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  • Two weeks out from the Ivy Tournament, here's where Penn basketball stands

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    As the 2018 Ivy League Basketball Tournament approaches for the men’s and women’s teams, there is much left to be determined. The last two weeks of conference play will decide which teams qualify for the tournament, as well as where those teams will be seeded.

    Ahead of the men’s tournament, the race for the number one seed has only two contenders left: Penn and Harvard. The two teams both stand at a record of 9-1 in conference games, following to Harvard just over a week ago. The Crimson got their only Ivy loss of the season in an early February game at Columbia.

    The two powerhouse programs will face off this weekend in a game that will have big tournament implications.

    While Penn and Harvard are both guaranteed a spot in the tournament due to their near-perfect records, the last two spots are open for almost anyone. Yale, at 5-5, leads the rest of the league, while Brown, Cornell, and Columbia all trail with a record of 4-6. A lot will be sorted out this weekend, when Yale and Brown each face off against Cornell and Columbia in New York.

    Princeton, at 3-7, and even Dartmouth, at 2-8, still are contenders for the four-seed, if they can win out and other key games fall into place. It’s not impossible, as Penn demonstrated last year when they made the 2017 tournament with a 6-8 record and out.

    The Tigers, who won the inaugural tournament last year and nearly beat Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64, have fallen off significantly from last season, and are now long shots to make the tournament. After starting conference play 3-1, Princeton is on a six-game slide heading into its Friday matchup against Harvard. The Big Green will also be tested this weekend when they face the Quakers, a team that beat them handily earlier this season.

    As for the women’s tournament, the Quakers fell to 8-2 after suffering a season sweep by Princeton earlier this month. They now trail the Tigers, who lead the conference with a record of 9-1. In order for Penn to reclaim the top spot in the conference, another tManchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has penned pre-contract terms with PSG, it has been revealed.Off contract in June, Herrera has baulked at committing to new terms with United.And AS reports Herrera has signed a deal with PSG to 2023.The agreement will be worth €8m-a-year with the 29 year-old to join PSG this summer on a Bosman.As yet, neither club has confirmed the reports.eam must beat Princeton.

    Also in the running for a top tournament seed are Harvard, Dartmouth, and Yale, all tied at 6-4. Although they could pass Princeton and Penn, it would take a near-perfect end to conference play. The three tied schools do not play each other again this season, which means they could enter the tournament together in a three-way tie.

    To make matters even more complicated, all three teams split their season serieeenwood has earned a new chant!The Red Devils teenager scored his first senior goal for the club against FC Astana to get his team a 1-0 win.And the crowd were sufficiently hyped for the academy product's performance, as evidenced by the new chant.Ths 1-1, which means that if they end the season tied, their records against other teams in the league could decide who makes the tournament.

    No team is guaranteed a spot in the tournamhe LaLiga.After PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi's blast for the club's big name players over the weekend, it's been suggested super agent Pini Zahavi has made contact with Real Madrid and Barcelona on Neymar's behalf.However, broadcasters BeinSport,ent yet, but Princeton can secure a spot with one more win. As far as the rest of the field, only Columbia is mathematically eliminated from contention, although it would take a lot for Cornell or Brown, both 2-8, to find their way into the tournament given the records of the five teams ahead of them.

    With almost all Ivy men’s and women’s basketball teams still eligible for a tournament appearance, nearly every game this weekend will be an exciting showdown with huge tournament implications.

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  • Penn men's basketball cruises past Yale, will face Harvard for NCAA Tournament bid

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    Eight days off a devastating , it wouldn’t have been foolish to expect Penn men’s basketball to come out hot in the teams’ firstt on the signing of Kieran Tierney from Celtic.The fullback was expected to complete a move to the Gunners from the Scottish treble winners.However, a report in The Sun suggests that a £15 million offer was rejected.Celtic want close to twice as muc matchup since.

    But this was something else.

    In the second semifinal of the Ivy League tournament, No. 2 seed Penn was all over No. 3 Yale from start to finish, opening up a 23-point first-half lead and cruising to an 80-57 victory. With the victory, the Quakers advance to Sunday afternoon’s Ivy League championship game against No. 1 Harvard, putting them only 40 minutes away from reaching March Madness for the first time in 11 years.

    “Obviously from the start, we were really locked in. When you play a team in such a short turnaround, you had a bad taste in your mouth, and I think that played to our advantage,” coach Steve Donahue said. “It’s very satisfying, so for us to execute like that against that team in this environment, I feel great about.”

    Despite the final margin, both teams started slow offensively, and the Quakers (23-8, 12-2 Ivy) led only 12-9 six minutes in after some strong play from Yale big men Blake Reynolds and Paul Atkinson. But it was all Penn from there.

    Midway through the first half, the Red and Blue went on a 12-0 run spurred by some strong play from several of their reserves, and led by as many as 23 before carrying a 44-25 edge into the break.

    As thoroughly as Penn outplayed Yale (16-15, 9-5) on the bench, though, AJ Brodeur was undoubtedly the story of the game. The sophomore forward scored seven points in the opening five minutes and didn’t slow down much after that, scoring bucket after bucket in the paint no matter what Yale did.

    For the contest, Brodeur finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds on stellar 10 for 13 shooting from the field, with 17 of those points coming in the first half.

    “Early on in the game, I saw that I was getting single coverage in the post, and I was able to get to my go-to moves with relative ease,” Brodeur said. “My teammates saw that and kept feeding me — normally we expect a defensive change, but down the stretch I didn’t feel much, so I kept it going.”

    In contrast, Yale’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Miye Oni, was shut down the whole way. Averaging 15.5 points per game entering the weekend, Oni shot a surprising 0 for 10 from the field with not a single point in the first half, only finishing with five for the whole game.

    Though Oni missed a fewg closely with Manchester United over Joel Pereira's injury recovery following his loan move to the Scottish club.The Portuguese goalkeeper has made a positive start to life at Hearts with encouraging displays against both Motherwell and Celtic, but open jumpers, Penn junior Antonio Woods stuck to him all afternoon long, earning praise for his efforts on both sides of the ball.

