35 fewer than he needed last July 13 against the Padres in his first no-hitter.

Lincecum retired the final 23 batters after walking Chase Headley in the second inning, relying much more on his off-speed stuff than his fastball. Though the Padres hit a few balls hard,  sbo  San Francisco fielders didn’t need to make any exceptional plays to preserve Lincecum’s gem.

The right-hander with two NL Cy Young Awards became just the second pitcher in major league history to twice no-hit the same team. Hall of Famer Addie Joss did it for Cleveland against the Chicago White Sox with a perfect game in 1908 and a no-hitter in 1910.

“It’s hard enough to do one,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “To do two, that puts you in a little different class. I couldn’t be happier.”

Lincecum (6-5) threw the 16th no-hitter in Giants’ team history. Just one other pitcher has thrown two — Christy Mathewson for the New York Giants more  sbo  than 100 years ago.

In fact, Lincecum joined Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay as the only pitchers with two Cy Young awards and two no-hitters.

“Just to be in that company allows me a chance to pat myself on the back a little bit,” he said.

Making the performance even sweeter was the fact that Lincecum even got two hits of his own, becoming the first pitcher with two hits in a no-hitter since Rick Wise hit two homers for Philadelphia against  sbo  Cincinnati on June 23, 1971.

“Regardless of what they did, I think it’s cool I got two hits anyway because up to today I only had one and a pretty poor batting average,” Lincecum said. “I got that thing above .100 and I feel much better about it.”

But Lincecum will always be known for his pitching. He arrived as a shaggy-haired phenom nicknamed the Freak in 2007 for his ability to generate tremendous velocity from his slight frame.

He won NL Cy Young awards in 2008 and ’09 and helped lead the Giants to their first World Series title in San Francisco the following season.

As age and wear and tear ate away at his velocity, Lincecum was  sbo  forced to change what kind of pitcher he is. It hasn’t been an easy transformation at times as he posted a losing record the past two seasons as his ERA hovered around 5.00.

He was even relegated to the bullpen when the Giants won it all again in 2012 but was brought back with a $35 million, two-year deal last offseason for moments just like this.

“I think it’s been a battle for him at times to make that transformation to what he is now,” Bochy said. “Sometimes less is more, and that’s what I think if anything, hopefully he learned today.”

Headley walked with one out in the second after falling behind 1-2 in the count. The Padres began the day worst   sbo in the majors in batting average, runs and hits.

“He was good. It wasn’t a fluke,” Headley said. “His split and changeup or whatever you want to call it. If it’s not the best in baseball, then it’s one of the best pitches in baseball. Even with the diminished velocity, it’s still a tremendous pitch. He was able to throw it for strikes when he wanted too.”

This was the third no-hitter in the majors this year. Clayton Kershaw did it exactly a week ago and his Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Josh Beckett did it earlier in the season.

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SBO REPORT:Steve Spurrier says he doesn’t know if Nick Saban has ‘maxed out’ on Alabama’s potential

SBO REPORT:Steve Spurrier says he doesn’t know if Nick Saban has ‘maxed out’ on Alabama’s potential

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The subject of Spurrier’s golf  sbobet  game came up when he spoke with The State reporter Josh Kendall late last week. Spurrier maintains that it’s important to have other hobbies away from football to focus on during the offseason so when fall workouts finally roll around, he is excited about preparing his team for the next season.

“I have read stories that people who last a long time have outside interests. I can’t grind on football 11 months a year maybe the way some of these coaches do,” Spurrier said. “I mean, they will go 6:30 a.m. to 7:30, 8:00 at night in the offseason. Did   sbobet you know that? I don’t know what they do. They say they are working.”

When bringing up a specific example of a coach who pulls in those grueling offseason work days that he described, Spurrier, of course, mentioned Alabama’s Nick Saban.

“I told Nick Saban one time, I said, ‘Nick, you don’t have to stay there until midnight and your teams would be just as good and win just as many,’” Spurrier said. “He said, ‘If I could do it the way you do it, I would, but I don’t feel comfortable unless I try to cover every base, every angle, be totally prepared.’ Everybody is different as far as when they feel they are totally prepared.”

Spurrier has led the Gamecocks to a school-record 11 wins in each of the past three seasons. Saban has won  sbobet  three BCS National Championships during his tenure with the Crimson Tide.

“Would we be 12-1 instead of 11-2 (if I worked more)? Oh, you’re kidding. I haven’t heard anybody say that really, but if you wanted to, you can find faults with anybody if they don’t win them all,” Spurrier said.

“How many SECs has (Saban) won there in eight years? He’s won two. He’s won three nationals, but he’s only won two SECs in eight years. Now, if you had the No. 1 recruiting class every year and so forth, I don’t know if he has maxed out potentially as well as he could.”

I don’t think Spurrier said what he said in a spiteful way, he’s just saying that there’s no perfect approach to coaching football at the highest level. Despite only winning two SEC titles, three national titles in seven seasons seems to pretty good   sbobet evidence that Saban’s method seems to be working out pretty well.

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