SBO REPORT:NASCAR suspends Hamlin crew chief Grubb 6 races

SBO REPORT:NASCAR suspends Hamlin crew chief Grubb 6 races

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NASCAR suspended Denny Hamlin’s crew  sbo  chief and car chief on Tuesday for six races because the Joe Gibbs Racing entry failed inspection following his third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Darian Grubb and Wesley Sherrill were both suspended through the Sept. 6 race at Richmond. Grubb, the crew chief, was also fined $125,000.

It strips Hamlin of two vital crew members during the stretch of the season he would be putting the finishing touches on preparations for NASCAR’s title-deciding, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Grubb and Sherrill, who also each received six months’ probation, are  sbo  not eligible to return until the Chase opener, Sept. 14 at Chicago.

JGR said in a statement it will appeal the penalty, but Grubb and Sherrill will begin serving their suspensions immediately. Under NASCAR rules, suspended competitors can compete until the appeal process is complete, but delaying sitting out would extend the suspensions into the Chase should JGR not get portions of the penalty overturned.

Also, Hamlin and team owner Joe Gibbs were docked 75 points apiece in the driver and owner standings. It dropped Hamlin from 11th to 21st in the Sprint Cup standings. But, as a race winner already this season, Hamlin is likely guaranteed a spot in the 16-driver Chase field.

Hamlin’s car failed post-race inspection Sunday because NASCAR   sbo said it found issues with several of the covers in the rear firewall of the driver compartment. Loose or missing covers could vent the driver compartment and create more downforce for the car.

The penalty was considered a P5 infraction under the scale NASCAR implemented this season. It clearly defines penalties and their punishments on a P1 to P6 scale.

Penalties found post-race are subjected to an additional 25 point deduction and an increase of the fine by up to $50,000 than if they would have been found before the race. NASCAR has deemed a P5 penalty so serious, it does not consider intent.

“P5 penalties, in general, are extremely serious,” the rule book states. “They represent other key safety areas  sbo  not mentioned elsewhere in this (penalty) section and potentially performance-related areas of the car that might or might not afford a competition advantage, but with a violation occurring in such a fashion that it would be naive to attribute the violation to an accident, omission, or misunderstanding, even if it was an accident, omission, or misunderstanding.”

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SBO REPORT:Anthony Johnson takes step forward on road to

SBO REPORT:Anthony Johnson takes step forward on road to redemption by beating Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

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Just over two years ago,  sbobet Anthony “Rumble” Johnson lashed out at his critics over Facebook, after he missed weight for a middleweight bout with Vitor Belfort by an astonishing 11 pounds.

“I don’t give a [expletive],” Johnson said in a long-since-deleted post. “I’m laughing at you all.”

Johnson went on to lose in the first round to Belfort in what was assumed to be the last anyone would ever see of the Dublin, Ga., native.

Contrast that to the words that came out of Johnson’s mouth Saturday night in the Octagon at the SAP Center, after he needed just 44 seconds to score a vicious TKO victory over veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the co-feature bout of  sbobet  UFC on FOX 12.

Two matches into his UFC redemption tale, and now fighting as a light heavyweight, Johnson is levelheaded, humble and laser-focused on making the most of his second chance.

“I’ve been down a pretty crazy road,” Johnson (18-4) said in his in-ring interview following the fight. “The story of me is pretty out there. The best thing that ever happened to me is for [UFC president] Dana White and [UFC CEO] Lorenzo Fertitta to cut me. I’m grateful they gave me the chance to look at myself in the mirror.”

As amazing as this might seem for fans who might have tuned into the network television broadcast and seen the 6-foot-3 Johnson compete for the first time, back in the day, Johnson actually began his UFC stint at welterweight.

Johnson had trouble  sbobet  making the weight from the start. He missed weight by six pounds for his UFC debut against Rich Clementi at UFC 76, then tired and lost in the second round. By cutting massive amounts of weight, he’d go into the cage and have a huge size differential. As might be expected, he had knockout power, with each of his first five UFC wins coming by knockout. That includes a UFC 104 catchweight bout in which he finished Yoshiyuki Yoshida after missing weight by five pounds.

Eventually, Johnson gave up the ghost and went to middleweight, where his shocking miss against Belfort occurred.

Johnson, who trains with South Florida’s Blackzilians camp, isn’t afraid to admit he brought shame upon his team.

“After I got cut by the UFC for not making weight, I realized I was making myself look like a fool,” Johnson said. “I was hurting my team. I was hurting my family. I was hurting myself. Sooner or later, you’ve got to grow up in life, and I think that in the  sbobet  two years I was away from the UFC, I grew up quite a bit.”

Even then, the turnaround took some time. Johnson missed weight again at middleweight in his first post-UFC bout before jumping up to light heavyweight.

That’s where he found his groove. Johnson won six fights in a row – including a victory at heavyweight over former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski – to earn his second chance.