    “I think what he’s brought to us is a defensive mentalitycesco Totti's fiery farewell media conference held on Monday.Totti leveled several accusations at the board and president James Pallotta when announcing he would be leaving Roma after over 30 years as a player and director.The Giallorosso released a ," Donahue said. "He can guard a Miye Oni and a Seth Towns [of Harvard], or a quicker guard at the same time. He’s made us a much better defensive team, and that’s where he’s helped us most.”

    The elite defensive effort was by no means limited to Woods, as Penn’s league-leading three-point defense was on full display. Yale didn’t hit a single three-pointer until junior Alex Copeland sank one with under four minutes left in the first half, and the Elis shot 4 for 24 from deep as a team.

    “It’s up there,” senior guard Darnell Foreman said when asked if the first half was the team’s best defensive period of his career. “Everybody was locked in, and all five guys helped each other. We did a good job of not fouling, we contested at the rim, and we just made it tough for them to score.”

    After Saturday’s dominant win, it’s win-or-go-home tomorrow afternoon, and the Quakers’ showdown with No. 1 Harvard (18-12, 12-2) will be a very highly anticipated rematch.

    The two teams shared the Ivy League regular season championship, and split their two-game series with each team winning when at home. Most recently, only two weeks ago, the teams played an instant classic back-and-forth battle, when Penn won a in the Palestra.

    Penn has already cemented its place in school history. And now, it's one win away from getting a chance on the biggest stage of all.

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  • Penn women's soccer ready for the first step forward

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    It’s soccer season in University City.

    Penn women’s soccer opens its season this weekend with two games — one away against Mount St. Mary’s and one home against Old Dominion — giving the team two chances to start out on the right foot.

    The season is young, so the Quakers are trying to focus on more short-term goals before setting thee Premier League will not use video assistant referees in 2019-20 to rule on goalkeepers moving off their line to save a penalty, reports BBC Sport.Three penalties have been retaken at the Women's World Cup after VAR ruled keepers did not have at leair eyes on an Ivy League championship or an NCAA berth. Right now, the team is taking every practice and game one day at a time.

    “We are kind of just starting small,” senior ally e closing in on the signing of Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon.According to The Sun, the move has progressed to the extent that Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will give Ndombele a tour of the club.Ndombele, who is 22, is already a French international aabused by Espanyol fans during Saturday's 1-1 draw.The 25-year-old even told captain Iker Muniain about the insults so that he could inform the referee, Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez, however the official did not record it in his report after the back Haley Cooper said.

    The team is untested, with nine new players — including eight freshman and one junior transfer student — filling out the 27-person roster. At this point in the season, nothing is settled on the roster front.

    According to coach Darren Ambrose, the first few games of the season give the Quakers a chance to find the optimal formation and lineup before conference play opens against defending Ivy League champion Harvard on Sept. 27.

    “We want to see how the girls [play] before we decide on a final system,” he said. “We want to see who complements who so that we’ve got a system that allows us to maximize the depth of our roster.”

    Penn’s first game of the weekend will be away on Friday against Mount St. Mary’s (0-4). The Mount is coming into the match against Penn off of a close 0-1 loss to Lehigh last Sunday.

    The last time Penn took on the Mount, the Quakers emerged with a 4-0 victory. This year, the Red and Blue is hoping for a repeat outcome to bolster the young team’s confidence.

    Then, on Sunday, the Quakers will play Old Dominion (0-2) in their home opener at Rhodes Field at 2 p.m. This year marks the second time the Quakers have played the Monarchs after first meeting last year in Norfolk, Va.

    When the two teams played in 2013, Penn came back from a two-goal deficit in regulation to tie the game at 2-2. Despite outshooting the Monarchs, 17-7, Penn was unable to take the upper hand in either of the two overtime periods. The game ended in a tie, the Quakers’ second consecutive draw of the season.

    This year, the Red and Blue is hoping for a slightly different outcome and Cooper, one of the team’s three captains, knows the importance of the weekend.

    “It would be good to get two wins the first weekend, both away and home,” she said.

    Starting the season with a winning 2-0 record could help the Quakers gain momentum before they face Harvard later this month. Last year, the Crimson was responsible for the sole loss on Penn’s 5-1-1 conference record.

    While it is still too soon to make any promises about what will happen come November, the Quakers have their sights set far beyond this opening weekend.

    “Obviously,” said Cooper, “an Ivy League title is in the back of our minds.”

    For now, though, Penn is just looking to take its first step towards a winning record this season.

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  • A toast to tradition, transvestites and Pennsylvania football

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    Greer Cheeseman heads onto the field at the end of the third quarter already knowing how this toast toss — the first of the 2013 season — is going to go.

    As the director of the Penn Band, he’s seen his fair share of toast tosses.

    The band strikes up “Drink a Highball” as Cheeseman watches on. As the song comes to an end, people throw their toast.

    And then they’re gone.

    “This is the part I just don’t understand,” Cheeseman says. “They throw their toast and then they leave.”

    It’s not entirely an exodus, as a fair portion of the crowd stays and watches on despite the fact that Penn has opened up a sizable lead against Lafayette heading into the fourth.

    But Cheeseman isn’t wrong. A large number of fans leave the stadium immediately after throwing their toast.

    For them, Penn football is about tradition.

    At Penn, tradition is everything.

    From the Econ Scream, to Hey Day to Spring Fling, the four years students spend at Penn are enriched by these moments.

    The toast toss is as entrenched in Penn’s history as any of its traditions.

    The story students hear when they arrive at Penn is that for years, fans would drink a highball at the end of the third quarter. But in the middle of the 1970s, the University banned alcohol from being allowed in Franklin Field. As a response, fans started bringing toast rather than alcohol.

    Unfortunately, the history is not quite so dry.

    “I don’t know why they say that,” Cheeseman said.

    As Cheeseman recalled, the tradition had nothing to do with alcohol being banned.

    Instead, it started on South Street.

    The Theatre of Living Arts is now a concert hall, but back in the 1970s, it was a movie theater.

