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Ligue 1 chief hit outs at La Liga's 'disrespectful smears' over Mbappe complaint
The chairman of the French top-flight has hit out at La Liga president Javier Tebas for describing Kylian Mbappe's new Paris Saint-Germain contract as "an insult to football" - by branding his complaints as "disrespectful smears".
Women's T20 Challenge: Velocity vs Trailblazers scorecard
Live scorecard from the final group game of the Women's T20 Challenge, as Velocity and Trailblazers try to book their spot in Saturday's final.
CL final predictions: Liverpool to win clean game at 9/2
Our tipster Jones Knows takes aim at the Champions League final and has built a 9/2 RequestABet with Sky Bet involving cards, corners and shots to ponder.
Hamilton explains 'intense' Monaco demands: 'I couldn't celebrate last win!'
Lewis Hamilton has opened up on the challenges and demands of the iconic Monaco GP, admitting he was too tired to even celebrate his last victory in F1's "most draining" race, which he describes as a "lottery".
Rogue Millennium raring to go as Oaks looms at Epsom
Tom Clover's Rogue Millennium is on track for her foray into Group company in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom next Friday.
Masekela given Derby go-ahead after passing stalls test
Andrew Balding reports Masekela on course to run in the Cazoo Derby having passed a stalls test following his withdrawal from the Dante Stakes at the start.
Pliskova stunned by wildcard and out of French Open
Karolina Pliskova, the eighth seed, has been knocked out of the French Open by a wildcard Leolia Jeanjean, who is playing in her first Grand Slam and spent five years away from tennis due to injury.
Ecclestone arrested in Brazil for illegally carrying a gun
Former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was arrested in Brazil late on Wednesday for illegally carrying a gun while boarding a private plane to Switzerland, local police said on Thursday.
Charles Schwab Challenge leaderboard
Live leaderboard from the PGA Tour's 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
Carra confident Liverpool will beat 'lucky' Real | Neville: Reds won't win
Jamie Carragher says he is "confident" that Liverpool will beat Real Madrid in Saturday's Champions League final as the Spanish side have "carried a lot of luck" to be in the showpiece event in Paris.
Gold Cup hero A Plus Tard crowned leading jumps horse
Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard has been crowned the leading Jumps horse in Britain and Ireland, according to this year's Anglo-Irish Jumps Classifications.
Senior PGA Championship leaderboard
Live leaderboard from the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Michigan.
Riakporhe title fight '100 per cent' next | 'He has three options'
Richard Riakporhe is a victory over Fabio Turchi away from a world title shot and has WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu in his sights, says BOXXER CEO Ben Shalom. 
Burke leaving Kilmarnock | 'I'm not ready to retire'
Chris Burke opens up on why he is leaving Kilmarnock after turning down a coaching role and says he hopes to continue playing next season.
Dutch Open leaderboard
Live leaderboard from the Dutch Open on the DP World Tour at Bernardus Golf Course.
Desert Crown camp happy with gallop ahead of Cazoo Derby
Connections of Desert Crown expressed their satisfaction after the Cazoo Derby favourite enjoyed an early-morning workout on the Watered Gallop in Newmarket on Thursday.
Salzburg midfielder Aaronson undergoes Leeds medical
Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson is undergoing a medical at Leeds ahead of a move to Elland Road.
Bronze to leave Man City this summer
England defender Lucy Bronze is to leave Manchester City at the end of her contract this summer.
Julian Alvarez scores six in one match - meet Man City's other new striker
A lot of Manchester City's transfer talk this summer will surround how Erling Haaland settles in at the Etihad Stadium - but let's not forget they have another young forward coming into the club.
Best bits: Why Christopher Nkunku is so in demand
Is RB Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunku the most in-form player in the Bundesliga?

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- Sean Beckwith
How far ahead of the curve is Errick Miron?

Remember when everyone clutched their pearls after Ricky Williams mimed smoking a joint on the sidelines of a Miami Dolphins game? It aged about as well as the “a college scholarship is more than enough compensation for student athletes” argument. Not only would America be richer had it taken Errick Miron’s…

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- Eric Blum
This looks like Connor McDavid’s time

This could finally be it. The NHL is starving for its next superstar. Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby’s first-round exits with Washington and Pittsburgh left a void for a television-ratings hockey juggernaut.

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- Sam Fels
Whatever sport the Heat and Celtics are playing, it’s trash

A lot of sports fandom and analysis is about feel vs. facts, which can go pretty haywire at times. It definitely “feels” like these NBA playoffs have been uniquely blowout-heavy, but it kind of turns out they haven’t been. There just hasn’t been any game-turning shots in the last minute or buzzer-beaters that we…

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- Jon Hoefling
You’ll never guess who’s receiving more MVP bets than Rodgers and Mahomes combined

The hype train for the 2022 NFL season hasn’t just left the station, it leapt off the tracks, burst into the stratosphere, and started singing a collection of Tupac’s greatest hits.

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- Stephen Knox
Not giving Kyrie Irving an extension makes all the sense in the world, except the Nets have little choice

Logically, it makes zero sense to give Kyrie Irving a long-term contract.

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- DJ Dunson and Andy Mills
Do you care about PEDs in sports?
- Sean Beckwith
If this is the price for a superstar quarterback, I’ll pass

I’m exhausted trying to think of ways to drive home the severity of the allegations against Deshaun Watson. The depth of his indiscretions and sheer volume of his accusers is hard to put into words. It’s one of those things that you need to see visually to contextualize just how many massage therapists (22 in total)…

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- Grace McDermott
At least Herschel Walker doesn’t offer thoughts and prayers — because he’s incapable of coherent thought

Well, if what you wanted from lawmakers in response to a senseless and sickening mass murder was a string of literal nonsense words, then you’ll be thrilled to hear that former Georgia running back Herschel Walker won his state’s Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat yesterday and then responded to the Uvalde…

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- Sam Fels
Real Madrid have more than just black magic against Liverpool

While four years is a long time in soccer, and teams can greatly transform a couple times in that timespan, Real Madrid and Liverpool look a lot like they did four years ago. Liverpool are still anchored by Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Andrew Robertson in defense and Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in…

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- Criss Partee
Does Deebo Samuel have an infatuation with Dallas or merely trolling to get what he wants?

Deebo Samuel might have 19 problemz, but his contract is the biggest one. In pursuit of a big-money extension or trade, Samuel is taking the troll route. Deebo was in Dallas for Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals, surely showing support for the Golden State Warriors, and was seen shaking hands with Cowboys QB…

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- Carron J. Phillips
Steve Kerr and the hopeful effectiveness of the ‘Angry White Man’

Thoughts and prayers are the worst things you can offer during times like this. The Bible says that faith without works is dead, which means that all those prayers are useless without legislation. And those thoughts? Well, just because people hope — or think — we can get back to the world we lived in before Columbine…

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- Stephen Knox
We have parity in the NBA playoffs, and be honest, it’s making you miss the 2017 Warriors

For those who were sick of the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James winning all the time, you finally have what you wanted in the NBA: parity. Going into the playoffs there were at least six teams who had a legitimate shot at winning the championship. But one question: has it been fun?

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- Eric Blum and Andy Mills
Sasha Banks & Naomi | What is WWE's endgame?
- Sam Fels
The Flames cost us a truly transcendent moment

The going story out there has been that the NBA Playoffs have been kinda trash. It’s easy to see why people think that, because there’s been a ton of blowouts, and neither of the conference finals has produced a close game in eight tries. What we want out of the playoffs are moments and performances we can recall from…

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- Jon Hoefling
At Last! The NFL’s Pro Bowl may be no more!

Yesterday we finally got news that the NFL is considering eliminating the Pro Bowl!

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- Criss Partee
It won’t matter whom the Lakers hire as head coach, they’ll find a way to screw it up

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently searching for a new head coach. Once they settle on a candidate, this will be the Lakers’ sixth full-time head coach since 2012. That’s shocking for a franchise that has won as much as the Lakers have in their history. But this coaching search feels destined for failure.

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- Eric Blum
'When are we going to do something!'

Two hours before his Golden State Warriors took the court in Game 4 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, Steve Kerr refused to answer basketball questions. The only thing on the Warriors head coach’s mind was the lives lost in a senseless mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas hours prior, 355 miles from where Kerr sat in…

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- Sean Beckwith
Nebraska football: Holding onto dead traditions since 1999

One of the saddest traditions in college sports is on hiatus as Nebraska football suspended its home game custom of releasing balloons after the first Husker score. For a long time, children could barely get to their seats before letting go of the plastic, red helium-filled orbs. Now, Big Red faithful can’t get rid of…

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- Grace McDermott
Twitter crowdsources Charles Barkley’s greatest hits

Charles Barkley: 11-time NBA All-Star, three-time gold medalist, and, uh, professional comedian? After a tweet this weekend about Barkley’s legendary sense of humor blew up, short, laugh-out-loud clips of the Inside the NBA analyst have started appearing in droves on Twitter. The original has over 3,000 quote tweets…

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- Jesse Spector
Is the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy curse real?

The Florida Panthers breezed through the first round of the playoffs and then got bounced from the second round so fast we barely had time for the annual discourse about the Presidents’ Trophy and whether it’s a curse for a team’s Stanley Cup hopes.

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Yankees 3B Josh Donaldson releases statement on situation with White Sox SS Tim Anderson
Last week, benches cleared during a game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees after Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson made an allegedly "racist comment" towards White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.
NHL Thursday: Bets for both playoff games
We've got a new day of postseason hockey, and we're back to two games on the schedule, a welcome sight. Let's dig into each game. We have a pick for winners in both, along with prop bets for the evening's action.
The best quarterback divisions in NFL history
With an aim to pinpoint when top talent crossed paths and when new arrivals created considerable depth, here are the Super Bowl era's best quarterback divisions. 
Report: Colin Kaepernick works out for Las Vegas Raiders
At the end of the 2016 season, Kaepernick became a free agent and hasn't been on an NFL roster since.
Blues force Game 6 with comeback win in overtime against Avalanche
The St. Louis Blues dodged elimination with a dramatic, come-from-behind victory in Game 5 against the Colorado Avalanche.
HC Kevin Stefanski didn't watch HBO show, insists Browns 'did a lot of work on' Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski insisted on multiple occasions in March they were comfortable with the club's controversial trade for star quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Yankees place OF Giancarlo Stanton on 10-day injured list with calf strain
The New York Yankees placed Giancarlo Stanton on the 10-day injured list due to a right calf strain, the team announced Wednesday.
U.S. Open champ Emma Raducanu staying positive after crashing out of French Open
Raducanu won the opening set 6-3 but then failed to produce answers as Sasnovich stormed back to close the 19-year-old out, 6-1, 6-1.
Washington HC Ron Rivera: Carson Wentz has 'done a heck of a job'
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera remarked that Carson Wentz was already creating a "vibe that you’re looking for" inside the locker room.
Nets unwilling to sign Kyrie Irving to a long-term deal?
Things appear to be going from bad to ugly for the relationship between the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving.
Buccaneers' Tom Brady: 'Reconstructed' knee has 'been really good'
Brady proved to be a Most Valuable Player candidate coming off last year's procedure.
PGA 2022: Charles Schwab Challenge betting guide
The Charles Schwab Challenge features a good field, headlined by top-ranked Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas.
The '10 All-NBA Team selections' quiz
In NBA history, 25 NBA players have made either the first, second, or third All-NBA Team 10 or more times over the course of their careers. How many of the 25 can you name in five minutes?
Blues HC Craig Berube addresses threats to Avalanche center Nazem Kadri
As the Blues prepare for an elimination contest, head coach Craig Berube took some time to address another story that has dominated plenty of headlines over the past few days.
Mavericks' Luka Doncic: 'I still believe we can win' Western Conference Finals
Dallas is the 147th NBA team to lose the first three games of a series in the playoffs, but none came back to win the series. Can the Mavs become the first?
Cardinals GM Steve Keim: Kyler Murray contract could get 'done this summer'
Murray has been absent from voluntary organized team activities, but Kingsbury recently said he expects his QB1 will attend mandatory minicamp.
Aaron Judge leads early 2022-23 MLB free-agent power rankings
Assessing the top of the 2022-23 free agent class at the quarter mark of the 2022 season.
Judge denies NFL's motion to dismiss Jon Gruden lawsuit
A judge in Clark County, Nevada, has denied the NFL's motion to dismiss former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden's lawsuit and force the case into arbitration. 
Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty to face live hitters Thursday
The St. Louis Cardinals might be close to getting their ace back. Flaherty was limited to 78 1/3 innings pitched over 17 games (15 starts) in 2021 due to an oblique injury followed by a shoulder strain.
Andrew Copp leads Rangers to 4-1 win over Hurricanes in Game 4, tying series 2-2
The New York Rangers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
- wwos
NRL larrikin's priceless exchange with club legend

Melbourne forward Brandon Smith, one of the most colourful characters in rugby league, delivered another priceless TV interview on Thursday night.

Speaking with former Storm teammate Cameron Smith after his side's win against the Manly Sea Eagles, Brandon dropped some hilarious calls at Melbourne's AAMI Park.

READ MORE: Fittler's Blues call after Haas saga takes twist

READ MORE: Aussie icon's surprising Champions League call

READ MORE: Roos coach hits out at 'substantially untrue' feud rumours

"Do you reckon your old skipper would have let you get away with that hair?" Nine's James Bracey asked Brandon, who's sporting a bleached-blond hairdo.

"Probably not, to be honest. He would have been jealous," Smith quipped to a barrel of laughs.

Cameron: "Very jealous".

Brandon: "There's a lot of hair still around here... it looks like it's making a comeback, actually".

Cameron: "Hey, Cheesey, Cheesey. That was a punishment, wasn't it, mate?".

Brandon: "Yeah, yeah, definitely. Me and (Cameron) Munster were 30 seconds late to a meeting. You know how the boys carry on, and you've got to roll a dice".

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

Cameron: "All the viewers, let's get one thing straight: that's not by choice".

Munster strips ball, snares try

Smith: "Do you reckon I look the grouse, or what?".

Bracey chimed in with a compliment for the Storm ace, who's set to depart for the Roosters at the end of the season.

"You always look the grouse, Cheese," Bracey said.

Cameron wasn't as kind.

"I like the natural colour, mate. Go back to the brown," Cameron said.

Brandon: "Thanks, man. I reckon you and Locky (Darren Lockyer) have been hanging out".

The Nine panel erupted in laughter.

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

- wwos
Sizzling Storm rediscover winning edge

Melbourne has shaken off its two-game losing streak in a 28-8 win over Manly, souring a gun Sea Eagle's milestone.

- wwos
Why this image has Joey fearing for Origin

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns is fearful NRL officials are unclear on the obstruction rule 12 rounds into the season.

The legendary halfback revisited his criticism of the Bunker following the awarding of a Cameron Munster try on Thursday night, taking aim at its lack of consistency and revealing he fears for State of Origin.

Johns was adamant that Melbourne fullback Nick Meaney had obstructed Manly No.1 Reuben Garrick as Munster sliced through the Sea Eagles defence on the left edge.

AS IT HAPPENED: Storm rout Sea Eagles in emphatic return to form

READ MORE: Joey axes mainstay in huge call on Blues pack

READ MORE: Aussie icon's surprising Champions League call

READ MORE: Roos coach hits out at 'substantially untrue' feud rumours

The incident came one week after Johns unloaded on a "laughable" decision to award the Broncos a try despite a clear obstruction.

That incident had experts and fans questioning what the exact rules were on obstruction, given the referee's explanation was nothing short of baffling.

On Thursday night in Melbourne, Johns couldn't understand why an obstruction penalty was not blown.

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

"I don't want to sound like a nark, but if they're going to be consistent, for the last few years that's a no-try," Johns said on Nine's coverage after the Munster try.

Coates flies high for Melbourne try

"We're coming into the biggest period of the year: Origin time. Whether there's been a change (to obstruction interpretations), I don't know. But if they're going to be consistent that's a no-try.

"That's a deadset no-try, because Meaney checks the fullback there, Reuben Garrick."

Game one of the Origin series will take place at Sydney's Stadium Australia on June 8.

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

- wwos
Aussie's heartbreaking answer to grim question

Elation quickly turned to dismay as top-ranked Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic was sent packing from Roland-Garros.

- wwos
Fittler's Blues call after Haas saga takes twist

New South Wales Blues coach Brad Fittler's hardline stance on not picking players engulfed in controversy could cost gun prop Payne Haas his spot for the State of Origin opener.

Fittler's preparation for the June 8 clash was rocked when it was revealed that Haas' management had on Wednesday asked the Broncos for an immediate release due to a pay dispute.

Haas is contracted to the Broncos until the end of 2024 at roughly $800,000 a year, but his management is insistent on a significant pay rise.

Brisbane denied the request and Haas will play for the Broncos in their clash with the Titans at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, but whether he's named in the Blues squad when it's announced on Sunday night is a precarious prospect.

READ MORE: Joey axes mainstay in huge call on Blues pack

READ MORE: Aussie icon's surprising Champions League call

READ MORE: Roos coach hits out at 'substantially untrue' feud rumours

Payne Haas

Nine rugby league reporter Danny Weidler explained how the fiasco could strip Haas of his Origin spot.

"He is going to be a centrepiece in Brad Fittler's team, but Fittler has always maintained he doesn't want any outside distractions in his NSW Blues team, and this is a massive outside distraction," Weidler said.

When James Bracey asked Fittler on 9News if the saga had put Haas' position in the squad "in jeopardy", the NSW coach did his best to dance around the question, but may have dropped a hint on his thinking.

"It's not ideal at all, and I know from Payne's point of view and Brisbane's... I'm sure they want to clear this all up and get on with it," Fittler said.

"They're having a fantastic season and they'd hate for this to hijack it."

Later, after Melbourne beat Manly, Fittler was asked point-blank on Nine's NRL coverage whether he would still pick Haas in his Origin squad.

"Absolutely," the coach replied.

Haas has become a crucial member of the Blues side since he made his debut in game one of the 2019 series.

Until news of his exit request broke, the 22-year-old was an undoubted selection in the Blues front row.

Payne Haas drops bombshell on Broncos

Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo, Jake Trbojevic and Daniel Saifiti are all front-row candidates for Fittler, but Haas is widely considered the key man of the Blues forward pack.

Brisbane captain Adam Reynolds said Haas would turn up for the Broncos' game against the Titans with the right attitude.

"I've spoken to Payne and he's assured us that he's playing tomorrow, and look, he's a professional and I know he'll do his job," Reynolds told Triple M.

"But obviously it's not the news you want to hear for someone who is an important part of your team, and fingers crossed that things get solved and that he's at the Broncos for a very long time to come.

"Payne is a professional athlete and there's no doubt he'll turn up ready to play."

Reynolds highlighted an issue with long-term contracts.

Isaah Yeo, Jack Wighton and Payne Haas celebrate after winning game two of the 2021 Origin series with NSW.

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

"A lot of players sign on long-term deals. Take (Selwyn) Cobbo for example looking at a multi-year deal," Reynolds said.

"The rise of these kids these days... they go from being 20 years old fringe first-graders to superstars of the game and they outgrow their contract pretty quick, so it's sort of a hard one to speak on.

"Payne is a great player who probably signed for a lot less than what he's worth.

"That's the risk you take with long-term contracts.

"The longest contract I ever signed was after we won the comp with Souths (in 2014), but I was well established then and basically the club knew what they were getting from me and what I could deliver for them.

"These kids coming into first grade... some have only played a handful of games and they're signing five-year deals and getting paid on potential, and they probably outgrow that sometimes.

"Maybe they might not live up to it, but it's a hard one because rugby league is such a brutal game and you can't play forever and obviously you want to make the most out of your career.

"It's a tough discussion the NRL need to have."

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- wwos
Cornes doubles down on criticism after 'bizarre' exit

Kane Cornes has refused to back down from his criticism of now-former Kangaroos list boss Glenn Luff, even after news emerged that his analysis of Luff's moves led to the recruiter's shock exit from the club.

With the Kangaroos sitting 17th on the ladder having won just one out of their first 10 matches this season, Cornes took aim at Luff and the recruitment team on Monday night's episode of Footy Classified for the Kangaroos' list composition.

"You can't pick players off a computer screen. That's what I'm saying," Cornes said of Luff, who comes from an analytics background having worked at the AFL's stats provider, Champion Data for two decades prior to his role at North Melbourne.

READ MORE: Kyrgios-Tomic feud explodes in ugly war of words

READ MORE: Aussie dishes up huge Roland-Garros upset

READ MORE: Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler clash over divisive NRL question

Merely 24 hours after Cornes' scathing assessment, Luff abruptly quit his post, with The Age's Caroline Wilson and Eddie McGuire both confirming that Cornes' comments had been the final straw.

However, Cornes refused to take a backward step from his initial assessment of Luff's performance as North's list boss, asking: "Why is he untouchable?".

Kane Cornes

"You're sad whenever anyone loses their job," Cornes told SEN SA.

"It's not a nice story, but this is the industry. We're critical of players, we're critical of coaches and conversely if you're Stephen Wells at Geelong and you have an unbelievable record, we'll pump you up. If you're Tim Lamb at Melbourne, if you're Jason Taylor at Melbourne, they're the two architects of that premiership list, and I've spoken about them at length before as well. It's just the way it works.

"I find it hysterical that someone has left their job because of one relatively … in terms of a hard criticism, that wasn't on the upper echelon, and he's quit because of that. It's bizarre."

Cornes also hit back at claims that someone at North Melbourne with an agenda against Luff had urged him to put the recruiter in the hot seat.

"There's not a leak to me," the Port Adelaide champion said.

Glenn Luff

"This is the bizarre thing about this story. I read in yesterday's Herald Sun, Jon Ralph wrote about this story as well, and he's alluded to the same thing.

"He said, 'Even if he (Luff) was already considering his future, the unfair hit job on some of the list team's draft picks this week must have had him wondering where that information came from'.

"Jon … this is where that information came from: the AFL Season Guide 2022. Just a little secret for any media or footy fans out there, you can actually scroll to the North Melbourne page, and you can go through every list decision they have made, every trade they've brought in, every draft pick they've made – and it makes for shocking reading.

"Now, if you're the list manager of a football club and you make that many errors on your list and players that you bring in like (Jaidyn) Stephenson and like (Atu) Bosenavulagi and like Callum Coleman-Jones are not getting a game for the 17th-ranked side in the competition, then we start to have questions.

