Will exhausted Justify have enough left to win Triple Crown?

If Transylvania had a race track, this was what it would have looked like. For six days, rain had turned its surface into the Okefenokee Swamp. Then, at approximately 4 p.m. the joint disappeared.

The enveloping fog didn’t roll in. It positively swallowed Pimlico Race Track. North of tote board, the barns were invisible. Northern Parkway just behind them was invisible, and the Baltimore’s City very existence had to be taken on faith.

When they re-emerged, shortly before the quarter pole, Mike Smith, Justify’s jockey had asked him the question all jocks ask their mounts must ask when the race is on the line — and the big chestnut responded as though he’d been shot out of a cannon. Good Magic was not going to catch him. In point of fact, Good Magic had troubles of his own — two of them, to be exact.

Bravazo, a Wayne Lukas horse, and Tenfold, a lightly raced newcomer, were closing on him. The match race battle between Justify and Good Magic was a dandy, but Justify was gone and uncatchable. In the end, Justify put away Bravazo by a length and a half with Tenfold another neck back. Good Magic faded to fourth.

It was impressive but hardly easy.

I wasn’t liking at all what I saw before they disappeared into the fog, Justify trainer Bob Baffert said. “Mike (Smith, the jockey) was hitting him left-handed very early and I knew we were in a fight. Then I finally saw them again and Bravazo was coming, and all I could do was pray that the end of the race track would come up fast.

That led the team to announce that he “has not yet officially retired,” which only really created confusion.

Hall went on to do a radio interview on 106.7 The Fan to try to clarify, saying he didn’t want to make any big announcement during Kerrigan’s event, but adding that he wasn’t misquoted either.

“Am I done playing football?” Hall said, via the Washington Post. “I’m probably 95 percent sure I’m done playing football. But I wanted to do it the right way. I wanted to give the . . . organization the respect they deserve and obviously do it with them when the time was right. . . . And I wanted to do it at a press conference. I was in L.A. with NFL Network a couple weeks ago and I wanted to do it then, but the time wasn’t right. [Former Cowboys tight end] Jason Witten had just announced. I didn’t want to take anything away from him.

“I just wanted to wait for the right opportunity for myself to do it. I wanted my one last hurrah. I didn’t want to announce it over social media or anywhere else besides in that . . . building that I spent the last 10 years of my career on stage with the group of guys who brought me there.”cowboys_061

Eagles’ Jay Ajayi sued for allegedly trashing mansion after Super Bowl

Jay Ajayi is being sued after the owner of a Los Angeles mansion claimed the Eagles running back trashed the house and shoved him, TMZ Sports reported.

Ajayi, 24, rented the house for five days in February right after the Eagles defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl. He allegedly hosted three parties, despite the contract for the house saying no parties.

According to the home owner, he charged Ajayi $5,000 for each party he held and tacked on fees for damages to the house, which allegedly included scratched floors, a broken table and the “no smoking” rule being violated.

The owner claims Ajayi didn’t pay the fines and when he confronted Ajayi, the running back allegedly “pushed [him] on [his] chest in a menacing and threatening manner.”

Boston’s guards should amp up their off-the-bounce aggression. If they have to shake only one defender on a pick-and-roll (their own), they should tilt those defenders off balance before the screen — perhaps by faking toward it, and then darting the other way.

The Ravens will hold a press conference on Thursday to announce lower prices on concessions at M&T Bank Stadium. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti suggested that such a move could be coming at his end-of-season press conference.

How much cheaper it will be to eat and drink at Ravens games remains to be seen, but it won’t be a great surprise if other teams choose a similar route given Atlanta’s successful foray into moderating prices inside the stadium.

The family gathered around Kirk. They watched basketball and talked to him. “It was probably his best day in the hospital, and we were able to talk and joke, and the NCAA tournament was on,” Kyle said. “It was a really important day for us.”

Doctors put Kirk at No. 1 in the Midwest on the liver transplant list, and a donor was soon found in Colorado. There was optimism that he would be OK.

“Just all these things were happening to where we all got to be together to where I thought, ‘Oh, this has to have a good ending,'” Klayton said.

The plan was for the liver to be flown to Iowa and for Kirk to undergo surgery on the morning of March 20.ravens_175

Philip Rivers on Antonio Gates: Don’t know where I’d be without him

There was little sign that the Chargers would bring tight end Antonio Gates back for the 2018 season and the team made their plans to move on without him official on Monday with statements thanking the veteran for his years with the team.

Rivers called it “a unique opportunity” to share so much of his career with Gates and both the NFL and Chargers record books attest to how unusual it is for two players to find so much sustained success together.

Said the NFL Players Association in announcing the grievance: “Our union is aware that Eric Reid and his legal representatives filed a collusion claim, which will be heard through the arbitration process as spelled out in our Collective Bargaining Agreement. Our union supports Eric and we are considering other legal options to pursue.”