    The TLA had interactive midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show, a cult phenomenon at the time. It featured the character Dr. Frank N. Furter, a transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania, as well as famous actors Susan Sarandon and Meatloaf. Audience members would scream at the screen in addition to doing various acts at points in the movie.

    There’s a scene late in the movie in which the doctor raises his glass and asks for “a toast to absent friends.”

    At that point in the film during those midnight showings, audience members would throw toast at the screen.

    Cheeseman and a few of his friends were amongst those in the crowd and came away impressed.

    “I thought it was clever,” Cheeseman said. “So me and a couple of my buddies decided to try it at a football game. So at the end of ‘Highball,’ we started throwing it.

    “And from there it seemed to take on a life of its own.”

    The tradition has less to do with alcohol being banned and more to do with a fictional doctor, donned in leather and fishnets, raising his glass.

    And now, with attendance dropping every decade, the toast toss may be one of the most memorable parts of Penn football.

    People don’t come out to watch Penn football any more.

    Look back at tape from the 1950s, and the home side of Franklin Field, lower and upper decks, would be filled. The same can be said for the 1980s, when Penn averaged 29,992 fans at Homecoming.

    The toast toss caught on quickly in the ’80s thanks to the large crowds, but the new tradition had no power in keeping fans coming to games over the decades since it began.

    When Dan Shulman got a second chance for Penn to beat Harvard and take the Ivy crown back in 1982, the stands were filled. Conversely, when Penn upset Harvard last Nov. 10, only 8,910 fans were in attendance.

    The ’80s were a resurgent time in Penn football. After being the laughing stock of the Ivy League for much of the ’60s and ’70s. Success had some hand in attendance during that decade, but the times have since changed.

    After all, Al Bagnoli has been Penn’s coach for 22 years. In that time, his team has won nine Ivy League titles, yet still attendance has declined.

    And Penn hasn’t played for anything but an Ivy League title since they joined the Ancient Eight in the late ’50s.

    Now, those that want to watch football are staying home on Saturday rather than coming out to Franklin Field.

    “Penn football’s great. They’re true amateurs. I love watching them,” Cheeseman said. “But if you’re a college football fan, you’re probably staying home, watching [games] on TV.”

    In addition, there are simply other things to do on campus.

    “A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, I have to do my dance group or go to my a cappella concert,” Penn Band secretary Josh Cooper said. “And [football] kind of gets pushed out of the way like a secondary thing.”

    That’s why the toast toss is so important to Penn football.

    The allure of witnessing a team compete for an Ivy championship, buying Chickie’s and Pete’s and spending a Saturday at a historic stadium isn’t enough to fill up even a fourth of Franklin Field’s capacity. It’s the toast toss that differentiates Penn from other schools, and it’s what Penn fans remember years later.

    But that Youtube moment that brings fans out, that students hear about from the time they step on campus and remember for years after they leave, has been threatened many times.

    The first threat to the toast toss came in 1988, when security guards began confiscating toast that people attempted to bring into the stadium.

    “We do not have a policy regarding toast,” Carolyn Schlie Femovich, then-senior associate athletics director, told The Daily Pennsylvanian at the time. “[chettino blanked questions about Christian Eriksen today.He refused to comment on speculation linking Eriksen with a move to Real Madrid, with Manchester United ending their interest in the midfielder as they believe he has his heart set on a move toBut] security has the leeway to confiscate any items that they deem to be safety or health hazards, as well as any items that could disrupt the competition.”

    As a response, Alan Schwarz, a former sports editor at the DP, wrote a column urging students to smuggle toast into the stadium. Had Penn Athletics had its way, there would have been no toast to throw that day, but thanks to Schwarz and his friends, the toast toss stayed alive.

    For a long while after Schwarz’ “Ocean’s Eleven” moment, Penn Athletics started providing the toast for students, but still the tradition fell under fire.

    Penn graduate Pranav Merchant wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2010 criticising the University for promoting a tradition that is a waste of food. He argues that throwing $2,500-worth of food when just blocks away people are living in poverty is ignorant.

    Three years later, he still believes his argument.

    “I grew up with the mentality to respect food,” Merchant said. “To see people take food and just throw it like that is disrespectful.”

    The article raised questions around the Penn community, questioning whether the tradition should be continued. Ultimately, Merchant’s claims fell on deaf ears and the tradition stayed alive.

    Just last year, Penn Athletics decided to stop providing toast, calling for student groups like Red and Blue Crew to take the charge.

    Head of Red and Blue Crew, Jonathan Cousins, presumed everything would work out until he arrived at Skimmerfest that day and saw that no one had toast with them.

    “I said, ‘You know what’s going to happen? All thwas heavily linked with Tottenham and Chelsea.
The German club have reportedly paid €27m for Piatek.“I'm so happy that this transfer got done," Piatek told Hertha's official website. "The way this club is going really convinced me that this wase freshmen are going to come. No one’s going to have any toast. We’re gonna sing the song. There’ll be like 10 pieces of toast thrown by people that brought it,’” Cousins said.

    “It could have died.”

    Ultimately, Penn Athletics helped Red and Blue Crew have bread delivered to the stadium and the crisis was avoided, keeping the tradition alive for ahe potential of teammate Joao Felix.The 20-year-old came on as a second-half substitute against Villarreal, scoring the third in a 3-1 win."Everyone can see what is expected of Joao, he's a young boy and he has lots of room for improvement," Koke sainother day.

    Penn Athletics Director Steve Bilsky is a fan of the tradition.

    “I think it’s a great tradition,” Bilsky said. “I think it’s fun. I’m a big tradition guy, and when you have something that works, keep it.”

    But for Penn Athletics, tradition and money are inextricably linked, serving as another potential threat to the toast toss.

    “I’d like to sell every year,” Bilsky continued, “to the class that’s having its 25th reunion, I’d like to sell the [toast] zamboni to them that year.”

    The third quarter comes to a close as Penn and Dartmouth are locked up in a tight battle on Oct. 5, with the Quakers up one touchdown.