Caro reveals Noble's big problem

"When you pick Will Phillips, who's a midfielder that's my height and there's 50 of them running around in the competition, over Logan McDonald, who took 10 marks and kicked 3.3 on Friday night against Carlton, I'm going to question your decisions.

"Now, if you're a list manager and you want to be anonymous, you're in the wrong game. So if Glenn Luff has walked away because of one reasonably benign comment – and it certainly wasn't a hit job and it certainly wasn't any inside information, as I said, the information is widely available in the Season Guide, that's where I got it from – you're in the wrong sport."

Luff was one of three members from North's staff to leave the club this week, joining long-time national recruiting manager, Mark Finnigan, and national recruiting officer, Ben Birthisel.

While Finnigan and Birthisel's departures were expected, North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio admitted the club had been blindsided by Luff's exit this week.

Ben Amarfio

"There are three different individual circumstances," Amarfio said.

"I don't want to get into too much of the detail, but what I will say is this … Mark has been with us for 17 years. He's a fantastic person, but he received a great offer. He received some security. We don't have that luxury to be offering fixed-term, long-term contracts to our staff. No one at this club has a fixed-term, long-term contract. Not me, not the coach. When you get an offer like that and you've done 17 years, you've got to put your family first.

"The same goes for Ben. Poor Ben has been stood down (during COVID-19), stood-up, put on part-time. He's been studying in HR, he gets a job in HR, he's got security, he's got a young family. It's a no-brainer.

"Glenn, well, we've all heard the noise about that. We were shocked about that and we were disappointed. I think there are a number of reasons why Glenn has left, and that (not feeling supported) is one of them."

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

- wwos
Aussie icon's surprising Champions League call

As Liverpool prepare for what could be another famous European night, Australian football icon Harry Kewell has offered an intriguing and surprising perspective on one of the greatest chapters in Champions League history.

Kewell played for Liverpool in two Champions League finals - the incredible 2005 comeback win on penalties against AC Milan and the 2-1 loss to the same opponent in 2007.

"We were unlucky in that game," Kewell told Stan Sport FC ahead of Sunday's (AEST) showdown between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

Watch football's biggest superstars in the UEFA Champions League final, streaming ad free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport. Start your seven day free trial here!

https://twitter.com/StanSportFC/status/1528684492319100928?s=20&t=FBQ4th_5ZGOIt6qTDfqM6w

"I actually think AC Milan should have won the 2005 one and we should have won the 2007 one."

Kewell started the 2005 final in Istanbul but succumbed to a groin injury in the first half.

"On a personal note it was a hard one for me to take," he said.

READ MORE: Kyrgios-Tomic feud explodes in ugly war of words

READ MORE: Aussie dishes up huge Roland-Garros upset

READ MORE: Johns, Fittler clash over divisive NRL question

"You work your whole life to play in these big moments and I did get injured and had to come off. But the great thing is that I play a team game. Individuals can win games but teams win tournaments and that night I saw my team do something special.

"It was unbelievable, I'll never forget it and I'm pleased to say I'm part of it."

While Milan gained Champions League revenge in 2007, this time it is Liverpool with a score to settle.

Champions League highlights: Liverpool vs Villarreal

The Reds have painful memories of the 2018 final which they lost 3-1 to Madrid in Kyiv.

Striker Mohamed Salah was controversially injured by Madrid's Sergio Ramos in that match and left the field in tears.

Winning the Champions League would be the perfect tonic for Liverpool after finishing second behind Manchester City in an epic Premier League title race.

https://twitter.com/StanSportFC/status/1528680793593155584?s=20&t=FBQ4th_5ZGOIt6qTDfqM6w

"We have our league to be part of every week and on rare occasions you can have the off game," Kewell said.

"But in European nights, in competitions in Europe you can't – you have to be at your best. It's a cup competition so you can't have nights off and I think that's why they are special, because it's do or die. If you don't perform that night you're out of the cup and you won't make the next one unless you qualify again.

"So it's important that you're playing at your very best every time you're playing in these tournaments."

https://twitter.com/StanSportFC/status/1528269428365795328?s=20&t=FBQ4th_5ZGOIt6qTDfqM6w

WHEN IS THE 2022 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL?

The 2022 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid will kick off o at 5am AEST on Sunday, May 29.

WHERE IS THE 2022 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL?

The Stade de France in Paris will play host to this much anticipated match. The stadium holds more than 80,000 spectators.

The last two Socceroos to play in and win a European final, Harry Kewell and Ajdin Hrustic, speak to Craig Foster, Mark Bosnich and Vince Rugari about making history, playing at the highest level and special European nights

https://omny.fm/shows/stan-sport-football/harry-kewell-and-ajdin-hrustic-on-making-european/embed?style=cover

HOW TO WATCH THE 2022 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL IN AUSTRALIA

Club football's biggest game will be live and free on 9Gem and streamed ad-free on Stan Sport from 4.30am AEST on Sunday, May 29.

In the studio to cover the action hosted by Max Rushden will be Socceroos legends and Stan Sport expert commentators Mark Bosnich and Craig Foster.

On the ground in Paris will be English football presenter Mark Pougatch and La Liga TV host Semra Hunter, with studio crosses from European football expert Lars Sivertsen.

Early rising fans seeking a communal football experience can head to Melbourne's Federation Square for Stan Sport's special live site for the big match.

https://twitter.com/Craig_Foster/status/1529231913155981312?s=20&t=FBQ4th_5ZGOIt6qTDfqM6w

LIVERPOOL AND REAL MADRID TEAM NEWS

The official UEFA website has put together its 'possible' starting XI for both sides.

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara is in doubt after picking up an Achilles injury at the weekend although manager Jurgen Klopp said he was set to return to training during the week after a "surprisingly good" prognosis from the medical staff.

Fellow Reds midfielder Fabinho has also been battling a hamstring injury but has resumed training.

Klopp must also choose between Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip at centre back.

The red-hot Luis Diaz is pushing hard for a start up front ahead of Roberto Firmino.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, have a settled lineup although two goal semifinal hero Rodrygo has put his hand up for a place in the XI ahead of Federico Valverde.

Possible Liverpool XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Keita, Salah, Mane, Diaz

Possible Real Madrid XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Kroos, Casemiro, Modric, Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr

Champions League highlights: Real Madrid vs Manchester City

HOW DID LIVERPOOL AND REAL MADRID REACH THE FINAL?

Liverpool topped Group B by winning all six of its pool games.

The Reds then knocked out Inter Milan in the round of 16 (2-1 on aggregate), Benfica in the quarterfinals (6-4 on aggregate) and Villarreal in the semifinals (5-2 on aggregate).

Real Madrid, meanwhile, had a wild ride to the final.

Carlo Ancelotti's side topped Group D with just one loss before having to come from behind in all three of its epic knockout ties against heavyweight opponents.

Paris Saint-Germain (3-2 on aggregate) were the first victim in the round of 16 before defending champions Chelsea in the quarterfinals (5-4 on aggregate) and Manchester City in the semifinals (6-5 on aggregate).

HOW MANY CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TITLES HAVE THESE TWO CLUBS WON?

Real Madrid are easily the most successful club in the competition's rich history with a whopping 13 titles.

Liverpool are equal-third on that list with six trophies.

WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES FOR THE 2022 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL?

Despite Real Madrid's unrivalled record in the competition, bookmakers have installed Liverpool as hot favourites for the final.

As of Thursday, Sportsbet were listing the Reds at $2.05, Real at $3.40 while a draw after 90 minutes is paying $3.60.

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- wwos
NBA star's insane response to 'trash' comments

The Boston Celtics know the formula. They believe their defence, as has been the case time and again in these playoffs, will eventually wear down teams.

Hard to argue.

Jaylen Brown scored 25 points, Jayson Tatum added 22 and the Celtics are now one win from the NBA finals. They ran away after half-time to beat the Miami Heat 93-80 in game five to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals series.

READ MORE: Kyrgios-Tomic feud explodes in ugly war of words

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It was a sensational turnaround from Brown, who struggled mightily in the first half as his Celtics trailed by five points at the main break.

Jaylen Brown

The 25-year-old was widely panned on social media for his first-half turnovers, with 2008 Celtics championship-winner Kendrick Perkins even joining the pile-on.

https://twitter.com/KendrickPerkins/status/1529635323977793536https://twitter.com/ShannonSharpe/status/1529628878414548992https://twitter.com/VinceGoodwill/status/1529654516873801729https://twitter.com/JacksonSafon/status/1528199699634659328

However, Brown responded in stunning fashion in the second half, pouring in 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to help the Celtics edge towards their first NBA finals appearance since 2010.

“I think the mental stress and strain we put on some teams with our defence has worked and carried us through the playoffs at times," Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.

Al Horford had 16 points and Derrick White added 14 for the Celtics. Tatum finished with 12 rebounds and nine assists.

Jaylen Brown

Bam Adebayo scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Heat, who shot 32 per cent in the game — after shooting 33 per cent in Boston’s 20-point win in game four. Gabe Vincent added 15, Jimmy Butler had 13 and Duncan Robinson scored 11 for Miami.

The Heat were 7-of-45 from three-point range. They played without the injured Tyler Herro (groin), and several Miami players were questionable entering the day for a variety of ailments.

“We are not going to make any kind of deflection or any kind of excuse," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Boston beat us tonight. And let’s be clear about that. There’s guys that are far from 100 per cent on both sides."

https://twitter.com/jj_redick/status/1529656053964718080https://twitter.com/TimBontemps/status/1529655755888070657https://twitter.com/celticsblog/status/1529654772814467072

Game six is in Boston on Saturday, where a pair of trophies bearing the names of Celtics legends will be waiting. The Bob Cousy trophy goes to the East champs, the Larry Bird trophy to the East finals MVP, and the Celtics are one win from hoisting them.

“We've got an opportunity to do something with this group that's special," Brown said. “Let's not take that for granted."

This series has seen massive momentum swings — a 44-14 Miami run in game one, a 60-21 Boston run in game two, a 46-20 Miami run to open game three followed by a 57-33 Boston run in the same game, and a 26-4 spurt by the Celtics to open game four.

The game five run was just as big.

The score over a six-and-a-half minute stretch of the second half: Celtics 24, Heat two. The turnaround was 59-58 Boston to 83-60 Boston.

Jayson Tatum

“In the first half it was tough because we weren't hitting shots and we were turning the ball over," Horford said. “But the key for us was continuing to do what we do defending, and then on offence playing how we play. And eventually we were able to get it going."

Boston outscored Miami 32-16 in the third quarter, holding the Heat to 17 per cent shooting. The margin was only 11 at that point — but a 14-2 spurt was how Boston opened the fourth quarter, Brown capping the flurry by making three three-pointers in a span of two-and-a-half minutes, and the lead was out to 23.

Brown then sealed matters with a down-the-lane dunk with 5:19 left, the lead was 18 at that point and the countdown was on for Boston.

“We're still lining up," Adebayo said. “We've still got to play these games. We still want to win."

Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry

The Celtics haven't reached the NBA Finals since 2010. There have been four East finals trips since then, with two losses to Miami and two to Cleveland. There were also two chances like the one that awaits Friday — game six in 2012 against the Heat and game seven in 2018 against the Cavaliers — when the Celtics had a chance to claim the conference title simply by winning a game on their home floor.

They lost both, LeBron James serving as the official thwarter both times, with 45 points to save Miami in the 2012 game and 35 to lift Cleveland in the 2018 clincher.

He won’t be in the Celtics’ way this time.

Miami will need somebody to provide some semblance of an impersonation.

“We know what we're capable of," Butler insisted.

Jayson Tatum and LeBron James

Offence was in short supply in the first half. Miami led 19-17 after one and 42-37 at the break. Tatum was 1-of-9 at intermission, Butler 2-of-8, and the teams combined to shoot 37.8 per cent from the field and 21.6 per cent from three-point range.

Miami, somehow, got colder to start the second half. The Celtics did not.

The Heat missed their first nine shots from the field after the break, not getting anything to fall until Butler fended off contact and scored on a drive that got Miami within 49-48 with 6:53 left in the third.

But soon, the Celtics had control. Of the game. And the series.

“If you want to break through and punch a ticket to the finals, you’re going to have to do some ridiculously tough stuff,” Spoelstra said.

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- wwos
'Disrespected' star wants out over $1M quarrel

Brisbane Broncos superstar Payne Haas has requested an immediate release from his contract with the club.

Nine's Danny Weidler reports that contract negotiations between Haas and the Broncos broke down on Wednesday night, and now the NSW Origin star wants to leave.

The 22-year-old is contracted to the Broncos through 2024, but knocked back a deal that would have made him the highest-paid front-rower in the competition, as he continues to battle with his former management agency.

READ MORE: Joey axes mainstay in huge call on Blues pack

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READ MORE: Aussie prodigy dragged into 'unbelievable' F1 spat

"This all relates to money, and he feels he's not getting the income he deserves from the Broncos," Weidler told 9News.

"If he's not the best forward in rugby league, he is certainly in the conversation. He believes he is worth around $1 million a season, he is not getting that at the moment from the Broncos.

"He has been in negotiation with the club, and he feels he is being almost disrespected by the Broncos. He has reached the end of his wick."

Weidler also revealed the drama may yet result in Haas being axed from New South Wales' Origin team, which will be named on Sunday evening.

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

"He is going to be a centrepiece in Brad Fittler's team, but Fittler has always maintained he doesn't want any outside distractions in his NSW Blues team, and this is a massive outside distraction."

The Broncos released a statement after the news broke.

"Payne Haas is contracted to the Brisbane Broncos until the end of the 2024 NRL Season. The club will not be entertaining a release," it read.

"The club remains in ongoing discussions with Payne's management about what the next phase looks like for him at the Broncos.

"That includes ongoing dialogue about an extension to his current contract."

Haas took to his Instagram account to give his two cents.

"All that matters is we got a game tomorrow night and all my focus is on that," he wrote.

"All I can control is giving my all tomorrow night for my teammates and you guys (the fans)."

https://twitter.com/kinson88/status/1529716368316440578?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Haas has taken legal action against Chris Orr and Pacific Sports Management, but now faces a counter claim in the NSW Supreme Court from his former manager, to the tune of more than $200,000.

As a result, Haas' lack of current representation has contributed to contract talks grinding to a halt.

Dolphins boss Wayne Bennett said he hadn't spoken with the wantaway forward, reports the SMH's Michael Chammas, but it's clear he'll have no shortage of suitors should he hit the market.

https://twitter.com/MichaelChammas/status/1529676314877530112

Meanwhile, Payne's younger brother, Klese, signed a full-time deal with the Gold Coast Titans this morning. There's no suggestion that his sibling will be heading down the road to join him.

Brisbane, for their part, have rejected the release request.

Haas hit the ground running in 2018, having a barnstorming debut game against the Rabbitohs early on in the year, before injuring his shoulder.

His star continued to quickly rise, being selected for the New South Wales team in 2019, despite having only played 10 NRL games.

That year he also won the club's Paul Morgan Medal, awarded to the player of the season - and repeated that feat in both 2020 and 2021.

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- wwos
Tips: Three factors creating Manly nightmare

Manly are in the midst of a nightmare run, having lost four of their last five games as well as their biggest star, who will miss the rest of the season.

Yet it's not the team's form or the absence of Tom Trbojevic that has Andrew Johns concerned for the Sea Eagles when they play the Storm on Thursday night.

No, it's the three factors that combine to make the Storm almost impossible to beat for any opponent.

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"I have a theory," Johns told Brad Fittler for Wide World of Sports' Freddy and The Eighth's Tips.

"You play Melbourne at home and it's wet and at night, Melbourne win. So for me Melbourne win and win well."

Fittler also tipped the Storm although he took a more methodical approach, listing the returning Melbourne stars as a contrast to the absence of Trbojevic.

Reuben Garrick of the Sea Eagles looks dejected after conceding a try against the Eels.

While the Storm are heavy favourites, they are in a rare rough patch having lost their last two games by whopping margins.

In what presented as an early showdown for the minor premiership the Storm were thumped by the Panthers 32-6, before succumbing in stunning fashion to the Cowboys 36-6 on Saturday.

Craig Bellamy's side has been undermanned through that period but should the Storm fail to turn things around with a statement win over Manly, their premiership credentials for this season will face their most serious questions yet.

Scroll below for the current leaderboard and Round 12 tips by Johns, Brad Fittler and all Nine's expert tipsters!

Nine's NRL tipping leaderboard.

Andrew Johns: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Raiders

Brad Fittler: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Dragons, Raiders

Johnathan Thurston: Storm, Cowboys, Broncos, Warriors, Tigers, Sharks, Dragons Raiders

Paul Gallen: Storm, Panthers, Titans, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Eels

Peter Psaltis: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Dragons, Raiders

Allana Ferguson: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Bulldogs, Eels

Billy Slater: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Bulldogs, Eels

Joey finalises his Blues team: Freddy & The Eighth - Round 12

Ruan Sims: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Warriors, Tigers, Roosters, Dragons, Eels

Michael Chammas: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Dragons, Eels

Dave Middleton: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Dragons, Eels

Darren Lockyer: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Bulldogs, Raiders

Mat Thompson: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Souths, Sharks, Dragons, Eels

The Mole: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Eels

Ben Glover: Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Eels

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

- wwos
Roos coach rips 'substantially untrue' feud rumours

North Melbourne has launched a fierce defence of under-fire senior coach David Noble, with the club's CEO flanking him during his weekly press conference in a show of support.

Noble has come under immense pressure to retain his position following the Kangaroos' 1-9 start to the season, which has come amid reports of player unrest.

The Kangaroos' struggles were exacerbated this week with the departure of three of the club's recruiting staff just days out from the mid-season draft.

READ MORE: Kyrgios-Tomic feud explodes in ugly war of words

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However, Kangaroos CEO Ben Amarfio poured water on suggestions that there were serious fractures within the club, saying the entire staff is united.

Kangaroos coach David Noble and CEO Ben Amarfio

"I speak to the players, our coaches speak to the players … the players are happy. They are happy. That's what they are telling us. They are highly engaged," he said.

"I can only go on what the players and the captain are saying to us. The coach has our backing, he has my backing, he has the board's backing and, as you've heard, he's got the players' backing. They're saying they're happy, they're saying he's created a great environment, they're saying they're enjoying coming here. He's our man."

Noble hit out at recent reports regarding his relationship with his players, labelling the stories "substantially untrue".

"I took this job on understanding that there would be difficult times. I'm here for the long haul. I want our club to be successful and strong," Noble said.

David Noble, North Melbourne Kangaroos coach

"All of the things that get misreported from outside, it's just not true … (things like) relationships between the players, relationship between the coaches, that I was directed by the club to apologise. They are all untrue. Substantially untrue.

"I wish people would stop reporting them, because they're not true. I don't know how many times I have to say it, that our players are engaged and our players are moving forward and our coaches are terrific.

"I've got a great relationship with our coaches in where we're going and I've got a great relationship with our CEO and the board, understanding exactly where we're going. For the last time, we are moving forward together. Yes, it's challenging. You know why it's challenging at times? Because building high-performance is difficult.

"Where we're building from, it needs to be rigorous. You need to have debate and you need to challenge. Players become unhappy when they're not in form and they're not in the team. We get that. We're clear with our information as to how you get better. But I'm here for the challenge and I'm not going anywhere."

Jason Horne-Francis

North Melbourne's prized No.1 pick Jason Horne-Francis has also been in the news this week after reports that he was spoken to after not informing the club about a trip to South Australia for Mother's Day.

Speculation is rife surrounding the 18-year-old's future at the club after he knocked back contract discussions until the end of the year, but Noble insists all is well.

"It's not an unusual situation for a first-round player to not sign his contract ... that is not an unusual circumstance. I'm sorry, but I don't see that as an issue," he said.

"The club didn't know that he went home. He didn't get into trouble, he wasn't suspended, we say down with him and said there's protocols because what happens if he's drug tested and we don't know his whereabouts, the club actually gets fined."

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- wwos
AFL CEO 'losing the hunger' for Tasmania bid

The AFL has been accused of attempting a "cold hard cash grab" after asking the Tasmanian government for $20 million-a-year to start up a 19th team in the Apple Isle.

Despite a major push from the Tasmanian government for the state to have its own AFL team, there has been little movement towards it becoming a reality so far in 2022.

According to The Age's Caroline Wilson, establishing a team in Tasmania has slid down outgoing AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan's list of priorities.

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"I fear that Gillon McLachlan is losing the hunger, losing the appetite for Tasmania," she told Nine's Footy Classified.

"He still has not met Jeremy Rockliff, the Tasmanian premier, since he became premier, and nor has (AFL chairman) Richard Goyder.

Gillon McLachlan

"This is a first-order priority and he has not seen that as a priority, and neither has Richard Goyder. The taskforce met in head office last Friday, no sign of Gillon McLachlan in that meeting."

Wilson believes the AFL is asking the Tasmanian government for overs in order to appease club presidents who "are turning on Tasmania".

"Colin Carter in his report said $7-11 million should be the government subsidy. The AFL have asked the Tasmanian government for $20 million a year," she said.

"The taskforce has put together a 10-year offer with a lot extra in the first year and around the top end of Colin Carter's numbers, the AFL is not interested.

"I fear this is a cash grab to get the presidents over the line with the AFL knowing it's an ambit claim and won't happen.

Eddie's solution to AFL's Tasmania problem

"If this doesn't happen, that's it, that's the end of Tasmania getting a team. That is the end of footy in Tasmania. It is that dramatic. Less players appearing, less grounds, the appetite will go. It's an impending sporting tragedy in my view, and a social tragedy."

However, former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire defended the AFL boss, saying the league's biggest priority was getting its next broadcast deal sorted.

"He's got one job to do - that's to close a deal on the TV rights because that pays for everything," McGuire told Footy Classified.

"I spoke to Gil tonight, he is flat out. He's got his tongue hanging out, he's working that hard at the moment. I'd tell you if I didn't think he was. If I thought he'd checked out, I'd say it."

Eddie McGuire and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan

According to McGuire, the $20 million a year is exactly what would be needed to establish a strong team in Tasmania.

"I think the numbers from Colin Carter's report were under," he said.

"I think that every time the AFL have pitched an expansion team they have been miles under in selling it to the presidents, and the presidents aren't going to cop it.