The development isn’t a surprise. And Reid’s argument will be similar if not identical to the argument previously made by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Put simply, they’ll both contend that the NFL’s teams adopted a coordinated approach to the shunning of players who were deemed to be “bad for business” because of their role in the anthem protests.

Some believe it’s perfectly legitimate to reject players who have protested in the past or who may protest in the future. This overlooks the reality that the NFL has given players the right to protest, that the NFL confirmed the existence of the right to protest after the phenomenon emerged in 2016, and that the NFL reiterated the existence of the right after President Trump’s comments made the issue a major national subject of debate in 2017.

But even if it’s permissible to shun players for exercising rights given to them by the NFL, it’s not permissible for teams to coordinate when it comes to deciding whether to hire or not hire players. It’s not permissible for teams to coordinate as to any employment issue.broncos_004_3dfdf814f2e037c7-180x180

Nick Nelson goes 110th after knee injury in pre-draft workout

Cornerback Nick Nelson was viewed as a mid-round pick earlier this month when he injured his meniscus during a workout with the Lions.

If you have a quarterback that’s as dedicated, and studies as much as Eli has, that’s the way it’s smart to function, because we’ll go out and run a few plays that he’s somewhat familiar with, and he can add something to it, Shurmur said.

Or he can say, ‘I’ve never really done this much, so it’s gonna take me a little longer, and that’s his way of saying (he doesn’t like it). And then you’re constantly communicating.

So when we get to Sunday in the fall, we’re doing the things that fit for us. Part of it also is who is he throwing to?

Ogbuehi was the 21st overall pick in the 2015 draft and rode the bench as a rookie before taking over at right tackle in 2016. He started 12 games and ended the year on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He moved to the left side last year after Andrew Whitworth left as a free agent, but his play on both sides did little to suggest he’s a long-term answer.

If that should change this season, Ogbuehi will hit the open market next March with a shot to land a longer and/or more lucrative contract but will need to winning a starting job before that’s something to think about.

It gives you massive peace of mind, GM Thomas Dimitroff said over his cell, coming home from work Wednesday night.

To know that (position) is taken care of, and for us with a guy that’s not just an adept quarterback, but a guy who carries himself as we’d ideally want him to, it’s huge. He’s very smart and open-minded in taking on new challenges, new setups, new offensive coordinators, all of that.

It’s very settling for me. You have to consider where the Falcons were when they took Ryan—coming out of the Vick/dog-fighting situation, and looking to replace a wildly popular icon—to understand the scope of what Ryan has meant to the franchise.broncos_089_91bb5ff393b2e70b-180x180

Why Yankees sent Jacoby Ellsbury home from workout

Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s out battling a right oblique strain, left hip soreness and plantar fasciitis in his right heel, was sent home from workouts because he was sick Monday, Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

Ellsbury, making $21 million this year, played in just six spring training games and has been on the disabled list all regular season. He’s rehabilitating at the team’s player development complex in Tampa.

Odell Beckham Jr. ranked No. 77 on NFL Network’s top 100 players More Odell Beckham Jr. may be wanting to get paid like the top receiver in football and one of the NFL’s elites, but it seems his peers may not have him in that echelon at the moment. This is a far cry from where the Giants talented receiver ranked last season, when he was No. 8. The 2018 version of the ‘Top 100′ list is the eighth rendition, and it is compiled based on voting by NFL players. Beckham came in at No. 10 in 2016 and No. 32 in 2015.  Since entering the league in 2014, Beckham has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL, racking up 4.424 yards and 38 touchdowns on 313 catches.

I just thought that if they were going to commit to Eli for another couple of years, and given the talent they have on offense and given the fact that he had almost completely rebuilt the offensive line it was a no-brainer to me, Accorsi said.

They can make a run. With that talent they have on offense, it’s explosive…. I just think it was an ideal pick. He’s a great player.

Accorsi was Giants’ assistant general manager from 1994-97 and general manager from 1998-2007. During that time, the Giants picked two running backs in the first round — Tyrone Wheatley and Ron Dayne — and both failed to live up to expectations.

Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin has NFL’s best hands since 2015 More If Allstate Insurance is looking for a new spokesman, perhaps they should hire Seattle Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin. Baldwin has the safest hands in the NFL, according to research by Pro Football Focus.sharks-044

Herrera hits 2 homers, Nola goes 7, Phils beat Braves 7-3

Odubel Herrera hit two homers, Jorge Alfaro also went deep and Aaron Nola pitched seven innings to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 7-3 Friday night.

Braves right-hander Julio Teheran left after three innings because of tightness in his right upper trapezius. There was no word on the extent of his injury.

Nola (3-1) settled in nicely after allowing three runs in the first. He didn’t give up another run and surrendered seven hits.