    As toast rains down from the stands, so do the fans. Not as many supporters leave as during the Lafayette game, but still a fair portion of the crowd vacates the stadium.

    Those who stayed were treated to the longest game in Ivy League history, a four-overtime thriller including a blocked kick by senior linebacker David Park to send the game into overtime just when it looked like Dartmouth had it sealed up.

    But the people that left after the toast toss weren’t there for the football anyway.

    “I’ve seen it more and more over the last five or ten years,” Cheeseman said. “More and more people come for the first quarter, stay through halftime, stay for ‘Highball,’ throw the toast, and then there’s an exodus.

    “It’s ‘I came, I saw. I threw. I’m outta here.’”

    Had Cousins’ worst fear been realized that day in 2012, had no toast been thrown from the stands and slowly the toast toss had died, Penn football would have survived. It just wouldn’t be the same.

    More than simply losing the percentage of people who come just to throw toast, Penn football would lose a piece of its soul.

    Parents and alumni wouldn’t scramble to grab a few slices of bread before heading to the game. The band wouldn’t get together every week to make toast.

    “It’s one of those fun things that, after the fact, my parents got excited about putting some bread in the toaster before they left and bringing it down with them,” wide receivers coach and former Penn player Mark Fabish said.

    “It was important for them to be a part of the tradition.”

    While Frank toasts to absent friends in Rocky Horror, Penn fans follow the lyrics of “Highball” to a T — they tell the story of glory of Pennsylvania.

    Only that story isn’t of the heroics that happen on the football field, but the memories forged in the stands.

    “My memories aren’t about the football team going 10-0 my freshmen year. It’s from being part of something that was fun and distinctive and memorable,” Schwarz said. “And when you remove the things that make you distinctive, it’s a dangerous game.

    “Because when you take away those things, you move one step closer to being boring.”SEE ALSO

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  • Volleyball creeping toward goal of third straight Ivy crown

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    In the midst of a fight for its third straight Ivy League title, the Penn volleyball team has once again proven that it is quantity, not just quality, that counts.

    The Quakers face league foes Dartmouth (3-9, 9-14 Ivy) and Harvard (8-14, 7-5) this weekend at the Palestra, hoping to take two more steps towards qualifying for the postseason. Given Penn's talent and tactics, winning these games will take great effort from the team -- not just one star player.

    Penn (17-6, 10-1) lacks a dominant offensive performer. but more than makes up for it with a balanced lineup featuring nine players that get significant minutes.

    "The depth of our team has been amazing," Penn coach Kerry Major Carr said. "Last week in practice we had six people out; a normal team wouldn't be able to run a practice. But we were. Every single person on our [junior varsity] team can play any spot on varsity."

    The Quakers could conceivably clinch the Ivy League Championship this weekend if they win both games and Princeton (15-6, 8-2) loses one. If not, Penn will host the Tigers on Wednesday with the league title at stake.

    This time of year, most coaches begin to pare down the number of players in their rotation. The Penn coaching staff has a different philosophy.

    "There are teams that do look to solidify that starting six," Penn assistant coach Orlin Jespersen said. "We take advantage of our depth and flexibility and the fact that we can switch between different players and different systems."

    Carr put in two offenses at the beginning of the season, the "three-middle" and the "five-one." Each offense has its own starting lineup.

    The coaches had expected to pick one of the two offenses at some point this season under the assumption that one scheme would prove more effective. But with both offenses working well all year, there was no need to pick one over the other.

    The Quakers also have more quality depth throughout their lineup than any other team in the league.

    "We can go three deep at each positionch.The 24-year-old responded to missing out on the latest Three Lions squad by producing his best performance of the season as Villa thumped Norwich 5-1 at Carrow Road on Saturday. Asked if he had expected a call-up for the forthcoming qualifiers wit and still be comfortable," Jespersen said. "There's not a lot of teams that can do that."

    This bevy of good players also ensures better practices, as the coaches can field two talented teams and increase the level of competition within the team.

    "Because wesays this season will be a "reboot".The Viola enter the campaign under new owner Rocco Commisso.“I still feel at home after having been here on pre-season training so many times," said Montella.“We are starting everything from scratch. I am feeli have such a deep team, during practices we're very competitive," senior Lauren Carter said. "Everybody pushes each other. And we know that at any given point in the game, [coach Carr] can throw in another player and they'll get the job done."

    Tomorrow, Penn will face a Harvard team that stands in sharp contrast to their own. The Crimson's best player, junior middle hitter warned Bournemouth must not get "complacent and lazy" towards their Premier League status. The Cherries have secured top-flight football for a fifth consecutive season.But Howe says they cannot afford to take their Premier League status for granted."Kaego Ogbechie, is out for the season with patella tendonitis. How a thinner team like Harvard responds to the challenge remains to be seen.

    The Quakers' emphasis on depth makes them think that no matter who comes out of the game, they won't miss a beat.

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  • Rotation poker hands: AL West

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    With just two weeks until opening day (woo hoo!), most starting rotations have begun to round into shape. So we'll take six days this week to rank the rotations in each division. As if giving you the chance to kigue. The Frenchman has been unemployed since leaving Arsenal at the end of the season 2017/18 season.He said he has rejected the offers because he is "too linked" with the Gunners."I'm an Arsenal man and after that I'm a professional. I can't stop wock and scream about the rankings wasn't enough fun, we're going to add in a wrinkle. Each team will be assigned a poker hand.

    That is, there are five cards in a poker hand and five pitchers in a rotation, so let's assign a hand that each team has been dealt. It's more subjective than scientific and designed for entertainment purposes. The good news is that if you think the idea is stupid, you can still pay attention to how we've ranked the rotations and ignore the poker hands.

    Please note we are assigning a hand per rotation and it's a judgment of the rotation as a group -- not assigning a specific card to each pitcher. While we might note someone is an "ace" for convenience sake, we aren't necessarily saying that, for example, A.J. Griffin is a four of spades.

    Let's dive in.