Footy Classified is now available as a podcast! Subscribe/follow via Apple, Spotify or Google Podcasts

"They are the figures - not if you want to, if you're hoping - they are the figures that will give you a chance of having a successful team in Tasmania, not another team that is getting beaten for the next 10 years. It has to be forever.

"I'll tell you what people are sick of in the AFL, all the clubs are sick of funding everybody else at the moment. Everyone's got to start paying their way in the AFL."

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- wwos
Heavyweights raise eyebrows with mass changes

NSW's hopes of continuing a remarkable Super Rugby revival have been boosted by the decision of Blues coach Leon MacDonald to name a second-string team for Saturday's final round clash at Sydney's Leichhardt Oval.

Young loose forward Anton Segner is the only Blues player to retain his place in the starting line-up from the side that beat the Brumbies in Canberra last weekend.

The ladder-leading Blues have already locked up top spot heading into the finals and so Beauden Barrett, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Rieko Ioane and company are all on ice.

Watch every game of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport. Sign up for your free seven day trial!

Beauden Barrett of the Blues celebrates with his teammates after kicking the match-winner

"We are in no way disrespecting our opposition," MacDonald said.

"We have a very healthy respect for the Waratahs and believe we have named a team able to perform to our standards against them."

The Waratahs have an 8-5 record under new coach Darren Coleman following last year's winless disaster.

READ MORE: Kyrgios-Tomic feud explodes in ugly war of words

READ MORE: Aussie dishes up huge Roland-Garros upset

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Sixth on the ladder, victory would give NSW a slim chance of hosting a quarterfinal but they are relying on both the Chiefs and Hurricanes to trip up.

The Chiefs are away to the Drua while the Hurricanes are visiting the Force.

Read on for all the latest round 15 team news.

Sean Maloney and Andrew Mehrtens look back on Super Rugby Pacific's Culture Round, discuss the best rookies of the season and give hilarious updates on the Weird Cat XV and Mystic Mehrts

https://omny.fm/shows/between-two-posts-1/bizarre-brendan-and-mega-pints-of-wine/embed?style=cover

CRUSADERS vs REDS, Friday 5.35pm AEST in Christchurch

CRUSADERS (15-1): Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Fergus Burke, Bryn Hall, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder, Pablo Matera, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett (c), Oli Jager, Brodie McAlister, George Bower

Reserves: Ricky Jackson, Finlay Brewis, Tamaiti Williams, Zach Gallagher, Tom Christie, Mitch Drummond, Chay Fihaki, George Bridge

REDS (15-1): Jock Campbell, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jordan Petaia, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, Lawson Creighton, Tate McDermott (c), Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Ryan Smith, Seru Uru, Feao Fotuaika, Matt Faessler, Dane Zander

Reserves: Richie Asiata, Harry Hoopert, Sef Fa'agase, Angus Blyth, Connor Vest, Liam Wright, Kalani Thomas, Mac Grealy

DRUA vs CHIEFS, Saturday 1pm AEST in Lautoka

DRUA (15-1): Kitione Taliga, Ilaisa Droasese, Apisalome Vota, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Vinaya Habosi, Teti Tela, Frank Lomani, Nemani Nagusa (c), Rusiate Nasove, Joseva Tamani, Viliame Rarasea, Isoa Nasilasila, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, Zuriel Togiatama Haereiti Hetet

Reserves: Tevita Ikanivere, Timoci Sauvoli, Manasa Saulo, Chris Minimbi, Mesulame Dolokoto, Peni Matawalu, Caleb Muntz, Onisi Ratave

CHIEFS (15-1): Kaleb Trask, Emoni Narawa, Rameka Poihipi, Quinn Tupaea, Alex Nankivell, Bryn Gatland, Brad Weber (c), Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Samipeni Finau, Tupou Vaa'i, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Aidan Ross

Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, Atu Moli, Naitoa Ah Khoi, Kaylum Boshier, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Jonah Lowe

Tima Fainga'anuku powers his way through for a big try

MOANA PASIFIKA vs BRUMBIES, Saturday 5.05pm AEST in Auckland

MOANA PASIFIKA (15-1): William Havili, Solomone Kata, Levi Aumua, Danny Toala, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Christian Leali'ifano, Jonathan Taumateine, Henry Time-Stowers, Alamanda Motuga, Solomone Funaki, Sam Slade, Michael Curry, Sekope Kepu (c), Ray Niula, Abraham Pole

Reserves: Samiuela Moli, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Joe 'Apiokotoa, Sione Tuipolotu, Lotu Inisi, Manu Paea, Fine Inisi, Anzelo Tuitavuki

BRUMBIES (15-1): Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Andy Muirhead, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Pete Samu, Jahrome Brown, Tom Hooper, Nick Frost, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Connal McInerney, Scott Sio

Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, James Slipper, Sefo Kautai, Cadeyrn Neville, Rory Scott, Ryan Lonergan, Rod Iona, Hudson Creighton

Highlanders star banned for ugly tackle on Hooper

WARATAHS vs BLUES, Saturday 7.45pm AEST in Sydney

WARATAHS (15-1): Ben Donaldson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Alex Newsome, Lalakai Foketi, Dylan Pietsch, Tane Edmed, Jake Gordon (c), Will Harris, Michael Hooper, Charlie Gamble, Ned Hanigan, Jed Holloway, Archer Holz, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell

Reserves: Mahe Vailanu, Tetera Faulkner, Paddy Ryan, Hugh Sinclair, Jeremy Williams, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Jack Grant, Jamie Roberts

BLUES (15-1): Zarn Sullivan, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Tamati Tua, Corey Evans, AJ Lam, Jock McKenzie, Sam Nock, Taine Plumtree, Adrian Choat, Anton Segner, Josh Goodhue, Luke Romano (c), Nepo Laulala, Ricky Riccitelli, Jordan Lay

Reserves: Soane Vikena, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Marcel Renata, Sam Darry, Cameron Suafoa, Akira Ioane, Taufa Funaki, Nigel Ah Wong

FORCE vs HURRICANES, Saturday 10pm AEST in Perth

FORCE (15-1): Jake McIntyre, Toni Pulu, Byron Ralston, Richard Kahui, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa, Ian Prior (c), Jackson Pugh, Tim Anstee, Fergus Lee-Warner, Jeremy Thrush, Ryan McCauley, Santiago Medrano, Andrew Ready, Tom Robertson

Reserves: Feleti Kaitu'u, Angus Wagner, Bo Abra, Izack Rodda, Jack Winchester, Michael McDonald, Kyle Godwin, Brad Lacey

HURRICANES (15-1): Josh Moorby, Wes Goosen, Bailyn Sullivan, Billy Proctor, Salesi Rayasi, Aidan Morgan, TJ Perenara (c), Brayden Iose, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Caleb Delany, Justin Sangster, James Blackwell, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Pouri Rateke-Stones

Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia, Tevita Mafileo, Blake Gibson, Ardie Savea, Jamie Booth, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Teihorangi Walden

REBELS vs HIGHLANDERS, Sunday 2pm AEST in Melbourne

REBELS (15-1): Reece Hodge, Lukas Ripley, Andrew Kellaway, Matt To'omua, Glen Vaihu, Carter Gordon, James Tuttle, Rob Leota, Brad Wilkin, Michael Wells (c), Josh Canham, Matt Philip, Pone Fa'amausili, Jordan Uelese, Matt Gibbon

Reserves: James Hanson, Cameron Orr, Cabous Eloff, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Joe Powell, Nick Jooste, George Worth

HIGHLANDERS (15-1): Liam Coombes-Fabling, Fetuli Paea, Josh Timu, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Rory van Vugt, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith (co-c), Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Billy Harmon, James Lentjes (co-c), Josh Dickson, Bryn Evans, Jermaine Ainsley, Andrew Makalio, Ethan de Groot

Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma'u, Sam Caird, Hugh Renton, Folau Fakatava, Vilimoni Koroi, Denny Solomona

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Murray rips holes in Wimbledon boycott talk

Amid rumblings of a Wimbledon boycott among the playing groups within the ATP and WTA over the axing of rankings points, two-time former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has clapped back at those who have expressed reluctance over playing at the All England Club.

The change by tennis authorities has prompted some players to say they may skip Wimbledon, with four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka among those declaring the tournament is "like an exhibition" without the chance to further their position in the rankings system.

Osaka claimed she is "motivated by seeing my ranking go up" and revealed she is "leaning towards not playing", while defending champion Novak Djokovic confirmed he will play despite losing 2000 points described it as a "lose-lose situation" as the topic dominated media gatherings at Roland-Garros.

READ MORE: Kyrgios-Tomic feud explodes in ugly war of words

READ MORE: Aussie dishes up huge Roland-Garros upset

READ MORE: Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler clash over divisive NRL question

Andy Murray

Murray is part of the ATP player council, which was collectively in favour of the ATP's decision to dump points. He said the tournament "will never feel like an exhibition".

"I'd hazard a guess that most people watching on centre court Wimbledon in a few weeks' time wouldn't know or care about how many ranking points a player gets for winning a third round match," Murray, who opted to miss the French Open to prepare for the grass-court season, tweeted.

"But I guarantee they will remember who wins. Wimbledon will never be an exhibition and will never feel like an exhibition.

"I follow golf very closely and have no idea how many ranking points the winner of the Masters gets," Murray added.

Tomic-Kyrgios feud intensifies

"Me and my friends love football and none of us know or care how many ranking points a team gets for winning the FIFA World Cup.

"But I could tell you exactly who won the World Cup and the Masters."

Watch Roland-Garros on 9Gem and 9Now or every match, ad-free, live and on demand with courts in 4K, on Stan Sport.

Murray was taken to task by former player Mardy Fish online, who declared that players care about ranking points because it's the lifeblood of their career. The Scottish star said everyone wants to play for points but "it's not the be all and end all."

"Do you think the top golfers would still play The Masters if there was no points? Would Mito Pereira rather have won the PGA championship and earned no points or finished 3rd and got however many ranking points he got?

"I could be wrong but I don't think any tennis player serving for a Slam title, any footballer taking a penalty in a World Cup shootout, or any golfer teeing off on the 18th hole of a major was thinking about ranking points.

"What's making them nervous in my opinion is the possibility of winning a historic/prestigious event in the sport they love and have trained most of their life for not the thought of ranking points. I think the player field at Wimbledon will reflect this."

Raging Rublev forced to apologise

In addition, the International Tennis Federation said Friday it would not grant its ranking points for the junior and wheelchair events at Wimbledon this year, explaining that "tournament organisers are not permitted to unilaterally impose entry criteria."

The US Tennis Association, which runs the US Open, has not announced a decision about players from Russia and Belarus; that tournament starts August 29.

"The USTA respects the difficult position that Wimbledon faced in its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players," spokesman Chris Widmaier wrote in an email.

"We also respect the grounds on which both the men's and women's tours responded, though we believe their decision to withdraw points from all those who play Wimbledon this year is disproportionately severe due to the extreme and unique situation Wimbledon faced when making its decision."

- with AP

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NZ great rips club's 'strange' $700k pay-out

Kiwi league legend Graham Lowe has called on the Warriors to give their beleaguered fans an explanation of the bizarre $700,000 pay-out to controversial prop Matt Lodge, after he walked away with a season and a half remaining on his contract.

The greatest coach in Kiwi history and a living legend in the game, Lowe has been stunned by the pay-out.

He said the fans deserved to know why the club would pay Lodge in full for a mutual split, leaving the Warriors to carry the burden on their salary cap until the end of the 2023 season.

READ MORE: Kyrgios-Tomic feud explodes in ugly war of words

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READ MORE: Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler clash over divisive NRL question

"Fans over here are a lot of things but they are league savvy," Lowe told Wide World of Sports from Auckland.

"They can smell a rat and there is something very strange about this.

"The fact the club gives a guy a $700,000 golden handshake when he walks out mid-season - there's obviously something more to it.

"From what I know about Lodge he is a fiery character and I can guarantee he's had a confrontation with either the owner (Mark Robinson) or the CEO (Cameron George).

"But how that entitles him to a massive pay-out that will impact on the Warriors' salary cap for next season is beyond me."

Matt Lodge has quit the Warriors mid-contract.

The club isn't saying anything about it which makes it even more mysterious.

"The fans deserve an answer," Lowe added.

"They are disenchanted with the club and the direction it has been heading for some time and little wonder when you see things like this happen."

Wide World of Sports reached out to the NRL to ask if the Lodge pay-out would be investigated by salary cap auditors but did not get a response.

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Joey axes mainstay in huge call on Blues pack

NSW legend Andrew Johns has locked in his preferred 17 for the first State of Origin game of 2022, with no room for Manly veteran Jake Trbojevic.

On his interchange bench, Johns preached loyalty for a couple of last year's heroes, opting to include Knights prop Daniel Saifiti and Dragons backrower Tariq Sims, despite patchy club form.

But there was no room for the Manly lock.

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"Daniel's been out of form, he's even admitted that - but I think the loyalty has to be shown to some players," Johns told Wide World of Sports' Freddy and The Eighth.

"He's done the job the last two, three years and I think getting into Origin could give him a really good boost, very similar to Tariq.

"I think Tariq has never let the state down, never let Freddy down, never let his teammates down, and he's a big match player."

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

Johns opted for the duo of Kotoni Staggs and Stephen Crichton in the centres, ahead of the likes of Siosifa Talakai, Matt Burton, Campbell Graham and Dragons star Zac Lomax.

Paul Gallen picked the same centre pairing as Johns in his NSW 17 for game one, selected for Wide World of Sports, while Phil Gould urged Blues selectors to give Burton a go.

"Right centre, I think he pretty much picks himself - Kotoni," Johns said.

"And then at left centre, even though he plays on the right, I think he can play anywhere, is Stephen Crichton."

Both incumbent centres, Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell, will miss the game through injuries - the majority of the rest of the team is more or less as you'd expect.

Joey finalises his Blues team: Freddy & The Eighth - Round 12

Coach Brad Fittler said that even if Souths captain Cameron Murray doesn't play this weekend for the Rabbitohs as he continues to work his way back from a shoulder injury, he would still be in the frame for selection if he was ready to go by the following Wednesday.

"We will be going on advice from Travis Touma, who's their [Souths'] trainer and our [NSW] trainer. He's a part of our plans, he's a really good player," Fittler said.

"There's a squad of 22 so there's a big chance regardless of what happens that he'll be a part of our 22."

Andrew Johns' full NSW team:

1. James Tedesco 2. Brian To'o 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Junior Paulo 9. Damien Cook 10. Payne Haas 11. Liam Martin 12. Cameron Murray 13. Isaah Yeo Bench: 14. Jack Wighton 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Tariq Sims 17. Angus Crichton.

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Zverev booed by crowd after ugly confrontation

Alexander Zverev has been booed by the Roland-Garros crowd after a heated exchange with his team during his five-set win over Sebastian Baez.

Zverev came from two-sets to love down for the third time in his career, but the third seed received an almighty scare from the Argentine, who is ranked 36 in the world.

Baez had a match point on Zverev's serve in the deciding set, but the German prevailed 2-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 in a epic that lasted three hours and 36 minutes.

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The wheels appeared to be falling off for Zverev early in the second set, after he double faulted to drop serve in the opening game. His second serve on break point was clocked at 210 km/h.

As he swapped ends he gesticulated and exchanged words with members of his team, including father Alexander Senior and new coach, Sergi Bruguera, a two-time champion in Paris.

Watch Roland-Garros on 9Gem and 9Now or every match, ad-free, live and on demand with courts in 4K, on Stan Sport.

The crowd on Court Philippe-Chatrier didn't take kindly to Zverev's antics, booing the German. Things went from bad to worse after that, with Baez racing to a 4-0 lead, with Zverev missing a straightforward overhead at one point.

"What is going on? Wow," said John McEnroe in commentary.

Zverev fought back to take the third and fourth sets comfortably, but Baez had the chance to close out the match when Zverev served at 4-5 in the fifth set. However, the Argentinian missed a relatively simple forehand return, allowing Zverev to escape.

Alexander Zverev during his second round match against Sebastian Baez at Roland-Garros.

He'll now face American Brandon Nakashima in the third round, who is enjoying his best run at a grand slam.

Zverev is on a collision course with teenage phenom Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter finals, a rematch of their Madrid final earlier this month, when the Spaniard dusted Zverev 6-3, 6-1 in just 62 minutes.

"I'm happy still being in the tournament right now," said Zverev.

"I was planning my holiday in Monaco, where I was going to go and who I was going to go with and that relaxed me, thinking about the beach.

"You just have to find a way."

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Langer hits out at 'politics' in CA board swipe

Former Australian cricket coach Justin Langer used a speech on Wednesday afternoon to criticise Cricket Australia's dismissive attitude towards former greats of the game, while also pouring cold water on the idea of ever coaching England.

Serving as the keynote speaker at a Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA event titled 'Reset 2022', Langer recalled a conversation with then-interim CA chair Richard Freudenstein shortly after he had parted ways with the national team.

"The first thing he [Freudenstein] said to me was, 'It must make you feel so good that all your mates are supporting you in the media,'" Langer told the crowd in Perth.

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Multiple former teammates - and legends of the game - had come to Langer's defence during the coaching saga.

"I said, 'Yeah it is, acting chairman, but with all due respect, those mates are also the all-time greats of Australian cricket," the former coach said.

"They are the fabric of Australian cricket. They are Australian cricket. They also work all around the world in cricket. So yeah, I'm glad my mates are looking after me'."

After coming into the job in 2018 following Darren Lehmann's resignation due to the ball tampering scandal, Langer said the final months had been among his best time as coach, even when you factored in the ongoing discourse about his future.

Justin Langer

"Ironically, the last six months of my coaching career were the most enjoyable period of 12 years of coaching," he said.

"Not only did we win everything, but I had energy, and I had focus, and I was happy — besides the bullshit politics."

The 51-year-old also scoffed at the idea of coaching the old enemy - a post he was repeatedly linked to in the immediate aftermath of his departure from Australia.

Langer said he had "never spoken to English cricket", barely being able to stomach the idea of coaching them.

"The thought of coaching England … mate!" he said.

Australia made Langer's temporary replacement, Andrew McDonald, the permanent coach last month, signing a four-year deal.

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Kyrgios-Tomic feud explodes in ugly war of words

The feud between Australian tennis stars Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic has intensified as both men traded insults on social media as the second grand slam of the year rolls on at Roland-Garros.

The ongoing fight had laid dormant for months until Tomic fired a shot on Wednesday, saying that Kyrgios had always considered him as an 'idol' as both players made their way up the tennis ranks as youngsters.

Earlier this year, Tomic poked Kyrgios by saying that he was better than the Australian Open doubles champion, leading to Kyrgios telling the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist to 'quiet down'.

"Better in what way? I've got a higher career high, more money, more wins and give back whenever I can," Kyrgios said.

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"It's time for Bernard Tomic to just quiet down. He ain't even playing anymore. I've got years left."

That response prompted Tomic to take his thoughts to Instagram, saying that Kyrgios was "in my shadows growing up".

"He knows he can't rewrite history. The records that I set when I was 16, 17, 18, and 19," Tomic.

"He's always been in my shadows growing up."

"That's why anytime someone mentions my name to him, it gets under his skin."

Kyrgios then hit back, posting a photo highlighting Tomic's recent poor form on tour, with a caption discrediting the fallen star.

"Bernard, I didn't realise it was this bad. I low key feel bad now," Kyrgios posted.

"Hit me up if you need me to help you remember how to play. Geezus.

"Let's not forget the time I payed (sic) for your flight home from Shanghai because you had no money.

"Hahaha re write history, you are the most HATED athlete in Australia. You are right, no one can take over that."

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Johns, Fittler clash over divisive NRL question

Rugby league greats Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns have butted heads over who they believe is the buy of the 2022 NRL season.

The pair had a back and forth on Wide World of Sports' Freddy and The Eighth after Johns deemed Brisbane halfback Adam Reynolds was "by a mile" the buy of the year.

Reynolds, who spent 231 games at South Sydney before joining the Broncos this year, has put his hand up for recruit of the year with Brisbane back in the top eight and firming for finals football after missing out the previous two seasons.

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But in the eyes of Fittler, the current New South Wales coach, he's tipped his hat to Sharks playmaker Nicho Hynes, with Cronulla sitting one spot higher on the table in fourth, based on for-and-against.

Hynes leads the league in linebreak assists with 13, while Reynolds has more try assists, sitting second among all players with 11.

Adam Reynolds, Nicho Hynes

TRANSCRIPT: Johns and Fittler debate who is the NRL buy of the year

Johns: Adam Reynolds by a mile.

Fittler: Nicho.

Johns: Come on, mate.

Fittler: Who's on top at the moment between those two teams on the ladder?

Right now, Cronulla [is fourth], in front of Brisbane [who are fifth].

Johns: Brisbane hasn't made the top eight, in how long - four, five years?

Fittler: They've got access to the biggest nursey in Australia.

Johns: But they were hopeless, they got the wooden spoon two years ago. Reynolds.

Fittler: Nicho.