Acuna robbed Herrera of extra bases with a diving, backhanded catch on a sinking liner to left.

Braves: C Tyler Flowers was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list and C Carlos Perez was designated for assignment. The team also recalled Whitley from Triple-A Gwinnett and RHP Matt Wisler was optioned.

Phillies: RHP Ben Lively was placed on the 10-day DL because of a strained lower back. Righty Jake Thompson was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-1, 2.77 ERA) starts for the Braves on Saturday while RHP Nick Pivetta (1-0, 2.57 ERA) goes for Philadelphia. Foltynewicz is 3-2, 4.02 in nine appearances against the Phillies. Pivetta is 3-0, 2.77 in five starts vs. Atlanta.

St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Tommy Pham was back in the starting lineup and went 4-for-6 on Thursday afternoon. He was forced from Wednesday’s game when he suffered a cut to his forehead while preparing in the batting cage for his second at-bat.

“He’s resting as comfortably as he can be,” said Showalter, whose last-place Orioles have lost 18 of their first 24 games. “We’re just going to take it day by day, but I’m not planning on him being a big league player for six weeks.”

Beckham is the third key position player to hit the disabled list for the O’s. He joins All-Star second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who’s been out since April 14 with an oblique strain, and designated hitter Mark Trumbo, whose quad strain has kept him out all season. Closer Zach Britton (Achilles) and outfielder Colby Rasmus (hip flexor) are also on the DL.

Prior to hitting the shelf, Beckham had been the Orioles’ starting third baseman, hitting .179 with one home run and four RBIs in 23 games this season. A former top overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, the 28-year-old Beckham came to Baltimore last July 31 in a trade with Tampa. Playing exclusively shortstop, he posted a .306 average with 10 homers in 50 games following the trade. This year, with Manny Machado moving from third base back to his natural position of shortstop, Beckham made the switch to third.dolphins_035

John Lynch: Reuben Foster will be cut if proven he hit woman

General manager John Lynch said Monday the San Francisco 49ers will be patient through linebacker Reuben Foster’s legal issues in a domestic violence case but stressed he won’t remain on the team if it determines he hit a woman.

“I’m not at liberty to go in depth on this because it’s an ongoing legal process, and we’re going to respect that. I do have a couple of thoughts. Speaking for Jed (York) and Kyle (Shanahan) and speaking for the York family, as you all know and as our release indicated, we take the gravity of these charges extremely seriously. We do feel like patience is the right approach right now. We’re going to learn things through this legal process.

In addition to the aforementioned felony charges in California, Foster is also facing second-degree marijuana possession charges in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after an arrest there on Jan. 12. His next hearing for that is scheduled for May 2.

Either case could lead to discipline from the NFL, up to and including suspension. Foster’s cases will be reviewed under the league’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct.

The 49ers drafted Foster 31st overall last year after questions about his health and character caused him to drop from being a possible top 10 pick.

Last year, 182 players, including 137 from American colleges, were on the early-entry list, up from 162 total and 117 from colleges in 2016.

Sixty-four college underclassmen kept their names in the NBA draft a year ago, which was up from 60 in 2016. This year, more than 55 college underclassmen have already either signed with an agent or announced they will sign with an agent, forgoing their remaining college eligibility. That list includes likely lottery picks Deandre Ayton (Arizona), Marvin Bagley III (Duke), Jaren Jackson Jr., (Michigan State), Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri) and Mohamed Bamba (Texas). Luka Doncic, expected to be selected in the top five in the June 21 NBA draft, was one of the 55 international players to declare.

However, the majority of the college underclassmen who have declared have not yet signed with an agent. The NBA rule allows players to retain their eligibility as long as they withdraw before May 30, 10 days after the conclusion of the May 16-20 NBA draft combine in Chicago.

A few key players, and potential first-rounders, decided not to test the NBA’s draft process, including Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford, Gonzaga sophomore forward Rui Hachimura and Virginia redshirt freshman De’Andre Hunter.dolphins_116

Ole Miss objects to waiver request of ex-QB Shea Patterson

Ole Miss has formally objected to former quarterback Shea Patterson’s request to play college football in 2018, according to Patterson’s attorney.

The former Rebel quarterback transferred to Michigan in December. He petitioned the NCAA to waive its usual one-year transfer waiting period this spring on the grounds that his old coaches at Ole Miss lied to him and other players about the degree of trouble the program was in for violating NCAA rules.

“Following reports concerning the interviews of Derrius Guice at the Scouting Combine, the League conducted a thorough investigation, which included a formal review and report from every club that interviewed Mr. Guice during the Combine, as well as discussions with Mr. Guice, his agent and others,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “The investigation did not confirm that any club made the reported inquiries. Nonetheless, we used this opportunity to reaffirm our workplace standards and emphasize the importance of fully complying with all requirements of federal and state law. The NFL and each of its member clubs remain fully committed to fair and non-discriminatory employment practices.”