    Rotation: , , , , ( also possible)

    The A's had a sneaky-good rotation last season, ranking third in the American League in starting pitcher ERA and riding that staff to an AL West championship. This time around, the A's have the potential to be even better because it's possible the likes of Parker, Milone and Griffin will improve in their sophomore seasons. Also, Anderson missed most of last season, and he will make a fine anchor for this young group -- if he can stay healthy, which is always a big question with him. There's always the chance the youngsters will regress a bit as ade Barry.Villa have completed the £1million signing of Barcelona youngster Louie Barry.Barry came through the ranks at West Brom before being snapped up by the Catalan giants in 2019.Six months later the 16-year-old has returned to Birmingham to joinjustments are made, but overall the potential is big.

    Hand they've been dealt

    Three of a kind is pretty good, especially with 10s. This isn't close to the best hand that you can get, but odds are you'll have a winner a good amount of the time that you have these cards.

    Rotation: , , , ,

    The Rangers had a mediocre rotation last season, but Darvish will take a big step forward during his second year in America. Once his adjustment to a new country was finally complete, the 6-foot-5 righthander went 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 67 strikeouts in his last eight starts (57 1/3 innings). Expect Holland to work his ERA back to around 4.00 again, too, a major improvement on his 4.67 mark last season. Also, Ogando has proven a quality starter in his career, going 13-8 with a 3.49 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. And don't forget that will probably return from Tommy John surgery midseason to knock out Lowe (or whoever else might occupy that five slot).

    Hand they've been dealt

    It's three of a kind, albeit not as good as Oakland's hand. Still, three eights with a king kicker is none too shabby and would win a decent amount of deals.

    Rotation: , , , ,

    The Angels managed to have a good rotation last season, despite mediocrity from Wilson, a down year from Dan Haren and a horrible season from Ervin Santana. They did lose Zack Greinke -- who made 13 starts for the Angels -- but retained ace Jered Weaver. Wilson needs to improve and Hanson ipzig coach Ralf Rangnick.Now a technical director for Red Bull, Rangnick is in contact with United about taking a similar role at Old Trafford.United are attracted to taking on the German thanks to his work with Leipzig, where he uncovered the likesneeds to stay healthy, in which case they make for a good 2-3 combo. Vargas was great at Safeco Field last year and awful on the road, but Angel Stadium is a pitcher's park, too. In his career, Vargas is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 43 2/3 innings in his new home stadium. And Blanton can eat 190 not-good-but-not-terrible innings as the five.

    Hand they've been dealt

    Two pair with an ace kicker. It's not bad at all and gives you a chance at winning, but you'll probably need help in terms of other players dropping better hands due to a bluff or everyone else having a pair or worse. In baseball terms for the Angels, the help will be the offense.

    Rotation: , , , ,

    We know all about the ace at the front here. He's elite. After Hernandez, though, we see a lot of question marks and limited upside. What's worse is that Seattle's home-field advantage for pitchers (the staff had a 2.97 home ERA and 4.59 road ERA last season) is mitigated a bit by the Safeco Field fences being moved in -- not to mention the defense has worsened. We don't know if the impact will be severe, but those splits should move closer to even, and that means getting worse at home before it means improving on the road.

    Hand they've been dealt

    Well, there's the ace of spades. The best card in the deck. That's King Felix for you. As for the rest of the hand, we can't make much of it. While it might not be awful, the upside is limited. It's possible in a few years that King Felix will get some company from the likes of Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, maybe even getting them up into flush or full house range (or more?). For now, it's Felix and a bunch of stray cards.

    Rotation: , , , ,

    Norris was 7-13 with a 4.65 ERA and 1.37 WHIP last season, and he sits atop the rotation. Harrell (11-11, 3.76) actually wasn't bad, but Lyles (5-12, 5.09) was. And now the Astros are moving to a tougher division in an overall tougher league for pitchers. It's hard to believe in much upside from Humber or in the full-season health of Bedard, either. Ugly is the word.

    Hand they've been dealt

    It can only get better from here. That's unsuited and one card away from a low straight. But, essentially, it's nothing. It's a seven high and, in many cases, the worst possible hand that one could have. The good news is the Astros had already decided to fold before the hand was dealt. They have no illusions of competing this season and are instead still building the foundation.

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  • Jogo reports the 17-year-old central defender has

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    reliever , who is recovering from a strained right adductor strain, appeared in a "B" game Sunday against the Rockies. Crain, who has been sidelined since Feb. 25, threw adrid have informed Marcelo he can leave this summer.Marca in Inter Milan's Europa League defeat of Ludogorets.Biraghi's goal brought the scored level at 1-1 before Romelu Lukaku sealed the win against Ludogorets as Inter progressed into the round of 16.After the match, he spoke to Inter TV about his emotio says the Brazilian is going to play a secondary role next season - even under Zinedine Zidane - as he'll be playing the part of backup behind the incoming Ferland Mendy from Lyon.The club areone inning and allowed two hits, including a home run."He looked fine, he got through without any issues," manager Robin Ventura said, per .com. "I think you can project him getting back on track and getting into some games over here."

    He is expected to get some work in the nextg talks with United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer over his future at the club amid transfer interest from Italy.The Serb has attracted interest from both Inter and AC Milan and is now seeking reassurances from Solksjaer if he is to stay at the club.Ma few days before making a Cactus League appearance.

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  • Eddie Nketiah.Bramall was scathing in his assessme

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    MLB.com reports Braves reliever , who has been sidelined by a groin injury, threw a five-minute bullpen seys the Hammers are getting an experienced Primer League manager who knows all ahford says he cannot afford to relax during the season.The 22-year-old admitted the biggest challenge, having.The 34-year-old has been out since he suffered a hip problem in late September against Bournemouth.He should be back around the new year, but the Pole does not want to rush his return."I'm all good. I'm feeling like the rehab is going in the right d made it to the highest level, is staying there and proving he is worthy of his place.He said: “It's a massive privilege.“For me, I've bebout winning games.Moyes, who replaces the sacked Manuel Pellegrini, left the Hammers at the end of the 2017-18 season."They are getting a very experienced Premier League ssion Sunday without any discomfort. He is expected to pitch in a spring game this week.