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The Abu Dhabi Boxing Unity Event on Saturday night proved to be a big hit with fight fans, as some of the biggest names of the boxing and MMA worlds, including Floyd Mayweather and Anderson Silva, clashed in front of a sold-out crowd at the Etihad Arena on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. Boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather delivered a blockbuster performance while taking on ‘Dangerous’ Don Moore in eight rounds – entertaining fans till the very last second of the high-octane match. A jubilant crowd cheered on MMA legend Anderson Silva, Badou Jack and Delfine Persoon as they claimed their victories at one of the biggest spectacles of Abu Dhabi’s sporting calendar this year. The Abu Dhabi Boxing Unity Event saw two homegrown fighters Hany Atiyo and Bruno Machado compete with Badou Jack and Anderson Silva respectively while they represented the UAE – drawing epic support from an adrenaline fuelled crowd. Held as part of Abu Dhabi’s Summer Like You Mean It campaign, the action-packed fight night was organised at the electrifying venue on Yas Island, further cementing Abu Dhabi’s status as a leading sports tourism destination. Abu Dhabi has built up a world-class reputation in recent years for hosting high profile international sporting events, including UFC Fight Island in 2020 and 2021, the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, and the Indian Premier League, and the World T20 Cricket Championship. As part of its five-year partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA), Abu Dhabi will also be the first in the region to host the highly anticipated NBA pre-season games taking place this October.
Stoffel Vandoorne gears up for the remainder of the season and talks about his racing career. Storming to the top of the driver standings after picking up his first win of the season at the Monaco E-Prix, the Mercedes driver is now at the top of the Driver Standings after finishing ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne in second and Mitch Evans in third. The Monaco race weekend was a successful one for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, with Stoffel Vandoorne winning the race and Nyck de Vries securing further points and finishing in tenth place, giving the team a clear lead in the Team Championship with 120 points with Stoffel leading the Driver Standings. Winning in Monaco must have been something special—can you let us know more about your experience winning in Monaco as compared to the usual races? Monaco races are special in any series, and in any category. I’ve raced here in the past for a couple of different series, such as the World Series by Renault GP2, and Formula 1 as well. I won in the GP2 in 2015, which was quite a special feeling as well. Last weekend was my first win in Formula E, which was also my first one of this season, which makes it a very special one. I think this is definitely a race that everyone wants to have in their racing career, with all the hype around it as well as the circuit’s history. I was obviously extremely very happy and so was everyone in the team. What are your feelings on the upcoming race in Berlin? How do you like the Berlin track and what are your experiences so far there? Berlin is a home race for us, and I’m looking forward to being back on track. Berlin historically has been quite good to us. It’s where I had my first victory in Formula E. It’s also a very particular one. Maybe it’s because of the way the track is over there with the concrete–it’s on an old airfield. The concrete is very abrasive and aggressive, which means we need to maneuver carefully, and get the car in at the right window to be able to perform there. Though we’ve had some good races, we have also had some races where we have struggled a little. It’s a challenging race but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a track that suits me as well, and hopefully we manage to get it right again. Are there any tracks suited more for Mercedes in the remainder of the season? When you look at all the circuits that we have to race in, there are certain circuits where our performance has been stronger and yet other circuits where we have struggled. The championship is bit a different now with the different qualification format. It provides a little more opportunity to equalize the field and to play at the front. I don’t really know if there are any tracks in particular that suit us. It’s just the nature of the championship and the competition being so intense, that if you miss out by a tiny bit, it’s very easy to find yourself on the back foot. I believe it’s all about maximizing every weekend and gain an edge to fight at the forefront on any circuit. How important you think it is in the first half of the races to hold back and preserve that energy? Because in the last few days we’ve seen it, the drivers who actually hold back are the ones who end up winning the race. It’s always a difficult balance to make obviously because in an ideal situation, you don’t want to fight too much. But when you’re in the top position, you also don’t want to lose out on that position, requiring for you to strike a very delicate balance. For example, in Rome when I was leading the race and competing with Robin, we ended up wasting energy and then Mitch came through with the energy. I think it’s just the nature of the championship right now, where it’s so competitive, and it’s more about being efficient initially. Since Mercedes is going to retire from Formula E, do you believe you will be part of the team’s future plans once the season is over? There’s still nothing confirmed on the team’s side, but I think a lot of people know regarding what’s coming. From my side, I would say that there is a lot to analyse in terms of what the best and most competitive package will be, and there are quite a few opportunities out there. In the end, I have to decide what is going to be the best for my future and what is going to get me the most competitive package in order for me to be able to continue racing and winning the races, which is the most important thing for me. Coming back to Monaco, in recent times there was some discussion that Monaco should not be in the calendar anymore. What is your take on this, and could you please compare a little bit between Formula E & Formula 1?  I don’t know if I should be involved a discussion on whether Monaco should stay on in the calendar or not because ultimately, it’s not in my power. Though the hype and the iconic nature of the event makes it a great race and a great experience. Compared to Formula 1, I believe Formula E is better as in Formula 1, overtaking abilities are so limited and there’s not as much action. This year, Formula E has been quite a good race with a lot of overtaking at the front and a lot of changes for the lead. We had a great race here last year as well. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Stoffel Vandoorne (@svandoorne) Are you thinking about winning the championship this season, or do you think it’s still too early to say?  It is still way too early, though we are almost halfway through. In Formula E, things can change very quickly and turn around quite drastically, so I’m not really focusing on being the championship lead at the moment and just taking it race by race, which is what I’ve been doing since the start of the year. The key is to just be consistent, which will also enable me to score the points at every race. This is my main focus at the moment, and we’ll see where we end up later. I know a lot of people within the media would say that last year you drove well enough to be a world champion and it was only bad luck that prevented you from winning the title. Do you think last year you were good enough to be world champion and is that driving you this year? Yes, I think so. Last year was obviously quite a random season in terms of interpreting what happened. There were definitely a couple of occasions where I had my share of bad luck and lost out on big points during the default group qualifying formats. One of them was in Valencia, where I qualified on pole but then was disqualified, and there was the other race in Rome where Lucas had a problem and both myself and Nyck were out of race. This also happened in Rome, where I was leading the race and then got taken out. If you look at the gap in the end, I didn’t really need that much to just to jump to the top of the tables. This year, I want to leave no stone unturned as I just want to make sure that I do everything right from my side, and the things I have under my control.  You drove well in Rome as well. Can you talk to us about your team dynamics? We all have a very good relationship with each other and I wouldn’t say that anything has changed us, though I think Nyck is just going through bit of a rough patch. As it’s such a competitive championship, as soon as you’re not trying hard enough to put all of the little pieces together, it’s very likely to affect your standings a little bit. I think Nyck has got the speed; he’s got everything he needs to be fighting at the front again. I think he’s just going through a little bit of a tricky phase, but I’m convinced he will turn things around and strike back in his own way. Considering the success you have had in Formula E in the recent years, are you happy to be a part of this championship? Yes, of course. It is now my fourth season and I have been transferred to Mercedes since, and I think we’ve had a pretty successful time together so far. I think this championship is one of the most challenging one in terms of the drivers and how close the competition is. As a race car driver, you want to be in a very competitive championship because when you do well, it is very rewarding and gives you the best feeling. Regarding the Gen3, what are the features that you like the most and what do you like aesthetically? Well, there are always changes to the rules no matter what series it is, and it’s always quite interesting because the cars look very different. The Gen3 is quite a big upgrade on the technical side, with a lot more power. I think that some of the best things about the car is its performance, the handling and the feeling of the car due to the reduction in weight, which I think will be very noticeable to us drivers and will help improve the handling as well as the ability of the car. I believe the front region is also probably going to change a lot. I’m looking forward to trying it out, and although we are a couple of months away, I think we’ll get there quite quickly. It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to trying it out and experience the car’s performance for myself. Will you be racing at Formula E next year? If yes, what team will you be with? I want to be in Formula E next year, and that is my mindset for where I want to be in the future. Like I said before, there are a lot of changes happening within our own team at the moment, and the most important thing is to have a competitive package and a competitive car that will enable me to fight for victories and championships. Do you think that the entry experience in the category is important or the fact that everyone is starting from zero will be an advantage for the less experienced drivers? I think in Formula E, the experience is always important, though the fundamentals of it and the way you drive the car will be unchanged on the most part. The new rules level out the field a little bit. And I think it might be a little easier for the less experienced drivers to get up to speed and not have that delay, as there are so many new things that we have to learn about, though I still do think that experienced drivers have a bit more of an advantage due to experience. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Stoffel Vandoorne (@svandoorne) Mercedes joined Formula E a couple of years ago and managed to win the championship last season. How has the team evolved during the years from a technical point of view? There’s been quite a lot of changes in the four years that I’ve been with the team now. Obviously the first year we were a private team and back then, all the technical team was based in Germany for the first two seasons. This winter, it’s moved away from Germany, which again was a big change operationally as a lot of the personnel had to move from Germany. We had to rebuild a completely new simulator and it’s definitely not been an easy ride, but I think in terms of the mentality within the team, it’s been great. We have a very good team culture where everyone is accepting of mistakes, as we’re all human. This is one of the key points as to why this team is so strong. Whether it’s from a driver’s point of view, an engineering point of view, or strategy, mistakes happen unfortunately, but we’re not afraid to take them to the table, discuss about them and learn from them. How difficult is it to swap between the simulation for Formula 1 to Formula E and back? To be honest, right now it’s actually something that’s comes naturally to me. I think it was a little bit strange in the very beginning when I had just joined Formula E after leaving Formula 1. The Formula E car is very unique in terms of how you have to drive it, which didn’t feel natural to me in the beginning. I had to take a little bit of time to get used to the driving style and fine tune my own driving style. As I’ve now been in Formula E for a while, the driving feels very natural to me. What is the main difference in racing between you and your teammates and what is the secret to your success?  I don’t think there are any secrets to my success. Nyck has obviously been very successful in Formula E over the years—he’s one of the reference drivers and he had also won the championship last year. He’s definitely got a lot of speed, and we keep pushing each other very hard. For Nyck, things may not be going a hundred percent his way at the moment, though I’m feeling quite competent and I’m going to take advantage of that to do my best each race weekend. I want to get the best for myself and for the team and get the best result possible. I have no doubt that they’ll be able to turn things around and that Nyck will be striking back in his own way very soon. Would it be important for you to stay a Mercedes driver for a long time or would you be open to other teams / manufacturers? When I joined Formula E with Mercedes, I was imagining being with Mercedes and Formula E for a very long time. Obviously with the decision being made last year that they are leaving the championship, everyone knows that I have to look for a different solution for the next season. I would love to stay part of the Mercedes family as I have a great relationship with them and I hope to continue with them in some way or form.
Stoffel Vandoorne gears up for the remainder of the season and talks about his racing career. Storming to the top of the driver standings after picking up his first win of the season at the Monaco E-Prix, the Mercedes driver is now at the top of the Driver Standings after finishing ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne in second and Mitch Evans in third. The Monaco race weekend was a successful one for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, with Stoffel Vandoorne winning the race and Nyck de Vries securing further points and finishing in tenth place, giving the team a clear lead in the Team Championship with 120 points with Stoffel leading the Driver Standings. Q. Winning in Monaco must have been something special—can you let us know more about your experience winning in Monaco as compared to the usual races? Monaco races are special in any series, and in any category. I’ve raced here in the past for a couple of different series, such as the World Series by Renault GP2, and Formula 1 as well. I won in the GP2 in 2015, which was quite a special feeling as well. Last weekend was my first win in Formula E, which was also my first one of this season, which makes it a very special one. I think this is definitely a race that everyone wants to have in their racing career, with all the hype around it as well as the circuit’s history. I was obviously extremely very happy and so was everyone in the team. Q. What are your feelings on the upcoming race in Berlin?  Berlin is a home race for us, and I’m looking forward to being back on track. Berlin historically has been quite good to us. It’s where I had my first victory in Formula E. It’s also a very particular one. Maybe it’s because of the way the track is over there with the concrete–it’s on an old airfield. The concrete is very abrasive and aggressive, which means we need to maneuver carefully, and get the car in at the right window to be able to perform there. Though we’ve had some good races, we have also had some races where we have struggled a little. It’s a challenging race but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a track that suits me as well, and hopefully we manage to get it right again. Q. Are there any tracks suited more for Mercedes in the remainder of the season? When you look at all the circuits that we have to race in, there are certain circuits where our performance has been stronger and yet other circuits where we have struggled. The championship is bit a different now with the different qualification format. It provides a little more opportunity to equalize the field and to play at the front. I don’t really know if there are any tracks in particular that suit us. It’s just the nature of the championship and the competition being so intense, that if you miss out by a tiny bit, it’s very easy to find yourself on the back foot. I believe it’s all about maximizing every weekend and gain an edge to fight at the forefront on any circuit. Q. How important you think it is in the first half of the races to hold back and preserve that energy?  It’s always a difficult balance to make obviously because in an ideal situation, you don’t want to fight too much. But when you’re in the top position, you also don’t want to lose out on that position, requiring for you to strike a very delicate balance. For example, in Rome when I was leading the race and competing with Robin, we ended up wasting energy and then Mitch came through with the energy. I think it’s just the nature of the championship right now, where it’s so competitive, and it’s more about being efficient initially. Q. Since Mercedes is going to retire from Formula E, do you believe you will be part of the team’s future plans once the season is over? There’s still nothing confirmed on the team’s side, but I think a lot of people know regarding what’s coming. From my side, I would say that there is a lot to analyse in terms of what the best and most competitive package will be, and there are quite a few opportunities out there. In the end, I have to decide what is going to be the best for my future and what is going to get me the most competitive package in order for me to be able to continue racing and winning the races, which is the most important thing for me. Q. Are you thinking about winning the championship this season, or do you think it’s still too early to say? It is still way too early, though we are almost halfway through. In Formula E, things can change very quickly and turn around quite drastically, so I’m not really focusing on being the championship lead at the moment and just taking it race by race, which is what I’ve been doing since the start of the year. The key is to just be consistent, which will also enable me to score the points at every race. This is my main focus at the moment, and we’ll see where we end up later. Q. I know a lot of people within the media would say that last year you drove well enough to be a world champion and it was only bad luck that prevented you from winning the title. Do you think last year you were good enough to be world champion and is that driving you this year? Yes, I think so. Last year was obviously quite a random season in terms of interpreting what happened. There were definitely a couple of occasions where I had my share of bad luck and lost out on big points during the default group qualifying formats. One of them was in Valencia, where I qualified on pole but then was disqualified, and there was the other race in Rome where Lucas had a problem and both myself and Nyck were out of race. This also happened in Rome, where I was leading the race and then got taken out. If you look at the gap in the end, I didn’t really need that much to just to jump to the top of the tables. This year, I want to leave no stone unturned as I just want to make sure that I do everything right from my side, and the things I have under my control. Q. Will you be racing at Formula E next year? If yes, what team will you be with? I want to be in Formula E next year, and that is my mindset for where I want to be in the future. Like I said before, there are a lot of changes happening within our own team at the moment, and the most important thing is to have a competitive package and a competitive car that will enable me to fight for victories and championships.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) on Tuesday announced that the Atlanta Hawks and the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks will play in October’s landmark opening matches in the Arabian Gulf. A pair of historic preseason games are set to be held at Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, October 6 and Saturday, October 8, 2022. Franchises loaded with star names have been selected for the region’s first clashes. The Hawks currently feature two-time NBA All-Star Trae Young, 2020-21 NBA rebounding leader Clint Capela and 2018 NBA All-Rookie Second Team members John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic.  The Bucks currently feature two-time Kia NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, three-time NBA All-Star Khris Middleton and three-time NBA All-Defensive Team member Jrue Holiday. Added prestige is provided by the fact the two teams met in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, with the Bucks going on to win their first NBA championship in 50 years. “We have two great teams,” said NBA Europe and Middle East Managing Director Ralph Rivera during the unveiling at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai’s World Trade Centre. “The reigning NBA champions with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks, who played the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Final.” He added: “It’s the full NBA experience. “Yes, there’s great play by the best players in the world. The athleticism doesn’t get any better. “But the NBA is also about the entertainment in the arena. Whether that is our mascots, our hype crews… “It is a great experience for kids, as well. Then there is everything that will be happening in Abu Dhabi during the week outside the arena. “We’re going to have youth clinics, NBA Cares. There is going to be lots going on.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jr. NBA UAE 🇦🇪 (@jrnbauae) Tickets for The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will go on sale at a later date.  Fans can register their interest in receiving more information about The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022, including exclusive pre-sale access and additional benefits, by visiting NBA.com/AbuDhabi. The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will be broadcast live in the UAE and across the Middle East and North Africa on beIN SPORTS, The Sports Channel and NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live game subscription service.  The games will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories around the world on television, digital media and social media. The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 are part of a ground-breaking multi-year partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi that earlier this year saw the launch of the first Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, a youth basketball league for 450 boys and girls ages 11-14 from local schools across Abu Dhabi. The partnership also includes a variety of interactive fan events featuring appearances by current and former NBA players, a series of NBA FIT clinics promoting health and wellness, and an NBA 2K League exhibition event at Middle East Film & Comic Con. The partnership also sees DCT Abu Dhabi, under “Visit Abu Dhabi,” the tourism promotion initiative of the UAE’s capital city, serve as the Official Tourism Destination Partner of the NBA in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and China. “The games are extremely important to the growth of the sport,” Rivera said. “Being able to have games for our fans, here, in the UAE, but also the ability for fans in the region to be able to come. “Less than one per cent of our fans actually get to go to NBA games. They are watching them on TV. “Being able to have the games in the region, that’s priceless. Lifelong memories will be created. “Also, we’ll create new fans with the excitement of this, the visibility of this and the opportunity for kids to participate.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Abu Dhabi Calendar (@abudhabievents) More than 220 male and female prospects from the Middle East – including five players from the UAE – have participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) or NBA Academy, the league’s elite basketball development programs for top prospects from outside the U.S.  Since 2019, more than 500 boys and girls have also participated in the NBA Basketball School Dubai (UAE), a year-round, tuition-based basketball development programme for boys and girls ages 6-18. “We are thrilled to be hosting the UAE’s first NBA games in Abu Dhabi and look forward to welcoming the Atlanta Hawks, the Milwaukee Bucks and basketball fans from across the world to discover this incredible city and experience our authentic Emirati culture for themselves,” said DCT Abu Dhabi Director General H.E. Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry. “Basketball has the ability to unite communities, and the spirit of the game will be felt by players and visitors, both on and off the court. The unveiling of the NBA teams marks an important milestone in our wider partnership with this world-class sports organisation.” The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors, fuels economic progress and helps achieve Abu Dhabi’s wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organisations that define the emirate’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the emirate’s potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies and systems to support the culture and tourism industries. DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the emirate’s people, heritage and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought. For more information about DCT Abu Dhabi and the destination, please visit tcaabudhabi.ae and visitabudhabi.ae For Abu Dhabi Calendar, please visit inabudhabi.ae
The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced that a four-day Jr. NBA Europe and Middle East Elite Camp will be held at Stella Azzurra in Rome, Italy from Wednesday, May 4 – Saturday, May 7. The Jr. NBA EME Elite Camp will feature 60 boys and girls ages 13-14 from 25 countries across Europe and the Middle East where Jr. NBA programs currently operate, and will focus on positional skill development, shooting, and skills competitions, culminating with three-on-three and five-on-five competition. The camp will be conducted by NBA Basketball Operations staff and coaches from Jr. NBA leagues in Europe and the Middle East.  Former NBA and WNBA players and NBA Europe Ambassadors Anastasia Kostaki (Greece), Zaza Pachulia (Georgia), Vladimir Radmanović (Montenegro) and Ronny Turiaf (France) and former NBA head coach Ryan Saunders will also attend and coach the youth players.  Saunders will also lead an NBA Coaching Clinic for the Jr. NBA coaches and invited local coaches. “We are excited to host 60 of the top young boys and girls from across Europe and the Middle East at Stella Azzurra’s facilities in Rome,” said NBA Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations, Europe and Middle East Neal Meyer.  “The Jr. NBA EME Elite Camp provides a unique and exciting opportunity for these developing players to compete alongside their peers from other countries and learn from established coaches as they advance in their young careers.” “I look forward to seeing the talent on display at this camp from young hopefuls across our region,” said Pachulia.  “This kind of intensive basketball experience will be invaluable as they embark on the next stage of their basketball development.” “It’s a pleasure to help guide and evaluate these young players and support up-and-coming coaches as they strive towards the goal of becoming better players,” said Saunders.  “I know they will take away lessons from this camp that will help them continue to grow as players, coaches and people in the years to come.” The Jr. NBA EME Elite Camp will be supported by official NBA partners Nilox and San Carlo.  Nilox will sponsor the Shooting Challenge and the NBA Coaching Clinic, while San Carlo will sponsor a Special Olympics Unified Clinic and the camp’s Sportsmanship Awards. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jr. NBA UAE 🇦🇪 (@jrnbauae) The Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball program for boys and girls, teaches the fundamental skills as well as the core values of the game – teamwork, respect, determination and community – at the grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents.  During the 2021-22 season, the Jr. NBA will reach nearly 37,000 youth in 28 countries in Europe and the Middle East. Below please find the complete roster of the boys and girls participating in the Jr. NBA Europe and Middle East (EME) Elite Camp: GIRLS ROSTER: Last Name First Name Country Košáková Eliška Czech Republic Fischer Ella Julie Denmark Matthews Tamzin England Rugette Neve England Gardziella Anna Frieda Finland Badibanga Elikya France Foirest Louane France Tialadze Lizi Georgia Heide Maja Germany Schulze Lilli Germany Foniadaki Efthymia Greece Ophir Noam Israel Zilbershlag Maya Israel Baldassarre Francesca Italy Hassan Isabel Mohamud Mohamed Italy Haziri Malvina Kosovo Miscenko Sindija Latvia Mansour Jane Lebanon Mockevičiūtė Justė Lithuania Makuła Marta Poland Pop Silvia Maria Romania Gamal Fleur Scotland Radjenovic Kristina Serbia Mrak Eli Slovenia Lostal Moron Claudia Spain Nieto Morales Laia Spain Toribio Ada Spain Mingert Elsa Sweden Awad Thea UAE BOYS ROSTER: Last Name First Name Country Stampalija Toni Croatia Broda Jan Czech Republic Noorgard Noah Martin Denmark Ziegler Mads Nikolai Denmark Rugette Tejan England Towo-Nansi Aaron France Tatanashvili Saba Georgia Scheffs Jervis Germany Tsipourlianos Georgios Greece Saghy Tamas Hungary Hitkes Noam Israel Shmuel Aronov Aviv Israel Pavese Riccardo Italy Kastrati Yll Kosovo Kudrjavcevs Raivo Latvia Nebhan Moujaes Kyle Lebanon Pakamanis Ernas Lithuania Štombergas Ignas Lithuania Sitkiewicz Karol Poland Radu Andrei Cepoi Romania Henderson James Andrew Scotland Kovač Vukašin Serbia Marjanovic Stefan Serbia Malovcic Tin Slovenia Doucoure Mahamadou Spain Maker Bol Paul Ater Spain Torrens Pau Spain Zurita Rueda Marcos Spain Abou Jaoude Patrick Samer UAE Albora Ali UAE Balde Isaias Wales
The future of all-electric high-performance motorsport has been revealed by Formula E and the FIA at the Yacht Club de Monaco where the third-generation Formula E race car was officially unveiled to the public. The Gen3 is the world’s first race car designed and optimised specifically for street racing. It will debut in Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, where some of the world’s greatest manufacturers race wheel-to-wheel on the streets of iconic global cities. Developed by engineers and sustainability experts at the FIA and Formula E, the Gen3 is the pinnacle of high performance, efficiency and sustainability. Designed to show the world that high performance and sustainability can powerfully co-exist without compromise, the Gen3 pioneers cutting-edge technologies that will make the transfer from race to road. While aerodynamic development programs have been central to driving incremental improvement in motorsport for decades, the launch of the Gen3 propels software engineering forwards as a new battleground for motorsport innovation and competition. Performance upgrades to the Gen3 will be delivered as software updates directly to the advanced operating system built into the car. Performance: Fastest Formula E car yet with a top speed over 322 kph / 200 mph. Most efficient formula racing car ever with more than 40% of the energy used within a race produced by regenerative braking. Around 95% power efficiency from an electric motor delivering up to 350kW of power (470BHP), compared to approximately 40% for an internal combustion engine. First-ever formula car with both front and rear powertrains. A new front powertrain adds 250kW to the 350kW at the rear, more than doubling the regenerative capability of the current Gen2 to a total of 600kW. Ultra-high speed charging capability of 600kW for additional energy during a race, almost double the power of the most advanced commercial chargers in the world. The first formula car that will not feature rear hydraulic brakes with the addition of the front powertrain and its regenerative capability. Every aspect of Gen3 production has been rethought, redesigned and rebuilt to ensure the car sets the benchmark for high-performance, sustainable racing without compromise. For example, natural materials have been introduced to tyres, batteries and bodywork construction with life cycle thinking at the core. Sustainability: Gen3 batteries are among the most advanced, sustainable batteries ever made consisting of sustainably-sourced minerals while battery cells will be reused and recycled at end of life. Linen and recycled carbon fibre will be used in bodywork construction for the first time in a formula car featuring recycled carbon fibre from retired Gen2 cars and reducing the overall amount of virgin carbon fibre used. This will reduce the carbon footprint of the production of the Gen3 bodywork more than 10%. All waste carbon fibre will be reused for new applications through adoption of an innovative process from the aviation industry. Natural rubber and recycled fibres will make up 26% of new Gen3 tyres and all tyres will be fully recycled after racing. The carbon footprint of the Gen3 has been measured from the design phase to inform all reduction measures taken to reduce environmental impact, while all unavoidable emissions will be offset as part of Formula E’s net zero carbon commitment. All Gen3 suppliers will operate in line with top international standards to reduce environmental impacts of manufacturing (ISO 14001) and be FIA Environmental Accreditation 3-Star rated.
Byblos Team won the second edition of the Lebanese Expats Basketball Championship, held in Dubai, organised by Sports Mania Dubai and under the supervision of Dubai Sports Council and UAE Basketball Federation. In a thrilling final game between Zahle and Byblos hosted at Al Wasl Sports Club, both teams showed great basketball level, high team spirit & sportsmanship. Team Byblos managed to grab the win with a final score 83 – 63. The champions won a Dh12,000 cash prize. Some of the game’s attendees were sports analyst at Dubai Sports TV Mr. Ashraf Samara, MEBS founder Mr. Mostafa Ezzedine, Owner of Ghost Honey Mr. Mayya Homsi, and Veteran players Tony Faddoul & Richard El Husseini. Individual Awards: –          Final Game MVP: Julien Khawaja from Byblos Team –          Best Scorer & 3 points shooter: Al Hassan Dandash from Zahle Team –         Best Stealer & Assist: Johnny Nemer from Beirut Team –          Best Rebounder & Shot Blocker: Will Bechara from Byblos Team –          Best Team Spirit: Tripoli Team Handed to Richard El Husseini _          Best Leadership: Charles Merhej from Byblos Team _          Most Improved Team: Team Baalbek _          Best Coach: Robert Bou Dagher, Byblos Coach _          Most Supportive Fan: Veteran player Tony Faddoul –          Championship MVP: Al Hassan Dandash from Zahle Team
With WrestleMania just around the corner, Sport360 caught up with Drew McIntyre and spoke about his thoughts ahead of the show of shows, and his aspirations for the future. Here’s what he had to say…. Q: What is the vibe like when everyone under the WWE umbrella manages to get together, in this case Dallas. How does it feel to have everyone back together? Drew: It’s awesome! It feels like the biggest reunion of all time, having everyone in the company back together again. Having all the fans traveling from across the world again to the same location and enjoying the thing we all love most is incredible too. Two years ago, we had an epic WrestleMania with nobody there, limited capacity and nobody traveling. But this year, we get back to normal with people from around the world, and potentially 100 thousand people going to be there each night over the weekend. I’m really looking forward to it. Q: You have been away from the title fight since losing to Lashley, so after WrestleMania, is that something that would be the goal again, to set the sights on a title? Drew: Absolutely. That’s the number one goal at all times! It’s been so long since I’ve competed for the Heavyweight Championship, so that’s definitely in my sights. When I was drafted to SmackDown, my eyes were on the Universal Championship right away. But I understood and was perfectly fine with doing whatever it took to get that opportunity. It’s not like Roman was going to jump up and offer it to me when he knows what I’m capable of these days – we all saw what happened at Survivor Series in 2020. When the whole family got involved, I got low-blowed and choked out. He’s (Roman) definitely aware of what Drew McIntyre is capable of these days compared to our battles in the past. And as I said, I’ll start from the bottom, fight everybody and I’ll work my way up. At this stage of my career I understand that I don’t need it all. Now, I am a 52 weeks-a-year product, I’m 36 years old. I’ve got plenty of years left in my career and I’ve just been biding my time, building my victories, waiting for my moment. We’ve got this huge match with Roman versus Brock in the title vs title match at WrestleMania and I can assure you, I’ve got my eyes on who’s going to win that match because I’m coming for them. Q: This is now going to be your seventh WrestleMania, and your resume at the show of shows is pretty damn cool. You’ve been the main eventer with Brock Lesnar, you were the first WWE superstar to perform in front of fans during the pandemic era when you took on Bobby Lashley. Even a Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania 26, so you’ve pretty much ticked off every major thing you can do at WrestleMania. Do you still get that excitement, that nervousness and those goosebumps during WrestleMania season? Drew: Yeah, for sure. I get the excitement and goosebumps for all weekend shows, even the ones that aren’t televised. So certainly, for WrestleMania, I mentioned already that now we’re getting back to the way WrestleMania is supposed to be. I know how many people are going to be there, I know our most passionate fans travel from all across the world to get together and bring that energy. I know how loud it’s going to be, so I’m absolutely buzzing to hear the excitement on the streets and feel the excitement in the arena. I don’t know, since I returned to WWE match wise, it might seem interesting, I wrestled Roman at my first WrestleMania and I’ve wrestled with Lesnar, Lashley and Corbin. A lot of people might say “well, one of these is not like the other”, but at the same time, as the rest of the matches were more about the glory and the championships. The contest with the big Roman, a top superstar, and maybe more so than the title matches. But with Corbin, it’s different, as he tried to take me out at the start of the year. This one’s personal and I’m very much planning to either, take them out quickly and embarrass them or drag the beating for such a long time and truly embarrass him. I’ve been studying is past matches including Brett Hart versus Stone Cold or The Undertaker vs. Sean Michaels. I’ve been studying Vince McMahon versus Brett Hart from WrestleMania 26 where it was just a really long, uncomfortable 40 minutes. Those are inspirations for sure. Q: It’s just recently past the second anniversary of the first lockdown across a large part of the world. For a lot of people, you’ll be a symbol of that period really thanks to your fantastic title victory. I know emotionally and in terms of the individual moment, it might not have been the circumstances at the title when you’d have imagined or you grew up dreaming about that moment. But it’s quite the legacy when you think about the mark that you’re leaving, isn’t it? Drew:I’ve talked about this a lot and it’s not what I dreamed about when I was a kid, because who on Earth would dream about winning the title and the main event in WrestleMania in front of nobody. Nobody could have predicted the times when we were going to be in, especially that specific moment, that specific time, that specific weekend when it was the height of the pandemic and everyone around the world was genuinely scared. We didn’t know what was going on. Every other sport entertainment company had shut down, but WWE pushed ahead. And I was the main event, you know, I was a part of the feel good story and could take people’s minds off of what was going on. And seeing the feedback meant the world to me. We really did make a lot of people happy and I know this because I saw the numbers going up 60% on social media from the prior year. I’ve talked to people countless times now, through virtual in person and I’ve had them tell me just how difficult things got for them and how the escape that WWE gives can literally save people’s lives. There were people in tears telling me that’s the stuff that makes me realize just how important what we did during that period was, and I’ll never take it back. I was very proud of it. In the end when WrestleMania comes and goes, people remember those moments from WrestleMania and if you’re lucky, people will continue to remember it for a few months. But the product keeps going, the machine keeps pushing ahead. Those moments may end up in a video package or on the network or on Shahid even, but the reality is nobody will forget the WrestleMania when the world stood still and that’s when Drew McIntyre won the title. Q: Aside from your own match, which match of the current confirmed WrestleMania card excites you the most? Drew: Well, there’s definitely a few. I’ve got my eyes on Brock Lesnar Vs Roman Reigns. Obviously, I want to see who is going to win that because then I’ll be gunning for them. We’ve got Charlotte Flair in the event too, and I know it will be amazing to watch because she always puts in some big-time performances on the biggest stage. She’s such an incredible athlete. Then she’s up against Ronda Rousey who is an unbelievable athlete, and she’s also thrived in those big time matches so that’s going to be fun to watch. For Becky vs. Bianca, Becky just did one of my favorite promos she’s ever this past Monday, on RAW, along with Bianca who’s come into her own and is such a superstar. She’s such a phenomenal athlete and so together those two will produce magic. Q: Regarding that title unification between Brock Lesnar & Roman Reigns from WrestleMania Sunday, who do you think we’ll come out with both championships? And would you like to face the winner for both titles? Drew: Yeah, whoever wins. I definitely want to face them but I can’t really predict who’s going to win. I have got history with both as I defeated Brock for my first WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36, although Roman has always been my Kryptonite and I have never been able to defeat him. I came close during Survivor Series 2020 champion versus champion, but the whistles got involved when the low blow happened. But Roman’s aware of what I’m capable of these days. I’m excited to see the winner and Brock’s not the same Brock he was – his cowboy Brock right now, is somehow more terrifying when he comes out and he smiles, and he has a good time. He just destroys everybody and runs into them and that’s even more terrifying than angry Brock. I’m curious to see who’s going to come away with a victory, and I’m going to watch it like everyone else as a fan. At the same time, after that match finishes, whoever is standing there with those two titles, I’m going to be gunning for them. Q: The main event for this year, Reigns Vs. Lesnar. It’s arguably the biggest match of all time and it seems as though all the other cards have been in its shadow. Do you believe you can get to that level and how do you plan on reaching that status? Drew: Yeah, I do believe I can get there. 100%. I could lie and say, “it’ll be this year”, but it wouldn’t be that because the level of superstars involved, the build-up to the match and just the years and years and years of equity that both Roman and Brock have. Honestly, nobody across any of the brands can touch that right now. It is genuinely the biggest match we might have ever seen. Right now, both titles are on the line. This build-up makes it the biggest match of all time and rightfully so. And when we look at all the attributes of both superstars, you can have a debate if there’s a match in the past that was bigger, but it would be a silly branding thing to see like the second biggest match all time. And it can be debate as the biggest match time because of the superstars involved because of the titles on the line. Obviously, I’m watching with everybody else, just not only, like I said earlier, to figure out who the winner is and who I’m going for, but also to figure out what I need to do to get to the level they’re both at. The progress I’ve made the past couple of years, I’m going to keep getting those reps and watch both those superstars’ study both of those superstars and figure out how they got to where they’re at right now. Q: What does WrestleMania mean to you and what are your expectations for this great event? Drew: WrestleMania means everything. It’s the biggest show of the year. It’s what we all work towards from the day after WrestleMania all the way through the year, hoping to stay healthy, hoping to be lucky enough to get a match on WrestleMania. It’s the dream for superstars like myself who always wanted to be in the WWE as a kid. Always dreamed of being part of WrestleMania in any capacity. Everybody including me is absolutely buzzing for this year’s WrestleMania. My expectations for the match are high. I obviously have been running my mouth about Corbin and all the horrible things I’m going to do to him, “I’m going to hurt him, and I’m going to embarrass him” but at the same time I could take a second to say some slight positives about him. Realistically, he is 6 ft 7’ tall and almost 300 pounds heavy. As a former football player, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. He’s got the experience now that he’s been around for a few years and the biggest thing of all is those physical attributes. Aside from the fact that he’s a terrible human being, as this confidence right now as “Happy Corbin” since he’s undefeated. There is a difference in his confidence because he is on a roll. His confidence is matching his physical ability, although he seems like he is afraid of Drew McIntyre, and there is always a danger as I am going in with a game plan. I am going to embarrass him, and I’ve got high expectations for after the match as well.  
Saed (male) & Phantom Bulls (female) teams were named winners of the Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five UAE tournament, which concluded the final qualifiers last weekend at Madar at Aljada, Sharjah’s popular entertainment destination. The Saed team defeated Paradise in the finals of the men’s tournament, while Phantom Bulls beat Dubai Women to become the UAE’s first female team to compete at the Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five world finals at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. in Praia Grande in Doha, Qatar. The seven members of the two teams, consisting of five main and two reserve players, have now received their boarding passes to the international tournament in Brazil later this year, and will have the opportunity to meet, and possibly face Neymar along with four of his superstar friends at the world’s largest five-a-side tournament of its kind. Powered by Arada, the master developer behind Aljada, the UAE edition commenced on 19 February, drawing participation from more than 2,000 football enthusiasts, who’ve played over 350 competitive matches in 14 qualifiers across the Emirates. All qualifiers across were held in line with the local health measures and restrictions to keep the community safe. Visit redbull.com/mea-en to read the latest articles, features and interviews with some of the Middle East and North Africa’s most promising personalities in music, gaming, active lifestyles, motorsport and more.
The joy of playing competitive basketball once again has lit up the Jr. NBA experience for so many participants. The landmark joint venture between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) tipped off on March 5. It will pit more than 450 boys and girls aged 11-14 from Abu Dhabi schools against each other until May 21’s Finals. This follows a lengthy spell where essential COVID-19 regulations disrupted youth leagues across the region. But the action has now moved into a third week at American Community School of Abu Dhabi and Mariam Eissa Al Khameeri, of New Orleans Pelicans/ADNOC Schools, was thrilled to be taking part. “It’s such a great experience for us, it’s something new and we haven’t played since the pandemic, almost two years ago,” she said after last weekend’s 10-6 defeat to Dallas Mavericks/Al Ain Juniors School. “It is something new and it doesn’t really matter if we lose or win, it’s just great.” Winners – across 72 games, including play-offs – will gain the chance to watch October’s ground-breaking live NBA pre-season matches in the UAE capital. Scouts will also select one boy and one girl to experience the basketball education of a lifetime at the NBA’s summer camp in Europe. One player who has shone already is Ahmad Awariani of Chicago Bulls/Cranleigh School. He gained the Player of the Match-honours when an 18-4 triumph was recorded versus Indiana Pacers/West Yas Academy. He said: “I have been working so hard for this opportunity. I have been training every day to improve myself and enhance myself more in the Jr. NBA and I actually won the MVP.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jr. NBA UAE 🇦🇪 (@jrnbauae) To keep up-to-date with events, head to Instagram and follow the verified @jrnbauae account. There you will find everything you need from match schedules, to results, action pictures and amazing videos showcasing the incredible talents on display. Use the following hashtags to join the conversation: #JrNBA, #NBAinAbuDhabi and #JrNBALeague.
- Mike Meehall Wood
‘Tremendous’ Munster stars as Melbourne bounce back with Manly win