In his return fight, Johnson was considered all but an afterthought against brash-talking Phil Davis, who was on the short list of contenders to fight light heavyweight champ Jon Jones. Johnson absolutely humiliated Davis in a 15-minute rout.

“It’s amazing,” White said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a guy go from 170 [pounds] to 205 and actually be more powerful and more devastating than he was at 170. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Last night, Johnson   sbobet pounced on Nogueira, the brother of former PRIDE and UFC interim heavyweight champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He leveled “Li’l Nog” with brutal uppercuts, which left blood pouring off Nogueira’s forehead to the mat as if from a faucet.

“When you face a guy like Nogueira, you think, ‘OK, this is about to be a battle,’ because the last name Nogueira means a lot,” said Johnson, who earned a disclosed $156,000, including a $50,000 performance bonus. “Those guys fight with a lot of pride. I knew I had to finish him or hurt him really bad so the judges didn’t have any second guesses or think that he won. So I’m glad that it ended that way.”

In the wake of his back-to-back impressive performances, Johnson finds himsef in an interesting spot in the 205-pound race. He has thoroughly dismantled Davis, who was ranked top five in the division heading into their fight; and made  sbobet  short work of Nogueira, a salty vet on his career downside. Given the one-sided nature of both performances, it would seem to do little good to give Johnson a lower-ranked opponent.

Among the top tier, however, Jones is defending his title against unbeaten Daniel Cormier on Sept. 27. Cormier is a sub for Alexander Gustafsson, who suffered a knee injury and who figures to be next in line. Another big name, former champ Rashad Evans, is Johnson’s Blackzilians teammate.

White didn’t have an immediate answer.

“I was blown away by Anthony’s performance tonight,” White said. “He made it quick, and he made it look easy. We’ll get him another fight.”

For his part, given the path he’s trod in the two short years between his Facebook meltdown and his current mindset, Johnson is willing to take things as they go.

“I’m training a lot different,” he said. “I’m training harder, I’m training smarter, and I’ve dedicated myself to the sport. I’m really trying to give it my all.”

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SBO REPORT:Daniel Cormier says injured knee ‘feels fine’

SBO REPORT:Daniel Cormier says injured knee ‘feels fine’

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UFC light heavyweight contender  sbo  Daniel Cormier is missing half of one ACL in a knee, and partially tore his LCL as well. Because of this, just weeks ago he had planned to undergo surgery this month to repair the injuries.

When Alexander Gustafsson tore his meniscus and pulled out of his Sep. 27 title challenge rematch against champ Jon Jones this week, Cormier decided to jump in as a substitute. According to an interview “DC” gave to MMA Junkie this week, he came thisclose to getting the surgery but “thankfully” missed a doctor’s appointment last week and so never got the last recommendation to do so.

Cormier, now a televisino analyst for FOX in addition to his fighting,   sbo said that he missed an appointment to see his doctor last Wednesday in order to be in Los Angeles to cover the Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller fight. The fighter claimed that he was going to ask the doctor if he could skip surgery anyway, because his LCL had begun to heal and his knee felt back to normal.

“Thank goodness I didn’t go into that doctor’s appointment because I didn’t want to have the surgery but what if he would have advised me to? Just because, you know, doctors always kind of like to play it safe,” Cormier said.”

The two-time Olympian went on to assure that his knee feels fine and that he’ll be ready to go against Jones –   sbo perhaps the most dominant fighter in UFC history – and on short notice.

“I feel fine, boys,” Cormier claimed.

“I realize now that my LCL was what was bothering me. And the only thing you can do for that is time. Well, with time, it has healed and now my knee feels completely strong, man. I sparred yesterday. I did Jiu Jitsu yesterday, I ran and I feel fine. I’m pretty sore, though, I’ll be honest with you. Too much time behind the desk and not enough time in the gym.”

Even if Cormier does not, in fact, “feel fine” he likely found it impossible to pass up the chance at a world title. He’d earned one at heavyweight but the champion is his friend and training partner Cain Velasquez, so the wrestler decided to drop down to light heavyweight.

Now, Cormier will get to fight not just a long-time rival of his in “Bones,”  sbo  but have a chance at achieving a dream of being the best in the world. “Realistically, you have two undefeated guys fighting for the title. It doesn’t get bigger than that,” Cormier said of himself and Jones, whose only official loss was a controversial disqualification one against Matt Hamill.

“He’s undefeated in my eyes. He’s the greatest fighter in the world. I’m excited to test myself against the dude. this is the fight that I’ve been waiting for. This is the moment that I’ve been waiting for.”

Do you think Cormier is rushing his recovery to fight Jones? Let us know in the comments section.

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SBO REPORT:Re-Watching Andre Holmes

SBO REPORT:Re-Watching Andre Holmes

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The past couple days, I took a look  sbobet  at Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes’ 2013 tape and charted all of his 53 targets in the passing game. I also watched 206 of his offensive snaps, including every play he lined up for from his breakout Week 13 on Thanksgiving Day through Week 15.