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  • Final World Baseball Classic rosters announced

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    is among the names appearing on the final WBC rosters. (Getty Iowards a move to Atletico Madrid.The 22 year-old has announced he is leaving Brazil next month for Europe - and Atletico are favourites to land him courtesy of a first refusal option - which was secured during their deal for Renan Lodi.Bruno said on mages)

    At long last, rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic have been .

    As you'll soon see, the big name on here is Joey Votto. That's no surprise, as . The question is whether Votto's knee will be in fighting shape by the time the WBC begins.

    Now let's jump right in with a look at the other big names who figure to be competing in the main tournament ...

     -- John Axford, Brewers; Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays; Russell Martin, Pirates; Justin Morneau, Twins; Jameson Taillon, Pirates; Joey Votto,

     -- Robinson Cano, Yankees; Nelson Cruz, Rangers; Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers; Jose Reyes, Blue Jays; Fernando Rodney, Rays; Miguel Tejada, Royals; Jose Valverde; Edinson Volquez, Padres

     -- Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

     -- Yovani Gallardo, Brewers; Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

     -- Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox; Andruw Jones; Andrelton Simmons, Braves

     -- Carlos Beltran, Cardinals; Yadier Molina, Cardinals; Angel ragher believes that Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is the best the British have to offer.Rodgers, who had an up and down stint as Liverpool boss a few years ago, has earned praise since arriving at Leicester from Celtic.Despite the way his LPagan, Giants; Alex Rios, White Sox; Javier Vazquez

     -- Chien-Ming Wang

     -- Heath Bell, Diamondbacks; Ryan Braun, Brewers; R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals; Adam Jones, Orioles; Craig Kimbrel, Braves; Joe Mauer, Twins; Chris Perez, Indians; Brandon Phillips, Reds; Jimmy Rollins, Phillies; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins; Mark Teixeira, Yankees; Shane Victorino, Red Sox; Ryan Vogelsong, Giants; David Wright, Mets; Ben Zobrist, Rays

     -- Elvis Andrus, Rangers; Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; Ramon Hernandez, Rockies; Omar Infante, Tigers; Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks; Martin Prado, Diamondbacks; Francisco Rodriguez; Pablo Sandoval, Giants; Marco Scutaro, Giants; Carlos Zambrano

    In addition to the teams listed above, Australia, Brazil, China Manchester City, is eyeing a stake in a Malaysian team to add to its growing portfolio of clubs, according to the country's sports minister.Ferran Soriano, CFG chief executive, met Malaysian sports minister Syed Saddiq in Malaysia last week with top, Cuba, Spain, Japan and South Korea are also part of the main tournament, which begins  play on March 2.

    As for the three powerhouses within that latter grouping -- Cubs, Japan and South Korea -- .com notes:

    Other participants of note are eight returning players from Japan's 2009 Championship Team, including two Pacific League MVPs, pitcher Toshiya Sugiuchi and outfielder Seiichi Uchikawa, as well as the reigning Central League MVP, catcher Shinnosuke Abe; 11 returning players from Korea's 2009 Finalist squad, including infielder Tae-Kyun Kim and outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim; Cuban stars Frederich Cepeda, Alfredo Despaigne and Yulieski Gourriel ...

    Despite all the usual hand-wringing over the timing of the WBC and participation levels among the stars of the game, those are some pretty impressive names above.

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  • nar Solskjaer is delighted to be staring down his

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    Kansas City outfielder could not take regular batting practice on Sunday, reports the Kansas City Star. Cai Kelly into their squad "with open arms."The summer signing who arrived from Bristol City is already making a name for himself the long-rumoured news that Charlotte in North Carolina will be the home of its 30th franchise, reports, /.Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who led Charlotte's bid to join North America's top-tier soccer league, will pay a record US$325 millionwith the Cherries.The versatile defender, who can maintain a first team pathway for their young players.The likes of Morgan Gibbs-White and Rúben Vinagre have proved a big hit in Wolves' run to a seventh place finish in the Premier League this season.And Shi told CNBC: "Yeah we've spent a lot on tfill in at left back and centre-back, impressed in preseason games againsn injured the back of his right hand during drills in the batting cage. The injury is not believed to be serious and he is considered day to day at this time.

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  • Joel Peralta tweaks neck while getting sandwiches

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    (US Presswire)

    WJuventus coach Max Allegri says Torino are capable of qualifying for Europe.Allegri was impressed by Toro in Friday's 1-1 draw.He said, “They [Torino] still have three games to play, three battle, if they are to qualify for the Europa League.“Lazio play Atalanta on Sunday and Torino have only lost once away from home [in 2019]. "They have their values and it is hard to score against them."e already know the winner for the weirdest injury of the offseason was Francisco Liriano, . But we're now into spring training, anLiverpool are eyeing Paris FC dynamo Silas Wamangituka.Jornal de Notícias says Braga, Liverpool and Barcelona are fighting for his signature.Wamangituka scored 11 goals this season. Claims from France state Reds officials have watched the 19-year-old in action over the past Ligue 2 season.Wamangituka is also interesting Olympique Marseille.d there's an early leader in the category: reliever .

    Here's one for the weird spring injury lists @: Peralta hurt his neck getting out of car when he stopped for sandwiches.

    — Marc Topkin (@Tared Marcus Rashford to Cristiano Ronaldo.Solskjaer wants Rashford to continue to develop his heading after he nodded home a fine goal in Thursday's win over Newcastle United."He is a physical specimen. He's looking after himself, working hard in theBTimes_Rays)

    Topkin later noted that the injury isn't serious and Peralta shouldn't miss any time at all. Also, the sandwiches were good. So all's well that ends well.

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  • Davey Johnson … Hall of Famer?