Cameron Munster has powered Melbourne back to winning ways, scoring twice as the Storm defeated Manly 28-8 to kick off Indigenous Round at AAMI Park.

The five-eighth scored two classic Munster tries: one a dart from a scrum play, the other the result of a ball steal, a skill he has made his trademark in the NRL in recent years.

“He’s got a bit away from what he’s good at (recently),” said Craig Bellamy. “He went straight back to that tonight. I thought he was tremendous tonight – if he wasn’t our best player he was up there. When he plays well, we usually follow.

“Because the people playing Jahrome’s position haven’t played much with Munster or played in that position (at all), the combinations under pressure aren’t easy to come by. There was a few things with it.”

Cameron is the ultimate competitor and when things aren’t going for him, he probably tries too hard. He was tremendous tonight and having Jahrome back helped.

The Storm were in the unusual position of coming into tonight’s contest on the back of two consecutive thrashings, albeit with troops out and against tough opposition, and were in the mood from the off. Manly were also on the back of two defeats, but never looked likely against a Melbourne side in this sort of mood. Munster, ably assisted by the returning Jahrome Hughes, was too good.

Cameron Munster

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

This was a testament to the Storm machine continuing to function even without a few key cogs. They manipulated field position and possession, built pressure over time and had enough small moments of quality to win out in the end.

Everyone from number 1 to 6 got 100m with ball in hand, resulting in a 400m total running metre advantage. It wasn’t so much that Manly played badly: there was just no chance of them competing with a team this efficient.

“It was a couple of steps in the right direction,” said Bellamy. “I don’t think we were overly fluent with the footy, I don’t think Manly were, it was pretty slippery out there.

“I thought we competed really well. We didn’t seem to panic and showed a lot of patience.“We were pretty dominant in the first half and left a couple of tries out there, but I liked the way we started the second half, with intent in our running and desire in our defence.

“We scored early and our defence won it from there. We can certainly get better, but some of that lack of smoothness comes from the combinations – there’s a few out there who haven’t played much together.”

Manly didn’t help themselves with errors and occasionally leaky defence, according to coach Des Hasler.

“I was really disappointed with us tonight,” he said. “I was disappointed with our application. At 12-4, we weren’t in too bad a position, but we didn’t give ourselves a chance. We didn’t set up well, we didn’t execute well.

“Melbourne were a bit off tonight themselves and the scoreline doewsn’t reflect that. It’s about building pressure and field position. We didn’t give ourselves a chance, we inflict this on ourselves and that’s not good.

“It’s something that we need to fix. If you fix it, you’ll win footy games and particularly tight ones.”

The Sea Eagles also lost Dylan Walker, so often the spark plug, to a knee problem – he will join an injury list that already contains two Trbojevics, Martin Taupau and Brad Parker.

More League 'Tremendous' Munster stars as Melbourne bounce back with Manly win Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles: NRL live scores, blog NRL NEWS: Warriors defend Lodge's $700,000 payout, Hasler facing fine over ref rant The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 12 'Pony up': Broncos must do whatever it takes to keep Haas as Origin star requests immediate release League

The game started ominously for Manly. They nearly went behind in the third minute, with Felise Kaufusi scoring at the corner, but the bunker revealed a foot in touch thanks to a Reuben Garrick try-saver.

Not long after, the Storm did go ahead: Munster got his first, going over way too easily from a scrum play.

The pressure built and built with little respite, but the Sea Eagles defence was strong and, uncharacteristically, the Melbourne attack was slow. They missed men with passes and regularly ran behind their own decoys, slowing the attack down.

Though the Storm were not at their best in attack, they did the basics well enough to maintain pressure. When Manly got out, they fluffed their lines at the Melbourne end and failed to build their own attack.

More points were coming. Tui Kamikamica broke clear down the middle but was hauled down before he could reach the line.

MUNSTER ON FIRE ???????? Watch #NRLStormManly on ch.502 or stream on Kayo: https://t.co/vY0sHtEVj9✍ BLOG https://t.co/3OAJzrzMNw???? MATCH CENTRE https://t.co/g7H0bTx22m pic.twitter.com/NcHMK5Iu56

— Fox League (@FOXNRL) May 26, 2022

Eventually, Hughes created an opening with a deft inside pass to Chris Lewis that extended the lead. Manly fumed, as the play the ball that had preceded the score was incorrect, but out of the purview of the Bunker.

Instead, they responded to the injustice on the field. After finally managing to string some field position together, the Sea Eagles struck via a fluid backline move that had Jorge Taufua at the end of it for his first try in over two years.

Melbourne came out of the blocks firing for the second half. It wasn’t glamourous rugby league, but it was effective: they battered through the middle, sent up a high kick and Xavier Coates came down with it.

The next try was farcical: Munster had already stolen the ball once in the second half, pinching from Tolutau Koula to win field position and then from Jorge Taufua to waltz over the line.

Kenny Bromwich then added another from a deft Nick Meaney pass before Christian Tuipulotu grabbed one back for the Sea Eagles.

- The Roar
NRL NEWS: Warriors defend Lodge’s $700,000 payout, Hasler facing fine over ref rant

The Warriors have defended their decision to grant Matt Lodge’s release despite revelations the prop will be paid as much as $700,000 to not play for the team for the rest of this season.

Club owner Mark Robinson described it as “a simple business transaction” while CEO Cameron George .

Lodge was spotted playing rugby union for North Brisbane’s second grade team on Tuesday night with the side losing 27-14 to Bond. He didn’t just play a small cameo either with Lodge reportedly on the field for almost an hour.

Days after leaving the @NZWarriors Matt Lodge has played Rugby Union for North Brisbane's 2nd Grade side.Played 50 minutes at number 8 in a 27-14 loss.@FOXSportsNews @FOXNRL pic.twitter.com/SgFAO6Q8df

— Josh Bristow (@JoshTBristow) May 24, 2022

The 26-year-old doesn’t have a documented history in rugby union. An official code switch would be dramatic but not unprecedented. The fact he’s without a contract and played a club game seems rather curious considering the ramifications for his own future if he did get injured.

According to a Daily Telegraph report, he will pocket $700,000 from the Warriors after gaining his release last week irrespective of whether he ends up at another NRL club or elsewhere.

Robinson weighed in to say he’d had an argument with Lodge late last year and the prop never got over it, leading to his mid-season request to leave.

George initially refused to comment on the payout due to the agreement being confidential between the player and club. He then fronted the media on Thursday.

“I don’t know whether we ever moved on from it,” George said of their verbal exchange.

“Maybe he didn’t want to play for Mark Robinson any more. Mark has to accept that. Not every player does and will in the future.

“We just sensibly sat down and worked out a way forward and that’s where we landed (by buying out his player option). Matt’s really happy, I’m really happy and I’m happy because Matt’s happy.

“If people want to be here they’ll get rewarded and be looked after and if they wish to move on and we feel that’s the best thing for the club, we go in a separate direction.

“Absolutely don’t regret signing Matt Lodge. I got to know Matt quite well; him and his family are wonderful people and Matt’s a hardworking person.”