At the time of the accusation, the league released a statement deploring such questions.

“Everyone who works in the NFL, including cheerleaders, has the right to work in a positive and respectful environment that is free from any and all forms of harassment and discrimination and fully complies with state and federal laws,” the statement read.

“If the NFL is serious about this statement,” Blackwell said in Tuesday’s letter, “then this should be an acceptable settlement demand.”

Tillman (1-4) struck out five and walked two on 98 pitches to get Baltimore its second win in 13 games. Tillman had gone 22 straight starts without a victory since May 7, 2017 — his first outing of last season. He also pitched past the sixth inning for the first time since Aug. 11, 2016.

Manny Machado hit his team-leading ninth home run and added an RBI single in the eighth. Richard Bleier pitched a perfect eighth, and Mychal Givens closed out the ninth.

Tillman provided a needed performance for the Orioles (7-19), who are enduring the second-worst 26-game stretch to begin a season in franchise history. The team started the 1988 season 0-21 before winning two of its next five games.sl_cardinals_046

Penguins erase 2-goal deficit, beat Capitals 3-2 in Game 1

After the Capitals scored early, the Penguins scored often to stun their rivals with yet another comeback.

Patric Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel scored in a 4:49 span to help Pittsburgh erase a two-goal deficit in the third period and the Penguins beat Washington 3-2 on Thursday night in Game 1 of the second-round series.

“I thought he was locked in all night long,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He made some big saves for us, especially when they were pressing down the stretch there. … When you get those types of saves, it’s easy to play with some confidence in front of him.”

Murray couldn’t predict a furious comeback, but he wasn’t shocked, either. Not after Pittsburgh has won nine consecutive playoff series dating to 2016, including two against these Capitals.

Eric Karabell: I am paying close attention to Cincinnati Reds infielder Nick Senzel, for it is important which position he plays and how he does at the plate. It’s a bit like Acuna’s call-up foolishly being delayed by the Braves because he wasn’t hitting like a star in the minors. He never wanted to be there in the first place. Neither does Senzel. He can hit in the majors right now and should be hitting second in the Reds’ regular lineup and is capable of playing second base and third base. The Reds have nothing special at shortstop, but I can understand why he is not being pushed to play there. On the pitching side I’ll also watch Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech. The strikeout ability is so special I think he is worth stashing now, even if the White Sox are bad and wait a few months to call him up.

Tristan H. Cockcroft: For me it’s Senzel, whom I think would already be in the majors if he had begun the Triple-A season with better hitting stats — he’s hitting .246/.333/.361 through 15 games for Louisville. In fact, I preferred Senzel to Torres for the 2018 full season at the onset of the regular season, once both had been assigned to the minors, as the Reds showed a willingness to be creative with Senzel’s position, which is sure to accelerate his ascent to the majors. Through those 15 games, Senzel has made nine starts at second base and six at third base, and he also logged some time at shortstop during spring training.jets_013

Mitchell scores 33, Jazz rout Thunder 113-96

Shutting down the Utah Jazz offense is proving easier said than done for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

For a second straight game, a late second-quarter surge by Utah carried over into the second half and it allowed the Jazz to pull away for a 113-96 victory Monday night. The Jazz used a 20-3 run spanning the end of the second quarter and the start of the third to break open the game.

The Thunder opened a 26-19 lead late in the first quarter when Carmelo Anthony capped a string of three straight Oklahoma City baskets with an alley-oop layup. They held onto the lead for much of the second quarter until Utah finally woke up on offense.

Starting with Gobert cutting to the rim for a dunk with 3:45 left in the second quarter, the Jazz scored on 11 straight possessions. Ingles fueled the surge by hitting three consecutive 3s to put Utah in front 58-52 before halftime.

“These guys are great at telling me to shoot it as much as possible within the flow of our team and our offense,” Ingles said.

Desperate to break out of a slump, Marcell Ozuna resorted to changing lumber.

The move worked wonders for the St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder.

Using a bat borrowed from teammate Jose Martinez, Ozuna hit a tiebreaking two-run single, and Michael Wacha won his fourth straight start as the Cardinals beat the New York Mets 9-1 on Wednesday night.

“This is something for him to build off of,” Matheny said. “It was big. This should trend towards good things in the future. Marcell is getting there.”

Wacha (4-1) gave up one run on five hits over six innings. He struck out eight and walked one. He is 4-0 with 2.78 ERA over his last four starts. His only loss this season came in a 6-2 setback to the Mets on March 31.

“I was able to put the fastball where I wanted to,” Wacha said. “Got some sweet misses.”

Wacha was just as proud of his safety squeeze bunt that brought in Paul DeJong and pushed the lead to 4-1 in the fourth. Wacha also scored two runs in the game, “for the first time since high school,” he joked.jets_049