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    (US Presswire)

    Davey Johnson … Hall of Famer?The has indicated that next season will be his last as a major-league skipper. But regardless of how things unfold in 2013, Johnson should absolutely be awarded a plaque in Cooperstown. Consider this sampling of his merits:

    With a career winning percentage of .564, Johnson ranks 13th on the all-time list (minimum 1,000 games managed).At 291 games over .500 for his career, Johnson ranks 18th all-time. The only names ahead of him who aren'ta deal for Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster.The Liverpool-striker-Rhian-Brewster-set-reunion-Swansea-boss-Steve-Cooper.html" target="_blank">Daily Mail says Swansea are confident of securing the loan signing of Brewster next month.The European champi in the Hall of Fame? Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre. In Johnson's 13 full seasons as a major-league manager, he's suffered exactly one losingint-Maximin and Jonjo Shelvey have stepped up their recoveries from injury.But Tuesday's FA Cup replay against Rochdale has come too soon for the pair.Bruce, who saw Paul Dummett and Dwight Gayle limp out of Saturday's draw at Wolves, has been booste season.He's led four different teams to postseason berths, and he won a World Series with the in 1986.Teams in the year immediately preceding Johnson's first full season on the job have an average winning percentage of .474. Those same teams in Johnson's first full season on the job have an average winning percentage of .550.

    Throughout his career, Johnson has had a long and proud history of "coaching up" his offenses, and that's had much to do with his success. On another level, few have been as successful in combining the power of statistics with a traditionalist's sense of the personalities behind those numbers.

    For whatever reason, Johnson has been deliriously underrfuture conduct after admitting breaching Football Association betting rules, reports BBC Sport.The 24 year old appeared in a TV advert for Colombian betting company Betjuego.In mitigation, Everton said defender Mina's "command of the English languageated throughout his managerial career. Perhaps his renaissance will fetch him a bit of the credit he deserves. And what he deserves is election to the Hall of Fame.

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  • Kansas City can be a baseball town, and ‘Bil-ly! But-ler!’ proved it

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    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- You know what, they do care.They care so much that they cheered as if he was the best player in baseball. They care so much that they stayed around for all three hours of one of the dullest All-Star Games in recent memory, happy just to get one more chance to cheer . . . Billy Butler!Maybe you don't care about Billy Butler. Maybe some of them didn't know they cared that much about Billy Butler.But you know what Billy Butler represented the last couple of days?He represented baseball in Kansas City, and the people here were going to show that they cared about it.So maybe damaged his ACL - likely ending a possible move to Bayern Munich, reports SkySports.Sane injured his right knee in the opening stages of City's Community Shield win over Liverpool at Wembley Stadium last weekend.City said the winger underwent testin they went a little overboard in their booing of , for the "crime" of leaving Billy Butler out of the Home Run Derby (after saying he wanted to pick a Royal). Hey, when you've been told for more than a decade that you don't matter to baseball, you don't want to be told it again for one more night.You can only hope that ownership understands the message of the last three days, of the overwhelming (and overwhelmingly enthusiastic) crowds for everything All-Star relatenho has put Troy Parrott on notice for their FA Cup tie with Southampton.The only recognised striker Spurs now have in their squad is exciting 17-year-old prospect Parrott, but Mourinho has previously admitted he is not ready for the step up to Premid -- and of all the cheers for Bil-ly! But-ler!"If they're coming final against Arsenal.The Blues are scheduled to meet New England Revolution in a charity match in Massachusetts on Wednesday May 15.The match at the Gillette Stadium has been booked in since March to raise funds for anti-semitism and discriminationout for the All-Star Game, they'll come out for a team competing for a title," Butler said when it was over.He couldn't give the Royals their first All-Star hit since Bo Jackson's big night in 1989. Butler went 0 for 2, making the Royals 0 for 12 in All-Star Games over the last 23 years.But Butler gave the Royals and the All-Star Game more than that. He gave them proof that Royals fans can be passionate.Believe me, players on both All-Star teams noticed the huge ovation Butler got during the pregame introductions. They didn't mind it, not at all. They love to see a home crowd give a player that kind of support."That was great," closer said. "I loved it."Perez got booed, which just showed that the fans were paying attention to a Royals-Indians incident earlier this year. players got booed (except for hometown favorite ), which just showed that there really is a traditional rivalry between the two Missouri teams.Yankee players got booed (and not just Cano), which just showed that baseball fans here are like baseball fans everywhere.But it was the ovation for Butler that resonated, just as it was the ovation for Royals prospect Wil Myers that resonated during Sunday's Futures Game."This has always been one of my favorite ballparks," pitcher said. "To come and see this atmosphere, that was amazing. This is a great baseball town. It'll be fun to come here in the future."That future is probably more about guys like Myers and guys like and than it is about Billy Butler.But Butler was the Royals All-Star, the Royals' only All-Star, so Butler was the one who got to experience what the rest of them may someday get to see for themselves."I had a blast," Butler said. "I'm very proud to be a Kansas City Royal."The Royals can be proud, too, but hopefully they got the message that the fans sent.Kauffman Stadium can be like it was this week. This can be a great baseball town.Just give them a reason.

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  • 2020 NFL Draft Wide Receivers Watch: Devonta Smith into the top 10 after historic performance

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    When you think of this Alabama receiver group, you think of Jerry Jeudy first, then speedster Henry Ruggs, then dynamic big recruit Jaylen Waddle. Then Devonta Smith.

    But the latter wideout just so happens to be leading the Crimson Tide in all major receiving categories at this point in time, and he was outrageous in the team's win over Ole Miss this past weekend. He's into my top 10 rankings at the position in this loaded class. 

    Here's the fifth edition of Wide Receivers Watch.

    1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: Stock Steady

    Jeudy had eight grabs for 84 yards against Ole Miss, on a day that belonged to his teammate Devonta Smith, who scored five touchdowns. He wasn't really needed against the Rebels but had a solid afternoon. 

    2. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: Stock Steady

    I don't know what to do about Oklahoma's offense. It's absolutely unreal. Lamb caught an in-breaking route with a bunch of Texas Tech defenders within a few yards of him but had the awareness to instantly cut away from the pack and scampered for a long touchdown. His second score came easy on a fade of against off coverage. Lamb's last score of the contest showcased his strength, as he made the catch with a defender draped on his back and shook him off and finding the end zone. The only major concern I have with Lamb is his inexperience against press coverage. 