Robinson added: “He was unhappy so I bought him out of his option for next year and we parted ways. He didn’t like the club and he obviously didn’t like playing for Mark Robinson. I got over it, but I can’t answer for Matt Lodge,” Robinson said in the News Corp interview.

Panthers deputy chairman Greg Alexander on SEN Radio on Thursday morning could not believe the Warriors would dish out a small fortune to Lodge when he was only contracted for 2023 if he took up a player option in his deal. He had earlier rejected a three-year extension on the grounds that he did not want to relocate from their temporary base of Redcliffe to Auckland.

“We can’t get our head around why the Warriors have had to pay him out if he had a player option,” he said.

“They were prepared to sign him for another three years so it wasn’t as if they wanted to get rid of him. They wanted him for another three years and he said I’m not taking up that option, I’m not moving back to New Zealand, I’m out.”

Hasler ‘can’t remember’ ref rant as fine looms

Des Hasler is set to cop a hefty fine over his referee rant following last Friday’s dramatic loss to Parramatta and prop Josh Aloiai could also be sanctioned after doubling down on the Manly coach’s comments.

Hasler claimed the match officials had “legged” the Eels back into the contest in the lead-up to Will Penisini’s try a couple of minutes from full-time sealing a 22-20 come-from-behind triumph. 

In yet another strange Hasler moment, he claimed at his captain’s run media conference on Wednesday that he “couldn’t remember” what he’d said about the refs five days earlier and that he “wouldn’t have said anything controversial, that’s for sure”.

He said he had spoken with the NRL to clarify his points of contention and he had asked for inconsistencies around high tackles and offside rulings to be reviewed.

The NRL is set to hand down a five-figure fine to Hasler, who has a lengthy history of questioning the integrity of referees. 

While not wanting to discuss the specifics of Hasler’s case, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said referees needed to be shown more respect.

“It’s important for a professional sport for everyone – whether it’s the players, the coaches, the administrators, the fans – everyone needs to have a level of professionalism and a level of respect for the match officials,” he said while launching Indigenous Round.

“They’re not perfect, they do make mistakes and we have to keep it all in perspective.”

He added coaches and players “set the example for what happens across fields across Australia at a mass level. There will be decisions that go against you, I understand how much is at stake and the passion everyone has for winning. But I think everyone needs to accept there are things that we do say and can say, and there are things we don’t say.”

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler attends the 2011 NRL Grand Final Fan Day

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Hasler was furious over a late penalty against Christian Tuipolotu which preceded Parramatta’s final set. 

“It wasn’t high. It was a good tackle. It was a brave tackle. They’re called a try save. The idea of the game is defence and the idea of a try save is to come up with big plays,” he fumed in the post-match media conference.

“It was a great play. It just adds to the disappointment on the result on the back of a 9-2 penalty count. They got legged back into the game.

“Some very dubious calls … I’m sure Benny (referee Ben Cummins) will review his game.”

Front-rower Josh Aloiai on Tuesday told reporters at a Manly media session that: 

“I thought we were pretty hard done by, for the most part. The ref done us no favours, particularly in the back end of the game. I think he done a bad job and we didn’t get away with the win. So I’m pretty unhappy with him, to be honest with you.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 21: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves of the Roosters is sent to the sin bin by referee Gerard Sutton during the round 11 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Penrith Panthers at Sydney Cricket Ground, on May 21, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

****

Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves escaped suspension for his foul-mouthed blow-up last weekend and his coach Trent Robinson claimed frustration at referee Gerard Sutton was justified.

Robinson argued his star prop was a target for officials, and it was only his expletive delivery that let him down on Saturday.

Waerea-Hargreaves was sin-binned for twice swearing at Sutton in the Roosters’ 32-12 loss to Penrith, but the veteran forward was only fined $1800 after the Match Review Committee handed him a grade one contrary conduct charge.

Collecting James Fisher-Harris high as the Panthers prop crossed to score late, Waerea-Hargreaves exploded as he was called out to be placed on report and told Penrith would be awarded a potential eight-point try.

Abdo also rejected the latest installment of critics claiming the bunker should be blown up by saying “there’s not a professional sport in the world that doesn’t use technology to assist in getting the balance right between accuracy and continuity”.

He said the use of 360-degree angles from replays of multiple cameras gave officials a much better chance of getting decisions correct.

✍ Euan Aitken to add versatility across important positions to the Dolphins from 2023 #PhinsUp pic.twitter.com/6AA8sWE4II

— The Dolphins (@dolphinsnrl) May 25, 2022 Aitken opts for Dolphins

The Dolphins are continuing to build an impressive forward pack for their debut NRL campaign, adding Warriors second-rower Euan Aitken.

Aitken, 26, had already announced he would not head back to Auckland for the 2023 season and he won’t have to move far at all, remaining in the same Redcliffe base the Warriors have played out of through the COVID period.

He joins a Dolphins forward pack that already includes Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi.

Aitken, whose deal with the Warriors was initially due to expire at the end of next season before he secured his early release, said his decision was about putting family first.

“If it was up to just me I probably would have gone (to NZ) and seen out the contract because I do like the club, it’s got some great people and it’s got some great people running the place,” he told reporters.

“So there’s definitely some fond memories here and it’s definitely a hard decision to leave because there’s definitely great people and it’s going to go places in the near future.”

Dolphins chief executive Terry Reader said the 143-gamer’s experience would be vital in building the new club.

“Importantly, he is skilful enough to play either centre or on the edge at second row, and that is a valuable commodity in today’s NRL competition,” he said.

“He will also be able to bring some familiarity around our home base for our new squad after spending a full season training and playing there with his current club.

“Euan and the Warriors are currently three wins from three games at our home base of Moreton Daily Stadium this season – we hope he can see the same results with the Dolphins next year.”

It’s another blow to the Warriors’ forward stocks having cut prop Matt Lodge last week, although they will gain Newcastle’s Mitch Barnett in 2023.

They’ll also be without Chanel Harris-Tavita, who will take a break from the game after this season.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 15: Cowboys celebrate a Reuben Cotter try during the round 10 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium, on May 15, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Cowboys posse in mix for Origin selection

The Cowboys’ ladder surge has as many as 10 players in the mix for State of Origin selection.

Reuben Cotter, who will start in the front row against Penrith, and second-rower Jeremiah Nanai have reportedly caught the eye of new Queensland coach Billy Slater.

Experienced forward Coen Hess, whose last of six appearances came in 2020, is another hoping to hear from Slater when he settles on his 22-man squad after Round 12.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Valentine Holmes, Murray Taulagi, Heilum Luki and Tom Gilbert are also in Queensland contention while Reece Robson and Jordan McLean are outside chances to make the NSW squad.

“The club’s in a really fortunate position, I think we’re going so well that heaps of names are getting thrown into the hat which is really exciting,” Hess said.

“The way that I got selected in the past was just worrying about club form and playing well so that’s where my head space is at.

“Having had experience, if I was lucky enough to get selected I’d be more than comfortable doing my job.”

Preparing for an epic battle against Penrith, North Queensland are keeping the blinkers on rather than worrying about what the premiers may throw at them.

The Cowboys head to BlueBet Stadium on Friday night riding high after six successive wins to move to third on the ladder, while the front-running Panthers have back-to-back NRL premierships firmly in sight.

Hess has been tasked with replacing injured superstar lock Jason Taumalolo while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has come in for Kyle Feldt, who also has a knee injury.

More League 'Tremendous' Munster stars as Melbourne bounce back with Manly win Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles: NRL live scores, blog NRL NEWS: Warriors defend Lodge's $700,000 payout, Hasler facing fine over ref rant The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 12 'Pony up': Broncos must do whatever it takes to keep Haas as Origin star requests immediate release League

The pair went down early in North Queensland’s statement win over fellow heavyweights Melbourne last round.

Hess has been playing mostly as a front-rower this season but said he wouldn’t try to change too much at lock.

He said they would try to focus more on themselves than on their opponents after finding success in the method last round against the Storm. 

“I remember when we versed the Roosters (in round four), we were more worried about them where as going into the Melbourne game last week, we just focused on us and what we need to do well and executed that,” the 25-year-old said.

“There will probably be a similar thing going into the Panthers game.

“We know what they can do – they’ve got strike power all over the field and if you focus on too many of their players, you get caught up in what you’re doing.”

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- Danielle Smith
The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 12

Hey Roarers!

My goodness, Round 11 had it all. Upsets, magic moments, huge milestones, wonderful debuts, bunker blunders and terrible injuries.

Let’s recap……

I had so much confidence going into last Thursday night’s game, with Dane Gagai, Tyson Frizell and Anthony Milford lining up for the Knights, as well as Adam Reynolds being ruled out for the Broncos. Then the bunker came in and ruined everything! Credit to Brisbane, they played well without their star halfback and beat Newcastle 36-12. Selwyn Cobbo is just something else, isn’t he?! Adding salt to the Knights wounds was Bradman Best coming off with a dislocated elbow. 

On Friday night we had Spoon-Bowl between the Tigers and the Bulldogs at Leichhardt. Barrett was gone, Brent Naden swapped sides, the Dogs had the flu, and the Tigers were full of injuries. The home side won 36-22, Alex Twal celebrated his 100th game with a win and kept his try scoring tally at a zero (maybe that’s his plan?) and debutant Fa’amanu Brown grabbed a double. Not bad for a kid that was told years ago after a terrible injury that he would never play again. 

In the second Friday night match, Parramatta snuck home with a win for King Gutho in his 150th game, beating Manly 22-20 after a last-minute sideline conversion in the pouring rain from Mitch Moses. You could hear every heart on the Northern Beaches breaking – once for the score line and then again after the news of Tommy Turbo being sidelined for the rest of the season. 

More League 'Tremendous' Munster stars as Melbourne bounce back with Manly win Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles: NRL live scores, blog NRL NEWS: Warriors defend Lodge's $700,000 payout, Hasler facing fine over ref rant The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 12 'Pony up': Broncos must do whatever it takes to keep Haas as Origin star requests immediate release League

Super Saturday kicked off at Kogarah with the Dragons taking on the Warriors – minus Matt Lodge. (How considerate of him to send Nathan Brown a text message to say he wouldn’t be playing.)  The day began with the Red V paying tribute to the late, great Johnny Raper. Despite a last-ditch effort from the visitors, and a mixed day from Zac Lomax, the Dragons went on to win the game 24-18. And did Cody Ramsey just end the speculation of who should be the Dragons’ fullback? What a game he had!

Then we headed up to Townsville where the Cowboys had an absolute field day against the Storm and gave them a 36-6 hiding. Yes, Melbourne are missing some big names, but the Cowboys lost Feldt and Taumalolo early on, and never missed a beat. Everyone is loving the athletic and exciting footy they are playing – even Craig Bellamy was shouting something from the coach’s box that was a bit hard to translate, but I think he was saying how pleased he was to see how well Payten’s men are going. 

The Panthers showed yet again why they are at the top of the NRL ladder, making light work of the Roosters with a 32-12 win at the SCG. The Roosters tried hard and showed a few glimmers of greatness. The hit on Viliame Kikau from Joseph Suaalii was just beautiful, but all in all they couldn’t match the skill of Cleary and the crew. And Jared Waerea-Hargreaves got sin-binned for swearing at the referee – completely out of character. 

Isaah Yeo

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Where has this Canberra team been?! The Green Machine were firing on all cylinders against a lacklustre Souths in Dubbo on Sunday. Downing the Rabbits 32-12, the Raiders have turned a horror stretch around to now be just outside the top 8. Josh Papalii celebrated his 250th game with a win and a try, and young Xavier Savage showed he is a star of the future. 

The last match of the round started out as a real arm wrestle in the rain between the Titans and the Sharks on the Gold Coast. In the end a late field goal to please-leave-me-at-halfback-Nicho-Hynes gave Cronulla a 25-18 win. And Lachlan Miller, former Rugby Sevens Olympian, debuted for the Sharks at fullback and played like he had been there forever.

Ok, high five to AJ, who tipped the perfect round. We are all so happy for you and secretly resent you at the same time.  Paul was just behind with 7/8, Mary and you champions in The Crowd got 6/8 and Mike and I tipped 5/8. It’s no surprise AJ is out in front overall on 62, Paul is in second on 59, The Crowd in third on 58, Mary fourth on 57, with Mike and I hanging out on the golf course on 52.

Now, let’s look at Round 12, the very special Indigenous Round. 

Tonight, we see Manly travel to Melbourne to take on the Storm at 8pm at AAMI Park, home of the Wurundjeri people. Usually when these two teams meet we would be talking about and reliving the ‘Battle of Brookvale’, but instead we are talking about injuries and form. Surely the Storm won’t lose three in a row, would they? 

Tomorrow night at 6pm is the match of the round, where the Panthers host the Cowboys at BlueBet Stadium, home of the Dharug people. A phenomenal defensive side against a sensational attacking side. Feldt and Taumalolo are ruled out for this one, but the Lamborghini is back in the starting side. Can Hammer and the rest of the Cowboys stand up to the might of the Premiers?

Then we head up to Suncorp Stadium, home of the Yuggera & Turrbal people, for the local derby between the Broncos and the Titans at 8pm. The Gold Coast have shown a lot of heart the past couple of rounds, and Brisbane will once again be without Reynolds. Can they make it six wins in a row without him?

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Super Saturday kicks off at 3pm with…..a not so super match….. between the Warriors and the Knights from Moreton Daily Stadium home of the Yuggera, Jinibara & Kabi Kabi people. If you have nothing else on….I mean, like literally nothing else to do, then tune in. I will be of course (for the love of God please let us beat the Warriors).

Then at 5.30pm, the Bunnies host the Tigers at Accor Stadium, home of the Gadigal & Wann-gal people. Both teams are struggling at the moment, but the last few times these sides have met the games have ended in absolute thrillers. Could we be in for more of the same? 

To finish off Super Saturday, the Sharks and the Roosters battle it out at 7.305pm at PointsBet Stadium home of the Dharawal people. Both teams are hot and cold, this could be a real flip of the coin.

Sunday afternoon we see the poor old Bulldogs take on the Dragons at Belmore Sports Ground, home of the Dharug people. Can they Dogs give Mick Potter his first win in the hot seat? Or will the Dragons spoil the party?

Then at 4pm, the Raiders and the Eels round out Indigenous Round at GIO Stadium, home of the Ngunnawal people. If the Raiders of the past few rounds turn up, we are in for a real treat.

If you would like to see how you go up against the Experts this round, just remember to get your tips in below by 5pm tonight to be counted in The Crowd’s tips.

After his perfect tipping last round, I’m going to let AJ lead us off with his tips. 

Good luck with your tipping everyone!

SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Cameron Munster of the Storm in action during the warm up before the NRL Qualifying Final between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Sunshine Coast Stadium on September 10, 2021, in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

AJ Mithen

Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Dragons, Raiders My lead extends after a perfect round 11 as I charge to my third Roar Experts tipping win in four years*. Here’s what you need to know about this week’s games…

Melbourne will beat Manly even though they’re in a fitness hole. Harry Grant is dinged up but Jahrome Hughes is back. That and home base means you can’t tip Manly, who will at least try to make a game of it.

What happens when an immovable force meets an unstoppable object? Penrith’s defence outdoes North Queensland’s attack, that’s what.

Brisbane over the Titans but it’ll be closer than expected. Warriors over Knights just cos, really. South Sydney last chance against Wests Tigers. Sorely tempted to take the Tigers but Souths have better players, just maybe not a better attitude. 

I’ll take the Roosters over Cronulla, which seems a mild enough upset, the Dragons should do a number on Canterbury although they’ll have to fight for it early.

Finally, your presumptive champions, the people’s team, the Canberra Raiders will continue their roll to the top four by putting 56 on the hapless Parramatta Eels, who needed a most convenient sin binning to stagger past the decrepit Manly last week.   

*It may be 2 in four, but who’s keeping score?

Mike Meehall Wood

Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Bulldogs, Eels

Storm over Manly because I don’t tip against Melbourne in Melbourne.

Panthers over Cowboys, because I don’t tip against Penrith in Penrith (even though I wrote a whole column explaining how Parra were going to beat them there, and then didn’t tip it…)

Broncos are better than the Titans, because almost everyone is.

I don’t ever tip the Warriors, so I suppose it’ll have to be Newcastle. 

The Bunnies are my ride or die (see long column this week) so I’ll be taking them over the Tigers.

Cronulla v Roosters is a toughie, because I think both are good, so with no confidence I’ll tip the home team.

Back to Belmore and, like someone who knows no better, I’m going for the home win. Doggies for me.

Parramatta tend to go win-loss-win-loss, which would make this a loss, but I don’t think the Raiders are actually any good, so I’ll be taking Parra.

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Jake Arthur of the Eels catches a pass during the warm-up before the round eight NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at TIO Stadium, on April 30, 2022, in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Paul Suttor

Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Eels

Manly without Turbo will be added to the list of teams that Melbourne thrash at AAMI Park, do-dooo, do-dooo.

Penrith will account for the Cowboys, especially given Jason Taumalolo is injured.

The Titans will be up for the Broncos derby but even without Adam Reynolds the home side should get the win

The Warriors somehow manage to eek out wins over fellow dud teams so will probably beat Newcastle but Knights to win this one – not much of that sentence makes logical sense but neither do these two teams.

Souths have been a big disappointment this season but should be able to beat the Tigers.

Cronulla are still not an elite team, but they will get home against the Roosters, who are no longer title contenders.

Bulldogs v Dragons, yeesh. St George Illawarra, just.

Raiders v Eels has the potential to be a humdinger given Canberra’s recent revival but Parra by a whisker.

Mary Konstantopoulos

Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Eels

The poor old Manly Sea Eagles have been dealt a tough blow this week with the loss of Tom Trbojevic. Given his injury and that the Storm have uncharacteristically lost two weeks in a row, I am tipping the Storm in this one.

If you had told me at the start of the year that Penrith Panthers v North Queensland Cowboys would be one of the more anticipated games of the year, I would have laughed.  But here we are.  I’m going tip Penrith because they have been almost unstoppable this year, but I expect the Cowboys to go close.  After the Cowboys most recent performance against the Storm, I think we can confirm that they are the real deal this year.

The Broncos have been impressive in recent weeks and will beat the Titans.

I’ve almost resorted to flipping a coin for the next game. I’ve tipped the Knights because of the significant change at the Warriors this week, particularly around Matt Lodge. The Warriors position on the ladder right now is higher than I expected, particularly given the quality of their performances. The Knights have also been disappointing, so it was a hard game to tip.  

The Rabbitohs should beat the Tigers and I’m confident that the Sharks will register another win against the Roosters.

The Bulldogs have been appalling this year and I will tip them with caution. This game should be an easy two points in the bag for the Dragons.

I’m tipping my beloved Eels against the Raiders but given the Raiders form over the last few weeks it will be difficult. I’m hoping also that we see some improvement in the Eels edge defence with the return of Waqa Blake.

Clint Gutherson of the Eels warms up

(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Danielle Smith

Storm, Cowboys, Broncos, Knights, Tigers, Sharks, Bulldogs, Eels

I’m going to answer my own question from earlier – no, The Storm will not lose three in a row.

You cannot drag me off this Cowboy’s train! This will be a sensational game, and I’m going all in Cowboys. 

This one will be a really close one, but I’m tipping the Broncos to get the chocolates.

The Bunnies are just…not good. (Yes, that is a technical term.) Hastings has his BFF back in Brooks, so I’m going Tigers.

Ahh, my weekly back-and-forth tip. Ummmmm………Sharks

Don’t ask me why, you know how bad I am at this tipping stuff. Bulldogs in an upset.

This should be a really good game! I’m tipping the Eels, but not confidently. I would not be surprised at all if the Raiders went on to win this.

Blah blah blah, I’m forever loyal, blah blah blah…….Knights.

Round 12AJDanielleMaryMikePaulCrowdMEL vs MANMELMELMELMELMELMELPEN vs NQLPENNQLPENPENPENPENBRI vs GLDBRIBRIBRIBRIBRIBRINZL vs NEWNZLNEWNEWNEWNZLNZLSOU vs WSTSOUWSTSOUSOUSOUSOUCRO vs SYDSYDCROCROCROCROCROCBY vs STISTICBYSTI CBYSTISTICAN vs PARCANPARPARPARPARPARLast Week856576Total625257525958 if (!Element.prototype.matches) { Element.prototype.matches = Element.prototype.msMatchesSelector || Element.prototype.webkitMatchesSelector; } document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", function() { var request = new XMLHttpRequest(); request.open('POST', '/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php', true); request.setRequestHeader('Content-Type', 'application/x-www-form-urlencoded;'); request.onload = function () { if (this.status >= 200 && this.status < 400) { document.getElementById("at-submit-tips-inner").innerHTML = this.response; document.addEventListener('click', function (event) { if (!event.target.matches('.margin-tap-targets span')){ return; } var match = event.target.getAttribute('data-match'); var points = event.target.getAttribute('data-points'); var marginField = document.getElementById('at-margin-'+match); marginField.value = marginField.value*1 + points*1; }, false); } else { console.log(this.response); } }; request.onerror = function() { // Connection error }; request.send('action=at_insert_submit_tips&title=Your Tips&comp_id=12&round_id='); });

- Paul Suttor
‘Pony up’: Broncos must do whatever it takes to keep Haas as Origin star requests immediate release

Brisbane need to do what is ever necessary to ensure they have the salary cap space to keep Payne Haas at the club long term in the wake of his dramatic request for an immediate release.

If that means shedding players and replacing them with rookies or journeymen, then they should do it.

The Broncos are on a mission to rebuild their club and break their premiership drought which stretches all the way back to 2006.

They will not be able to achieve that goal without Haas, whether that’s this season, next year or when his contract runs out at the end of 2024.

Just like Glenn Lazarus was the foundation of their ascension to their premiership-winning glory days of the 1990s, Haas is the young forward spearhead who can fill a similar role three decades later.

It seems the Broncos and the entire rugby league landscape has been rocked by news breaking about Haas wanting out, first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Understandably, Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy rejected the request and after the club’s three-time player of the year trained with the squad on Thursday morning, he will take his place in the front row for Friday’s Suncorp Stadium derby duel with the Gold Coast.

Haas took to Instagram, posting a message to say “all that matters is we got a game tomorrow night and all my focus is on that. All I can control is giving my all tomorrownight for my teammates and you guys. Much love everyone always”.