Holmes played his college ball at small school Hillsdale College in Michigan. He holds the school’s record for receiving yards and set multiple records across his final two seasons when he reeled in 181 passes for 2,444 yards and 17 touchdowns. Holmes was also a member of the track and field team, competing in the triple jump.

Following his senior season in 2010, Holmes played in the Texas vs.  sbobet  Nation All-Star Game and was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. At the Combine, he measured in at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and ran a 4.51 forty with a 35-inch vertical and 10-foot-10 broad jump. You can’t build a more physically-gifted receiver. With all that said, Holmes still went undrafted. He signed a free-agent deal with the Vikings shortly after the draft and spent the summer with Minnesota before getting his walking papers in August. The Cowboys signed Holmes to their practice squad a week later. He spent the season there before getting in on 17 offensive snaps and making two catches for 11 yards across seven games for Dallas in 2012. Jerry Jones then let Holmes go, and he inked a futures pact with the Patriots and spent five months on the roster before landing back on the street in May 2013  sbobet . The Raiders scooped him up, and we’re at where we’re at right now.

Below is what I observed while watching Holmes’ second-half breakout, followed by an attempt to glance into his NFL future.

Editor’s Note: For everything NFL and training camp-related, follow @Rotoworld_FB and @NickMensio on Twitter, and check out Rotoworld’s Player News Page. Also, don’t forget to purchase our Draft Guide, which is packed with rankings, projections, mock drafts, columns, and more.

The Raiders’ 2013 Offense

OC Greg Olson took over the reins after Greg Knapp was fired, and he led the Raiders to a 12th-place finish in rushing, 24th in passing, and 23rd in total yards. Three different quarterbacks started at least one game for Oakland last season,  sbobet  compiling a 4-12 record. Olson had to alter his game plan weekly depending on who was starting under center. If it was Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders leaned heavily on the running game and dual-threat Pryor’s legs brought to the table. When it was Matt McGloin, the offense functioned more like an NFL offense. Olson has a West Coast offense background, but he also likes to dabble with run-heavy, throw-deep tendencies. And he had the receivers and running back to do it with last season in Oakland; he just didn’t have the quarterback that could make the throws consistently enough.

Snap Breakdown

The NFL handed Holmes a four-game PEDs suspension last July, so he sat out the first month of the season and wasn’t activated until Week 6 when he took the roster spot of Matt Flynn. Holmes really got his chance when Denarius Moore sat out Weeks 12-14 with an injury. He was an  sbobet  every-down receiver from there on out. Our good friends at Pro Football Focus had Holmes down for 393 offensive snaps played on the year. As mentioned above, I charted 206 of those — 101 wide left (49 percent), 92 wide right (44.7 percent), and 13 in the slot (6.3 percent). As we can see, Holmes is your prototypical long-striding, outside “X” receiver. He often went against the other team’s top corner, especially over the final two months. Holmes saw Kansas City’s Sean Smith twice, Pittsburgh’s Ike Taylor, Tennessee’s Jason McCourty, Dallas’ Brandon Carr, the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie, and San Diego’s Shareece Wright. Smith appeared to give him the most trouble as a bigger corner.

Target and Route Breakdown

I charted Holmes with 53 targets (including penalties). 20 came on first down, 13 on second down, 19 on third, and one on fourth. Holmes hauled in  sbobet  25 passes — 20 moved the chains — for 431 yards and his first career touchdown. Of his 28 targets that weren’t hauled in, I credited Holmes with three drops. Seven of Holmes’ targets came in the red zone, and he was stopped at the one-yard line twice. He could have easily scored four-to-five more touchdowns.

On Holmes’ 53 targets, I jotted down what kind of route he ran. He ran 11 “go” routes, seven “in” routes, six double-moves, five comebacks, four crossing routes, four hitches, three slants, three outs, three drags, two posts, two corner routes, two back-shoulder fades, and one sit-down route.

Holmes was asked to run a lot of routes of the intermediate-to-deep variety, which is obviously part of the reason he caught fewer than 50 percent of the passes that came his direction. Also working against Holmes was Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin’s inability to get the ball to him in stride or at chest level. On one instance, Pryor overthrew Holmes on a deep ball when had a step or two on Ike Taylor that may have gone for a long touchdown. Pryor was 4-for-15  sbobet  throwing to Holmes, while McGloin was 21-for-38. I noticed that Holmes was often McGloin’s first read. He knew all he had to do was throw it up to the high-flying Holmes to have a chance at a big play.

Where Holmes Needs to Improve

Holmes struggled catching the ball the closer he was to the line of scrimmage. The ball got on top of him quickly a handful of times. That’s not unusual for a young receiver coming from a small school where all he simply had to do was run by defensive backs. Holmes should get better in the short game the more reps he sees in practice.

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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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