    3. Tee Higgins, Clemson: Stock Up

    Higgins had six grabs for 129 yards with a score in the narrow victory over North Carolina. Two of those grabs were tremendous demonstrations of his body-control/high-point prowess. Another was a go route from the slot in which he had to contort his body back to the ball for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Easy hands catch for Higgins. 

    4. Henry Ruggs, Alabama: Stock Steady

    Ruggs left the game on Saturday with what Nick Saban later called a hip pointer. The good news is Ruggs returned to the field against Ole Miss, and his injury is not considered serious. He had one catch for 12 yards. 

    5. Laviska Shenault, Colorado: Stock Steady

    Colorado was idle over the weekend and plays Arizona at home Saturday.

    6. Ty Johnson, Minnesota: Stock Up, Slightly

    Johnson was instantly creative with yards after the catch on a catch early, and got good releases off the line all game. His touchdown was a glorious display of his ability to track the football into his outstretched arms above his heo Emmanuel Petit says Manchester United have long lost their fear factor.Petit's former side Arsenal are the visitors to Old Trafford on Monday night.The Frenchman told Paddy Power: "Since Alex Ferguson left I don't recognise Man United any more. Thead. He finished with eight grabs for 73 yards and the score. 

    7. Jalen Reagor, TCU: Stock Down, Slightly

    On the last play of the first quarter, Reagor fumbled a punt, scooped it up, made a few subtle cuts, then erupted down the field for a long touchdown. You do not want to see him in space. He only had one grab for 15 yards. 

    8. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State: Stock Up

    It was a typical day for the Oklahoma State offense. Chuba Hubbard ran wild, and Wallace made and outstanding catch in traffic down the field. The play came near the beginning of the second quarter and was on a throw down the sideline. Wallace tracked it over his shoulder and took a huge hit from the center field safety but hung on. Wallace is a big play waiting to happen. He finished this game with eight grabs for 145 yards, and is averaging 22.1 yards per grab. 

    9. Bryan Edwards, South Carolina: Stock Steady

    There were three occasions in which Edwards was relied upon on a third and manageable to pick up yards after the catch to get the first down off a quick throw. Being in that role is rare for a receiver of Edwards' size. He was missed after creating separation on a deep crosser and nearly reeled in a deep post. Decently pedestrian performance, but he wasn't a liability. South Carolina ravaged Kentucky on the ground. 

    10. Devonta Smith, Alabama: Stock Up

    11 catches. 274 yards. Five touchdowns. That was Smith's stat line inirement.The midfielder has remained a free agent since leaving Milan last season.He announced today: "I will stop here. I live in Milan with my family, what I will do now I do not know, I have to think about it. "Atalanta-Milan of May 13 2018 will re the Crimson Tide's demolition of Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon. Some of the scores were schemed up, relatively easy yards-after-the-catch runs, but Smith put his full repertoire on display and tracked one score beautifully down the field in tight coverage. While he's lanky, Smith is super smooth as a route runner, has reliable hands, and deceptive speed. 

    Honorable Mention: K.J. Hamler, Penn State

    The Nittany Lions throttled Maryland on Friday night, much thanks to their defense and the play of their skill-position weapons. Hamler had six receptions for 108 yards, including an electric 58-yard catch-and-run in which he bounced off a would-be tackler, flipped on the jets, made another defender miss then accelerated into the end zone. He's oign Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace in January.The Sun says United are leading the race to snap up the forward in a £70million-plus deal.Ivory Coast international Zaha endured a frustrating spell at Old Trafford after becoming Sir Alex Ferguson's nly a redshirt sophomore, but Hamler has flashed serious athleticism early in the 2019 season for Penn State. 

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  • John Harbaugh, Ravens want Lamar Jackson to try and avoid unnecessary hits

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    wheels were put on full display during the ' 23-17 win in Week 6 over the as the second-year quarterback rushed for a career-high 152 yards on 19 carries and added a touchdown to s Gareth Southgate says that he knew Mason Mount would be a star for the national team when he was only 16.The Chelsea midfielder is set to get his first start in their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.Mount will be in the team against the Czech Republiboot. While Jackson, who also completed 21-of-33 for 236 ya Roberts is in his plans.Roberts impressed during pre-season but Todd Cantwell's form in the Premier League had kept him out the sidelines.Farke said: “We totally believe in him or we would not have tried so hard to bring him in.“He is a brillianrds passing, found success on the ground, the Ravens brass is preaching risk vs. reward when he decides to go out and put on the burners. 

    "I'm impressed with his toughness, there's no question about that. The goal is not probably to take certain hits," head coach John Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference, via . "There were probably two in them there that I probably would've rather seen him not get hit on, you know? But I think we also have to acknowledge that those are going to happen throughout the course of the year — hopefully less rather than more.

    "You don't want a quarterback — I wouldn't expect him to be running that many times very many times this year; that's just the way it went."

    Of course, Jackson's legs are a weapon that Baltimore will want to utilize over the course of the year, but the sentiment behind Harbaugh's words is simply to try and limit injury risk. When Jackson does decide to tuck it and run, he opens himself up to vicious hits that normally elude quarterbacks.

    Baltimore is currently in the driver's seat in the AFC North race at 4-2 and Jackson is a prime reason because of it. He isn't spoken about in the same MVP discussions as , or , but he should be. He's completed 65.1% of his passes this season for 1,507 yards, eleven touchdowns, and five interceptions while rushing for 460 yards and two more scores.  

    Because of his importance to the Ravens offense, an injury to Jackson could be nuclear, so Harbaugh is illustrating that he'll need to figure out on the fly if the juice is worth the squeeze when he dechim Diaz is fielding loan interest ahead of the January market.Radio Marca says one of those clubs interested in the forward is Alaves.The Basque club see Brahim as the perfect player to play behind their two strikers Joselu and Lucas Perez.Alaves feides to use his legs instead of his arm. 

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