The Broncos put out a statement on Thursday afternoon to say they “will not be entertaining a release. The club remains in ongoing discussions with Payne’s management about what the next phase looks like for him at the Broncos. That includes ongoing dialogue about an extension to his current contract.”

Conspiracy theorists are already reaching for their tin-foil hats after the Titans announced earlier in the day that they had signed his 19-year-old brother Klese on a full-time deal next season until the end of 2024 after impressing their coaching staff while playing for Tweed in the QRL’s Hastings Deering Colts competition.

Payne Haas of the Broncos

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

There has also been speculation bubbling away in recent months about the 22-year-old NSW and Australian representative, widely considered the best front-rower in the NRL, being a signings target for the Sydney Roosters.

They need to regenerate their forward pack with Siosiua Taukeiaho off to the Super League next year and front-row partner Jared Waerea-Hargreaves also in the twilight of his career.

However, Roosters chairman Nick Politis last month responded to talk that they were trying to lure Haas to Sydney by saying they did not have the salary cap space for a player who is likely to command $1 million per season on his next contract.

There should be 17 clubs getting out their spreadsheets, abacuses, stashes of poker machine money, trying to work out whether they could put a multimillion-dollar offer on the table for Haas.

The Dolphins are desperate for a marquee signing for their foundation season next year and Haas would certainly fit that bill.

They have plenty of money left in their salary cap for a star signing and a name like Haas would help the new club recruit other top-line talent, which has been an ongoing issue for the Redcliffe outfit in recent months.

More League 'Tremendous' Munster stars as Melbourne bounce back with Manly win Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles: NRL live scores, blog NRL NEWS: Warriors defend Lodge's $700,000 payout, Hasler facing fine over ref rant The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 12 'Pony up': Broncos must do whatever it takes to keep Haas as Origin star requests immediate release League

It is believed his current deal is around the $750,000-$850,000 ballpark for the next two seasons.

The Broncos offered him an upgraded extension until the end of 2027 late last year but Haas, who is now managed by former Kiwi international Tyran Smith, rejected the deal.

Haas changed management last year and has been agitating for an upgraded contract with the Broncos, believing he is being underpaid on his current deal which runs until the end of 2024.

He had been represented by Chris Orr but has been engaged in a legal battle with him in a bid to stop his former manager receiving commission payments from the six-year deal he signed in 2018.

The deal was signed the day before the NRL’s revamped player agent scheme was brought in, which allows players to terminate an agreement with an agent after two years as long as they give a three-month notice period.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Haas, who has played 70 matches for Brisbane since his debut as an 18-year-old in 2018, is a certain selection to play his eighth Origin for the NSW team when it is announced on Sunday night for the series opener against Queensland at Accor Stadium on June 8.

Put simply, there is no other young talent in the NRL who comes close to his ability to churn through metres in the middle of the ruck, play big minutes and get through a mountain of defensive work.

The Broncos cannot afford for yet another rising star to come through their ranks and then head off elsewhere.

In recent years they’ve seen David Fifita switch to the Titans, Reece Walsh join the Warriors, Xavier Coates head to Melbourne and Tom Dearden travel north to the Cowboys while teenage halfback prodigy Sam Walker slipped through their clutches to join the Roosters.

David Fifita of the Titans in action

David Fifita (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Fifita’s gilt-edged deal with the Gold Coast is reportedly worth $3.5 million over three seasons. The Broncos have to at least get near that kind of money for Haas. Yes, the Titans paid overs to pry him away from Brisbane but the market value for any player is whatever the highest bidder will spend.

Brisbane have a luxury item on their books in the form of Haas. If you want a Ferrari in your garage, you have to pony up. Having a Maserati won’t cost you quite as much but it’s just not the same.

The club has built some equity with Haas after standing by him after a couple of off-field incidents led to sanctions from the NRL Integrity Unit and he appears to have a strong relationship with coach Kevin Walters.

After collecting their first wooden spoon in 2020, they improved slightly to 14th after Walters took over last season but have stormed up the ladder this year to be fifth with a 7-4 record following the acquisition of key veterans Adam Reynolds and Kurt Capewell.

To keep their trajectory on an upward level this year and into the future, they cannot afford to lose a generational talent like Haas.

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- News
‘I was happy beside the bulls— politics’: Langer lashes CA over messy exit

Justin Langer has hit out at the “bull**** politics” within Cricket Australia, taking particular aim at interim Cricket Australia chairman Richard Freudenstein.

Langer quit as coach of Australia in February after being offered an insulting six-month contract extension despite guiding the team to T20 World Cup and Ashes glory.

A rumoured breakdown in the relationship between Langer and a core of senior players led to CA’s move to push the 51-year-old towards the exit.

A host of Australia’s greatest Test players, including Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Matthew Hayden and the late Shane Warne, lambasted CA for the way it treated Langer.

The anger Langer felt about his treatment from CA was still evident on Wednesday when he recalled the conversation he had with Freudenstein the day after he quit as Australia coach.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 29: Australian Head Coach Justin Langer speaks with Assistant coach Andrew McDonald before day four of the Second Test match between Australia and India at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 29, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Darrian Traynor – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

“The first thing he said to me was, ‘It must make you feel so good that all your mates are supporting you in the media,'” Langer told a Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA event in Perth.

“I said, ‘Yeah it is, acting chairman, but with all due respect, those mates are also the all-time greats of Australian cricket. They are the fabric of Australian cricket.

“They are Australian cricket. They also work all around the world in cricket. So yeah, I’m glad my mates are looking after me. Imagine if you had have.

“Ironically, the last six months of my coaching career were the most enjoyable period of 12 years of coaching.

“Not only did we win everything, but I had energy, and I had focus, and I was happy – besides the bulls*** politics.”

Australia have since appointed Andrew McDonald as Langer’s replacement.

More Cricket 'I was happy beside the bulls--- politics': Langer lashes CA over messy exit Three little-known cricketers who were more than the game New Zealand cricket legend Daniel Vettori named as Aussie assistant coach The sixteenists: The greatest West Indies team of players with fewer than 16 Tests 'I leave with a heavy heart': England poach all-conquering Aussie to join Kiwi in men's coaching ranks Cricket

After resigning, Langer’s name was immediately linked to the England coaching position.

Langer, whose pride and passion for Australia is renowned, made it crystal clear he never considered the role.

“I’ve never spoken to English cricket,” Langer said.

“The thought of coaching England (shakes his head fervently) … mate!”

Langer talked openly about the tough lessons he learnt as coach, with the stress of trying to do too much eventually taking its toll on his physical and mental health.

“For three or four years I was concentrating on the politics, the media, the sponsorship; I was trying to do everything – I was trying to be everything to everyone,” Langer said.

“It’s no wonder you get tired. It’s no wonder your health suffers; your mental, your physical health. You’re trying to please everybody.

“The great lesson I learned was … I cleared my desk, and all of a sudden instead of having everything on my table, I had two things on my desk.

“One was winning and the second thing was my people.”

Having support – one thing Langer lacked from CA and a number of players towards the end of his coaching tenure – was also one of the most important things to him.

“If you know people have got your back, you can achieve miracles,” Langer said. 

“If they haven’t, it’s a very lonely place.

“Leadership can be very, very lonely. But it’s not lonely when you know people have got your back.”

Langer is unsure what his next move will be, but said staying in Western Australia with his family was his priority.

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- The Roar
State of Origin likely game one teams – Fifita set for final audition but Fotuaika out, Fittler coy over new Blues centres

Injuries are causing headaches for each team but State of Origin teams are starting to take shape for the series opener on June 8 at Accor Stadium.

Time is running out for prospective candidates to push their case with teams to be announced at the end of this week’s Round 12. The Blues are likely to name their team on Sunday night with the Maroons waiting until Monday morning.

Blues coach Brad Fittler needs to find a new centre pairing while Queensland rookie mentor Billy Slater said he has been impressed with young guns Selwyn Cobbo and Jeremiah Nanai as he looks to build his first squad.

Nanai and Cobbo are both 19 but Slater said “age is just a number” and he would have no hesitation in picking them irrespective of their age. Titans forward David Fifita is trying to make an early return from a knee injury for the Titans on Friday to bolt back into the Origin frame.

The Gold Coast wrecking-ball trained well on Wednesday and Titans coach Justin Holbrook is confident Fifita will make his return on the interchange bench against his former club at Suncorp Stadium.

Fifita hasn’t featured for the Titans since limping off in the 18-4 loss to Penrith on April 29 and Friday’s game will be a chance for the 22-year-old to impress Queensland coach Billy Slater before the Maroons team for State of Origin I is named on Monday.

“Dave got through training really well yesterday,” Holbrook said on Thursday. “As long as he gets through today, he’ll play tomorrow night.

“I expect a big impact from him, that’s for sure. He’s a great player, an important member of our team and we’ve missed not having him play the last few weeks. It’ll be great to have him back in our side.”

The Titans are set to be without Origin representative Moeaki Fotuaika, who has succumbed to an ankle injury suffered in last Sunday’s loss to Cronulla, but he will be available for selection for the Maroons if required.

Sam Lisone is expected to replace Fotuaika in the Titans team for Friday’s game.

Tom Trbojevic has joined Latrell Mitchell on the sidelines, meaning Brad Fittler will be choosing an all-new centre combination for game one. Trbojevic is set to miss three months on the sideline after dislocating his shoulder while Mitchell’s hamstring tear will keep him out until midway through June at the earliest.

Freddy reveals his Origin plans for Turbo, despite his potentially season-ending injury ????????#SOO #Origin #NRL pic.twitter.com/KvPcl4iD0k

— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) May 22, 2022

Penrith’s Stephen Crichton and Brisbane speedster Kotoni Staggs are the frontrunners while Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton is also an option having filled in at centre at Origin level.

“Well, there’s a week to go. They’re both in good form and the thing is it’s a very important position. If you think of some of the Queensland centres, Dane Gagai, Val Holmes, between them they’ve played 29 Origins so we need to make sure whoever we pick there, there’s a good chance whoever we do pick there might be on debut, as well so it’s a big job ahead of them whoever plays centre,” he said on Channel 9 on Sunday.

Roosters lock Victor Radley (ankle) has been ruled out for two months in a hammer blow to his State of Origin debut hopes. Sharks forward Dale Finucane’s chances are under a heavy cloud after he was sidelined with a knee injury.

He is not expected to play again before the squad is named.

However, Cameron Murray (shoulder) was set to be out of the running, but the Rabbitohs star could be making an early return this weekend against the Wests Tigers to bolster the Blues’ pack.

Keaon Koloamatangi has been a part of our camps and we’ve also got Tariq Sims, Tyson Frizell, Angus Crichton and Liam Martin who have played prior,” Fittler said recently when asked about his forward options to support certain starters Payne Haas, Isaah Yeo, Jake Trbojevic and Junior Paulo.

Ryan Papenhuyzen (knee and hamstring) is also no chance of assuming the bench utility role, leaving the spot open for Wighton or Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes.

Key dates for 2022 Origin + how 2021 unfoldedRoar Experts name their uncapped bolters

For the Maroons, Jaydn Su’A (ankle) is out but fellow second-rower David Fifita (knee) is a chance of lining up for game one if he can make an early return on Friday against Brisbane.

Cobbo is a chance to come onto the wing if Queensland use Valentine Holmes in the centres alongside Dane Gagai while Nanai could be used in the second row or on the bench.

“Not just the highlights that Cobbo and Nanai have been producing it’s the effort actions and defensive actions, bringing the ball out of trouble, doing the things that the team sees but not necessarily we focus on, on TV. They’ve been doing that, which is really good,” Slater said on Sunday Kick Off.

“Age is just a number to me if they’re doing those actions well.”

More League 'Tremendous' Munster stars as Melbourne bounce back with Manly win Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles: NRL live scores, blog NRL NEWS: Warriors defend Lodge's $700,000 payout, Hasler facing fine over ref rant The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 12 'Pony up': Broncos must do whatever it takes to keep Haas as Origin star requests immediate release League

Storm star Xavier Coates is likely to be on one wing for Queensland while Cowboys speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is also in the mix for a spot out wide.

Assistant coach Cameron Smith has also indicated Kalyn Ponga is still the frontrunner for fullback despite Warriors young gun Reece Walsh‘s impressive form.

Each state will select a squad of 22 players with NSW looking to claim the shield for the fourth time in five years, a feat they have only managed once before during their best era from 1992-96 which was only interrupted by Paul Vautin’s miracle clean-sweep team of ‘95.

The Maroons have brought in Slater at the helm after Paul Green’s sole year in charge resulted in 50-6 and 26-0 thrashings in the first two games before saving face with a 20-18 game-three win in the only series to be played all on Queensland soil.

Slater has also mentioned he is looking at the likes of Brisbane’s Patrick Carrigan, Tom Flegler and Keenan Palasia, Cowboys young gun Heilum Luki and Titans second-rower Beau Fermor as options to boost his pack.

Here’s how selections for each team are tracking leading into Origin I but of course, plenty can happen between now and game day.

James Tedesco wins Origin

James Tedesco raises the State of Origin shield. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

NSW

Outside backs: James Tedesco will lead the Blues as long as he’s available with Josh Addo-Carr and Brian To’o to return on the wings with the centre berths up for grabs due to Mitchell’s hamstring surgery and Trbojevic’s shoulder problem. Stephen Crichton and Kotoni Staggs are the frontrunners with Jack Wighton the next likely option. Siosifa Talakai, Campbell Graham and Matt Burton are also options but unlikely.

Halves: Barring injuries or suspension, Penrith duo Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai will be selected. Cody Walker and Mitch Moses are the two players who would come in if needed.

Pack: Junior Paulo and Payne Haas are in form and almost certain to be the starting props with Damien Cook at hooker for his 13th Origin in a row since his 2018 debut. Murray and Sims were the second-rowers last year and Fittler is keen to see Sims in his team again. Murray making an early return from a shoulder problem could be a massive boost for the Blues. On form, Martin should be the first edge forward picked ahead of Frizell, Crichton, Sims and Koloamatangi. Panthers co-captain Isaah Yeo will be the lock.

Bench: Fittler is a big fan of Jake Trbojevic, who played 13 straight Origins before a hip injury ruled him out of the last two games of 2021, and he can cover prop or lock. Veterans like Frizell and Crichton, who can switch between the middle and edge, are also likely to get the nod while Cronulla’s Dale Finucane is not yet out of the picture but will need to prove his fitness due to a knee problem. Knights prop Daniel Saifiti’s form has been down this season and he is struggling to retain his spot.

Angus Crichton

Angus Crichton of the Blues and teammates celebrate. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The utility berth was likely to go to Papenhuyzen but his absence opens the door for Burton, Raiders star Jack Wighton or Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes. 

Fittler will also bring some other uncapped Emerging Blues into the extended squad with Manly forward Haumole Olakau’atu and Wests Tigers prop Stefano Utoikamanu. Roosters lock Victor Radley’s hopes have been crushed after he suffered an ankle injury in Magic Round.

Likely Blues team

James Tedesco (c)Josh Addo-CarrStephen CrichtonKotoni StaggsBrian To’oJarome LuaiNathan ClearyJunior PauloDamien CookPayne HaasLiam MartinCameron MurrayIsaah YeoInterchangeJack WightonJake TrbojevicTariq SimsTyson FrizellReserves: Nicho Hynes, Matt Burton, Keaon Koloamatangi, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Angus Crichton. Queensland Maroons celebrate Origin win

 (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Queensland

Outside backs: Kalyn Ponga has built up enough credits at Origin level to retain the No.1 jersey despite modest club form. On the wings, Xavier Coates and Selwyn Cobbo are likely starters while Dane Gagai will be one centre and Cowboys speedster Valentine Holmes his likely partner. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is working his way back to match fitness so will probably miss out. Warriors young gun Reece Walsh and North Queensland winger Murray Taulagi are unlikely to make the starting side but should also get a call-up to the extended squad.

Halves: The established combination of Cameron Munster and captain Daly Cherry-Evans will call the shots with Dragons veteran Ben Hunt capable of filling in either role if there’s an injury.

Pack: Josh Papalii will be one of the front-rowers but Christian Welch’s season-ending Achilles tear leaves a vacancy. Jai Arrow has been used at prop at Origin level and could be an option with Tino Fa’asuamaleaui packing down at lock or vice versa. Kaufusi has been a fixture in the second row in 12 consecutive matches since his rookie Origin series four years ago and if Fifita is fit, he will be alongside him. Kurt Capewell is another edge forward option who could be used off the bench or as a starter with Fifita on the interchange. Harry Grant will be the hooker.

Maroons celebrate a try by Harry Grant during game three of the State of Origin series

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Bench: Hunt is guaranteed to get the utility spot, leaving three forward roles on the bench. Moeaki Fotuaika has done well in four Origins, but Carrigan seems to be in front in the pecking order.

Along with Walsh, Taulagi and Cobbo, Gold Coast’s AJ Brimson, Cowboys trio Reuben Cotter, Coen Hess and Kyle Feldt, and Eels hooker Reed Mahoney will also be in contention for the extended squad.

Likely Maroons team

1. Kalyn Ponga2. Valentine Holmes3. Dane Gagai4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow5. Xavier Coates6. Cameron Munster7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c)8. Josh Papalii9. Harry Grant10. Jai Arrow11. Felise Kaufusi12. Kurt Capewell13. Tino Fa’asuamaleauiInterchange14. Ben Hunt15. Lindsay Collins16. David Fifita 17. Jeremiah NanaiReserves: Reece Walsh, Patrick Carrigan, AJ Brimson, Reed Mahoney, Reuben Cotter.  

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- Devin Slead
What Do NFL Defensive Backs Wear? Here’s the Helmets, Cleats and Gloves Worn by NFL Starting DBs in 2021

For the second straight season, we have researched all 704 NFL Starters to get a full picture of the helmets, cleats and gloves worn by NFL football players. While completing this research is a tall task, it provides us with valuable information about what the world’s best football players wear. We have calculated the brand share and even honed in on some of the specific models these pros are wearing. For this article, we’ll be focusing on some of the league’s most athletic defenders, the linebackers.

About the Research: This research focuses on the helmets, cleats and gloves of the 704 NFL Starters. We tracked 352 Offensive Players (32 QB’s, 32 RB’s, 96 WR’s and 160 OL) and 352 Defensive Players (64 DE’s, 49 DT’s, 64 OLB’s, 47 ILB’s and 128 DB’s). For this research, injuries were not considered, the best players at each position were selected. We used both ESPN and OurLads as a resource for our depth charts. The research was conducted from Week 15 to Week 17 (Dec. 20 – Jan. 2).

Our final note is to remember that players switch equipment all the time (sometimes even at halftime), so there is no way to ensure 100% accuracy throughout the season. Our findings still offer the best representation available of what brands and models are most popular among NFL Starters.

Helmets Worn by NFL Starting Defensive Backs

Defensive back is one of the toughest positions on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerbacks and safeties make up the back end of the defense and can make or break a football team. These typically smaller, speedy athletes are expected to lock down the opposing teams’ wide receivers and come up to make stops in the run game. To play DB in the NFL, you have to play fast, physical and confidently. Defensive backs usually opt to wear a safe, lightweight helmet that allows them to be fully protected and keep up with the offense. Let’s take a peek at the most popular helmet brands and models worn by NFL starting DBs during the 2021-22 season.

Riddell | Worn by 57% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Xavien Howard wears the Riddell Speedflex helmet.

The most popular helmet brand amongst NFL starting defensive backs is Riddell. This past season we saw 57% of starting DBs wearing Riddell – most of them in the Riddell Speedflex. The ‘flex is the most popular helmet across all levels of football because of it’s sharp looks and top notch safety ratings. The 5-star rated helmet does an incredible job absorbing contact with the small panel on the front, the facemask and the actual shell. It’s one of the best helmets on the market and worn by some of the league’s most talented ballhawks, including Jalen Ramsey, Jaire Alexander and Xavien Howard. You can grab a Riddell Speedflex from Riddell for about $470.

Tyrann Mathieu wears the Riddell Speed helmet.

The other popular Riddell helmet worn by 4 starting DBs, is the Riddell Speed. Once upon a time, the speed was the most popular helmet in the game, but following the release of the Speedflex, it’s usage has dropped rapidly. The Speed remains a 5-star rated helmet and is worn by Tyrann Mathieu and Darius Slay. You can still get a Riddell Speed from Riddell for about $370 ($100 cheaper than the Speedflex).

Schutt | Worn by 41% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs JC Jackson wears the Schutt Air XP Q11 helmet.

Coming in second, we have Schutt, making up 41% of the helmet brand share among NFL starting DBs. The most popular Schutt model is their Schutt Air XP Q11. This, to most, will come as a huge shock because it’s such an “old-school” looking helmet. Despite its’ classic appearance, the Air XP Q11 is a 5-star rated helmet and one of the lightest on the market – weighing only 4.1 pounds. This helmet looks absolutely incredible on DBs and is worn by Tre’Davious White, Joe Haden and JC Jackson. The Schutt Air XP Q11 is currently a pro-model only, but you can get the similar Schutt Air XP Q10 for $450 from Schutt.

Denzel Ward wears the Schutt F7 helmet. Photo via NFL

The second most popular Schutt helmet is the Schutt F7. The F7 is the newest and safest helmet in Schutt’s lineup and scores a perfect 5/5 on the VT Helmet Rating Scale. The key to the F7’s success is the “tektonic plates” on the top of the helmet. These unique panels actually move independently from the rest of the shell to help disperse rotational force. Basically, the helmet does an excellent job of preventing the impact from reaching your head. This helmet is a super common choice among DBs because of it’s lightweight design and low-profile look. This past season we saw lock-down corners including Denzel Ward and AJ Terrell, in the F7. You can check out the Schutt F7 from $550 – $750 on Schutt’s website.

Vicis | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Adrian Phillips wears the Vicis Zero2 helmet. Photo via Pats Pulpit

Lastly, we saw 2 starting DBs in Vicis helmets – Adrian Phillips and Eric Rowe. Both of these guys were in the 5-star rated, Vicis Zero2. The Zero2 is the safest helmet ever tested by the VT Helmet Rating Scale, but has unique “bobble-head” appearance. So, despite it’s incredible safety specs, it’s a pretty unpopular helmet among NFL DBs. Check out the Vicis Zero2 for yourself on Vicis.com, starting at $700.

Cleats Worn by NFL Starting Defensive Backs

Aside from helmets, cleats may be the most important piece of equipment for a defensive back. Cleats allow DBs to keep up with speedy WRs and cut on a dime to jump a route. DBs almost always roll with a pair of lightweight, low-cut cleats with plenty of traction. Let’s see what cleat brands and models were most popular among DBs in the 2021-22 season.

Nike | Worn by 78% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Patrick Surtain II wears Nike Vapor Edge 360 Speed cleats.

Last season, Nike led the way with an impressive 78% of the total cleat brand share among NFL starting DBs. The most popular cleat model was Nike Vapor Edge 360 Speed. The 360 Speed is the latest vapor cleat from Nike and is built for skill players, like DBs. The cleat is low-cut, lightweight and features the “edge” traction plate. The “edge” plate is a 2-piece construction with sharp studs on the outermost parts of the plate. These studs allow DBs to cut on a dime to break up a pass or stuff an outside sweep. These are perfect cleats for both cornerbacks and safeties, so it’s no surprise they are the most popular. We saw Kevin Byard and Pat Surtain II in these last season. You can grab a pair for $95 from Dicks.

Trevon Diggs wears the Nike Vapor Untouchable Speed 3 cleats. Photo via Just Blog Baby

The other popular Nike cleat is one of the older models, the Nike Vapor Untouchable Speed 3. These released back in 2018 and are incredibly similar to the Vapor Edge 360 Speed. These are a simple, low-cut cleat that weighs very little. These also have the “speed” traction plate which resembles the studs of a track spike. These are a great option for all defensive backs and worn by Trevon Diggs and Stephon Gilmore. Since they’re over 4 years old, they’re tough to find so check out Ebay.

Adidas | Worn by 16% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Jalen Ramsey wears the Adidas Adizero 11.0 SK Primeknit cleats. Photo via @adidasfballus

The second most popular cleat brand among NFL starting DBs was Adidas. We saw a total of 20 starting DBs living the “Three Stripe Life” and the most common model was the Adidas Adizero 11.0. The Adizero 11.0 is currently the latest skill cleat from Adidas and one of the lightest cleats in the game. The 11.0 has a fresh traction plate with sharp, triangle studs that provide plenty of traction. These are great for DBs because they allow you to cut fast and react to the football. This past season we saw Jalen Ramsey in the Adidas Adizero 11.0 Primeknit and JC Jackson in the regular 11.0. You can grab the Adidas Adizero 11.0 for $120 from Eastbay.

Jordan | Worn by 3% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Tyrann Mathieu wears Jordan Retro cleats.

This past season, we saw 3% of NFL starting DBs wearing Jordan Brand football cleats. Over the past couple years, we’ve seen more and more Jordan Brand on the gridiron. These older basketball silhouettes have become pretty popular in the NFL. Jordan Retro cleats provide plenty of support, a wide traction plate and tons of swag. Jordan Brand athletes, Jamal Adams, Tyrann Mathieu, and Joe Haden, all wore a plethora of Jordan Retro cleats this past season. If you want a pair of Jordan cleats, we suggest you check StockX and GOAT.

Under Armour | Worn by 3% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Xavien Howard wears Under Armour Spotlight cleats.

Lastly, we have Under Armour making up the final 3% of the brand share. The most popular UA model amongst NFL DBs was the Under Armour Spotlight. The Spotlight is UA’s most popular skill cleat and is low-cut and lightweight. Certified pick-artist, Xavien Howard has been wearing these for years. You can grab a pair from Eastbay for $120.

Gloves Worn by NFL Starting Defensive Backs

Defensive backs are notorious for dropping interceptions, but something that can help is a pair of football gloves. When you watch the NFL, every player in the secondary is usually wearing a pair football gloves. Football gloves can both help protect your hands and help you reel in tough interceptions. The best gloves for DBs are receiver gloves. These gloves are lightweight with maximum grip on the palms. Let’s take a look at what glove brands and models NFL starting DBs are rocking.

Nike | Worn by 76% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Jevon Holland wears the Nike Vapor Jet 6.0 gloves. Photo via NY Post

The most popular, by a wide margin, is Nike with an astounding 76% of the brand share among NFL starting DBs. The most popular glove among them is the Vapor Jet 6.0, the latest receiver glove from Nike. The VJ6 is a tight fitting glove that provides plenty of ball feel. These gloves also feature Nike’s “magnigrip” palms which are the stickiest in the game. These are simply, the best option for DBs and worn by some of your favorites, including Jevon Holland, Trevon Diggs and Byron Murphy. You can get the Nike Vapor Jet 6.0 from Dicks for $45.

Justin Simmons wears Nike Superbad 6.0 gloves. Photo via The Denver Channel

The other popular Nike glove model was the Nike Superbad 6.0. The SB6 has the same elite “magnigrip” palms but has some lightweight padding on the back of hand. These are a great option for physical defensive backs or anyone who just wants a little extra hand protection. Justin Simmons, Marlon Humphrey and Stephon Gilmore wore these this past season. You can get the Superbad 6.0 from Dicks for $55.

Adidas | Worn by 13% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Jalen Ramsey wears the Adidas Adizero 11.0 gloves. Photo via The Rams

Coming in second, we have Adidas making up 13% of the total glove brand share among NFL DBs. The most popular Adidas model was the Adidas Adizero 11.0. These are an excellent lightweight option with sticky, Adidas’ “griptack” palms. These will help you snag the football and hold onto it. This past season we saw Jalen Ramsey and Jaire Alexander in these gloves. You can grab a pair from Eastbay for $45.

Cutters | Worn by 9% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Budda Baker wears the Cutters Rev Pro 4.0 gloves. Photo via azcardinals

This past season, we saw 9% of starting NFL DBs wearing Cutters gloves. The most popular model among them was the Cutters Rev Pro 4.0. The Rev Pro 4.0 boasts a lightweight back of hand and super tacky “c-tack” grip. The grip on these is super durable and we saw Xavien Howard, James Bradberry and Budda Baker in these gloves. You can grab the Cutters Rev Pro 4.0 for $45 from Eastbay.

Jordan | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Defensive Backs Tyrann Mathieu wears the Jordan Superbad 6.0 gloves.

Finally, to wrap things up, we have Jordan Brand representing the final 2% of glove share among NFL starting DBs. Jordan Brand athletes, Jamal Adams, Tyrann Mathieu and Joe Haden wore Jordan gloves this past season. These gloves are identical to Nike gloves, just with different branding. If you want Jordan branded football gloves, Dicks just released the Jordan Jet 7.0 for $55.

There you have it… the gear worn by the best defensive backs in the world! Let us know what you think about our report in the comments below!

The post What Do NFL Defensive Backs Wear? Here’s the Helmets, Cleats and Gloves Worn by NFL Starting DBs in 2021 appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Devin Slead
What Do NFL Linebackers Wear? Here’s the Helmets, Cleats and Gloves Worn by NFL Starting LBs in 2021

For the second straight season, we have researched all 704 NFL Starters to get a full picture of the helmets, cleats and gloves worn by NFL football players. While completing this research is a tall task, it provides us with valuable information about what the world’s best football players wear. We have calculated the brand share and even honed in on some of the specific models these pros are wearing. For this article, we’ll be focusing on some of the league’s most athletic defenders, the linebackers.

About the Research: This research focuses on the helmets, cleats and gloves of the 704 NFL Starters. We tracked 352 Offensive Players (32 QB’s, 32 RB’s, 96 WR’s and 160 OL) and 352 Defensive Players (64 DE’s, 49 DT’s, 64 OLB’s, 47 ILB’s and 128 DB’s). For this research, injuries were not considered, the best players at each position were selected. We used both ESPN and OurLads as a resource for our depth charts. The research was conducted from Week 15 to Week 17 (Dec. 20 – Jan. 2).

Our final note is to remember that players switch equipment all the time (sometimes even at halftime), so there is no way to ensure 100% accuracy throughout the season. Our findings still offer the best representation available of what brands and models are most popular among NFL Starters.

Helmets Worn by NFL Starting Linebackers

Linebacker is one of the most diverse positions of the defense. These fearless warriors fill gaps in the run game and run with wide receivers over the middle in the pass game. Linebackers are the leaders and lifeblood of an NFL defense and need equipment that allows them to dominate. It’s vital that these tackling machines are wearing a protective football helmet so they can make plays all day long. Let’s take a look at what brands and models are most popular among NFL linebackers.

Riddell | Worn by 81% of NFL Starting Linebackers Patrick Queen wears the Riddell Speedflex helmet. Photo via USA Today

The most popular football helmet brand among NFL linebackers is Riddell and by a wide margin. This past season, we saw 81% of starting NFL linebackers wearing Riddell helmets – a majority of them in the Riddell Speedflex. The Speedflex is the most popular helmet in football and has been for about 5 years. The ‘flex is the perfect blend of modern external styling and top of the line padding. The key to the 5-star rated helmet’s success is its ability to flex (duh) and absorb contact. The hex panel on the front of the helmet, the shell, and even the facemask, work to flex and absorb impact. This is one of the best helmets on the market and worn by some of your favorite NFL linebackers including Darius Leonard, Deion Jones, and Patrick Queen. You can grab a Riddell Speedflex from Riddell for about $470.

Devin White wears the Riddell Speed helmet.

The other popular Riddell helmet is the Riddell Speed. Prior to the existence of the Speedflex, the Riddell Speed was the most popular helmet in football. Since the Speedflex has taken over the football world, we’ve seen the usage of the Riddell Speed decline quickly. The Speed is still a 5-star rated helmet and one of the lightest helmets available – weighing only 3.7 pounds. The Speed is still worn by plenty of NFL linebackers, including Devin White, Myles Jack and Roquan Smith. You can still get a Riddell Speed from Riddell for about $370 ($100 cheaper than the Speedflex).

Schutt | Worn by 16% of NFL Starting Linebackers TJ Watt wears the Schutt F7 helmet. Photo via Yahoo Sports

This past season we saw 16% of starting NFL linebackers wearing Schutt football helmets. The most popular helmet among them was the newest innovation from Schutt – the Schutt F7. The F7 is the newest and safest helmet in Schutt’s lineup and scores a perfect 5/5 on the VT Helmet Rating Scale. The key to the F7’s success is the “tektonic plates” on the top of the helmet. These unique panels actually move independently from the rest of the shell to help disperse rotational force. Basically, the helmet does an excellent job of preventing the impact from reaching your head. This helmet is an excellent option for any position and worn by some of the league’s best defenders including TJ Watt, Khalil Mack and Josh Allen. You can check out the Schutt F7 from $550 – $750 on Schutt’s website.

Bobby Wagner wears the Schutt Air XP Q11 helmet. Photo via Bleacher Report

The other Schutt helmet, only worn by 6 starting NFL LBs, is the Schutt Air XP Q11. The Schutt Air XP Q11 is a combination of the classic Air XP shell and the newest padding from Schutt. The Air XP Q11 is popular among NFL veterans including Anthony Barr and Bobby Wagner. The Schutt Air XP Q11 is currently a pro-model only but you can get the similar Schutt Air XP Q10 for $450 from Schutt.

Vicis | Worn by 3% of NFL Starting Linebackers Joey Bosa wears the Vicis Zero2 helmet.

Finally, making up 3% of the helmet brand share among NFL starting LBs, is Vicis. This past season we saw 3 LBs in Vicis helmets – Matt Milano in the Vicis Zero1 and Joey Bosa and Drue Tranquill in the Zero2. Vicis is relatively new to the helmet game (founded in 2013), but they have created the safest helmets the game has ever seen. Vicis owns 3 spots in the top 6 on the VT Helmet Rating Scale, including #1 and #2. These are the best helmets on the market but their unique “bobble-head” shape seems to deter a lot of players. Check out the Vicis Zero2 on Vicis.com, starting at $700.

Cleats Worn by NFL Starting Linebackers

As I mentioned earlier, in the NFL, linebackers are expected to do it all. These talented defenders have to be capable of stuffing the run, rushing the passer and covering WRs in the secondary. Due to all of these responsibilities, these guys need cleats that can handle all of that. Some LBs tend to select a cleat with plenty of ankle support while others roll with a lightweight, speed cleat. Let’s take a close look at what cleats your favorite NFL LBs wore this past season.

Nike | Worn by 66% of NFL Starting Linebackers Darius Leonard wears the Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3 cleats. Photo via Fox59

The most popular cleat brand amongst NFL starting linebackers is Nike. We saw an astounding 66% of NFL starting LBs trusting the swoosh – most of them in the Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3. Despite this cleat being 4 years old, it’s still the most popular among the league’s best; that fact alone speaks volumes to the performance of this cleat. The main reason behind this cleats’ popularity is it’s carbon fiber traction plate. This traction plate has diamond studs that grip the ground and the carbon fiber feels as if it’s springing you into your next step. These cleats actually make you feel like you’re running faster which is every football player’s dream. Foyesade Oluokun, Tremaine Edmunds and Darius Leonard all wore the Nike VUP3 last season. These cleats are tough to find, but there are some on stockx.com and eBay

Jordan | Worn by 18% of NFL Starting Linebackers Devin White wears Jordan 5 cleats.

The second most popular brand amongst NFL starting LBs with 18% of the total brand share, is Jordan. Over the past several seasons, we’ve seen Jordan Brand cleat usage on the rise. These 1980s and 1990s Jordan basketball silhouettes have quickly become very popular among big skill players on the gridiron, especially linebackers. Jordan retros are perfect for linebackers because they have solid ankle support, a wide traction plate and of course, plenty of swag. We see both Jordan athletes, Devin White and Bobby Wagner and non-Jordan athletes, Joey Bosa and Haason Reddick, rocking different Jordan retro cleats. If you want a pair of Jordan cleats, we suggest you check StockX and GOAT.

Adidas | Worn by 14% of NFL Starting Linebackers Devin Bush wears Adidas Freak Ultra Primeknit cleats. Photo via USA Today

This past season, we saw 14% of NFL starting LBs wearing Adidas football cleats. The most popular Adidas cleat was the Adidas Freak Ultra Primeknit 21. These cleats are built perfectly for linebackers. These cleats have a lightweight primeknit upper, a high-cut ankle and a super linebacker friendly, “freak” traction plate. The “freak” traction plate is wide, springy, has plenty of long studs, and side teeth to help with lateral movement. These cleats have plenty of ankle support but are also light enough to help you run stride for stride with WRs. Devin Bush, Robert Quinn and Preston Smith wore these this past season. They’re a little tougher to find now but you can try Ebay.

Jerome Baker wears Adidas Adizero cleats. Photo via USA Today

The other popular Adidas cleat among NFL LBs is the Adidas Adizero 11.0. The Adizero 11.0 is the latest skill cleat from Adidas and incredibly lightweight. These cleats are low-cut and have a springy traction plate with sharp, triangle studs. These cleats are catered towards true skill players but work great for speedy linebackers like Jerome Baker and Zach Cunningham. You can grab the Adidas Adizero 11.0 for $120 from Eastbay.

Under Armour | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Linebackers TJ Watt wears Under Armour Nitro Mid cleats. Photo via Bleacher Report

We only saw 2 NFL starting LBs wearing Under Armour cleats this season – TJ Watt and Jihad Ward. Both of these guys are in Under Armour Nitro Mid cleats. These cleats are mid-cut, lightweight and have a traction plate with long studs. These cleats are tough to find but here’s a link to some on Amazon.

Gloves Worn by NFL Starting Linebackers

In today’s NFL, football gloves are a must have for every position (maybe not kickers). For linebackers, they wear gloves to protect their hands and give them some extra grip incase they get their hands on the football. The best gloves for linebackers are padded receiver gloves. This type of glove will protect their hands when making tackles but give them the grip to intercept the ball or scoop up a fumble. Let’s take a look and see what the most popular gloves were among NFL LBs this past season.

Nike | Worn by 81% of NFL Starting Linebackers De’Vondre Campbell wears the Nike Superbad 6.0 gloves. Photo via Yahoo Sports

Similar to the cleat part of this article, Nike is absolutely dominating the game. This past season, we saw 81% of NFL starting LBs wearing the swoosh on their hands. The most popular model was the Nike Superbad 6.0. The Nike SB6 is the perfect glove for linebackers. These gloves have lightweight padding to protect the back of hand and then Nike’s super sticky “magnigrip” palms to help you catch the football. We saw lots of NFL LBs in these this past season, including De’Vondre Campbell, Denzel Perryman and Darius Leonard. You can get the Superbad 6.0 from Dicks for $55.

Fred Warner wears the Nike Vapor Jet 6.0 gloves. Photo via SFGate

The other Nike glove that was very popular among NFL starting LBs, was the Nike Vapor Jet 6.0. The VJ6 is the latest receiver glove from Nike and the most popular glove in all of football. These don’t have the padding of the Nike Superbad 6.0 but are just as sticky, ensuring you’ll be ready if you get an opportunity to grab the football. These gloves were worn by Isaiah Simmons, Myles Jack and Fred Warner. You can get the Nike Vapor Jet 6.0 from Dicks for $45.

Adidas | Worn by 9% of NFL Starting Linebackers Harold Landry wears the Adidas Freak 5.0 gloves. Photo via Bleacher Report

Coming in second, we have Adidas making up 9% of the glove brand share among NFL starting LBs. The most popular Adidas glove was the Adidas Freak 5.0. The Freak 5.0 is Adidas’ latest padded receiver glove and has lightweight padding on the back of hand and sticky Adidas “griptack” on the palms. These gloves will help protect you when making a tackle and the sticky palms will help you reel in an interception. We saw Deion Jones and Harold Landry wore these this past season and you can get them from Eastbay for $55.

Von Miller wears the Adidas Adizero 11.0 gloves. Photo via USA Today

The other popular Adidas glove was the Adidas Adizero 11.0. These are the latest receiver glove from Adidas. These gloves don’t have the protection that the Freak 5.0s have but they have the same super sticky “griptack” palms. These are an excellent lighter option for linebackers and will help you catch the football and hang onto it. We saw Von Miller and Bradley Chubb wear the Adizero 11.0s this past season. You can grab a pair from Eastbay for $45.

Cutters | Worn by 5% of NFL Starting Linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul wears the Cutters Rev Pro 4.0 gloves. Photo via Pewter Report

This past season, we saw 5% of NFL starting LBs wearing Cutters gloves. The most popular Cutters model was the Cutters Rev Pro 4.0. The Rev 4.0 is a very dependable pair of receiver gloves with Cutters’ awesome “C-Tack” grip. We saw Kamu Greiger-Hill and JPP wear Cutters gloves this past season. You can grab the Cutters Rev Pro 4.0 for $45 from Eastbay.

Jordan | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Linebackers Devin White wears the Jordan Vapor Jet 4.0 gloves.

Last year, we only saw 2 players wearing Jordan Brand football gloves – Devin White and Bobby Wagner. Both White and Wagner are signed with Jordan Brand so they are able to get these exclusive Jordan gloves that are unavailable to the public. Both of these guys wear older style gloves – Bobby is in the Jordan Superbad 3.0 and White is in the Jordan Vapor Jet 4.0. These gloves are Nike gloves, but rebranded as Jordan. If you want Jordan branded football gloves, Dicks just released the Jordan Jet 7.0 for $55.

No Gloves | 1% of NFL Starting Linebackers Robert Quinn wears no gloves. Photo via Sports Mockery

Last year, the NFL sack leader runner-up, Robert Quinn, opted to wear no gloves all season long. It’s crazy to see a guy not wearing gloves in 2022, but Robert Quinn is a certified baller.

Under Armour | Worn by 1% of NFL Starting Linebackers Jihad Ward is the only starting NFL LB to wear Under Armour gloves. Photo via Jacksonville.com.

To wrap things up, we saw a single starting linebacker wearing Under Armour gloves last season – Jihad Ward. Under Armour was once one of the most popular brands in the NFL, but their usage has fallen off a cliff the last couple seasons. Jihad Ward wore the Under Spotlight which you can grab here for $45.

There you have it… the gear worn by the best linebackers in the world! Let us know what you think about our report in the comments below!

The post What Do NFL Linebackers Wear? Here’s the Helmets, Cleats and Gloves Worn by NFL Starting LBs in 2021 appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Mike
MLB x GLD Micro Pendants ($79) + Giveaway Tomorrow

Our newest partner, GLD, makes icy, affordable MLB licensed jewelry. We appreciate their partnership, and its convenient that the product itself is fire. They just dropped some micro pendants that are $20 cheaper than their larger-sized pendants, and we’re featuring them here. (We’ll be doing a giveaway drawing for these tomorrow, WPW Gold members only.)

They’d make a great gift for the gamer babe(s) in your life. (Braves Micro, $79)

Or if you’re looking for something a little more subtle that you can wear every day. The standard Dodgers pendant, for example, is about 1 inch wide by 1.5″ tall, while the micro Dodger pendant is 0.5″ wide by 1.3″ inches tall. (Yankees, $79)

They’ve got a decent representation of teams available in the micro size like the Dodgers, Padres, Yankees, Tigers, White Sox, Giants, and Red Sox among others, with more to come. (Shop all)

Yankees, $79

White Sox Micro, $79

Padres Micro, $79

Pirates Micro, $79

The men and women’s product are the same. They also have NCAA, NFL and NBA products, too.

The post MLB x GLD Micro Pendants ($79) + Giveaway Tomorrow appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Ronnie Morales
4 Keys to Choosing a Pitcher’s Glove + WPW’s Top Choices

Pitchers at any level carry the least gear. Catchers carry the whole kitchen sink. Position players are next with gloves, lumber, guards, shades, and various accessories. Pitchers just need a glove and a pair of cleats. As a former pitcher, I can tell you that the glove is vital, and not just for its utility as a catcher of balls. Its also important for deception and concealment, and of course, its one of the only ways we can let everybody know that we’ve got swag, too.Superstition, like for most ballplayers, runs deep in a pitcher’s DNA. Pitchers may have more than one glove, and may switch it up after a bad outing—because its always the glove’s fault. Pitchers usually have a gamer glove and a glove for BP (also useful for the catch partner that throws a million miles an hour from 40 feet). But when we’re talking about the ultimate gamer, what glove would a pitcher choose and why?

Here are the four most important points for a pitching glove:

Glove Length

The length of the glove is a calculation based on mechanics, comfort, and of course, fielding the ball. Pitching is a fine art, and as such, the tools which the pitcher carries are finely tuned. Glove length can even effect weight and balance. Some pitchers feel a heavier glove gets them top heavy, throwing off their balance. Others may want the added weight to get the feel of separation. For some, none of that ever crosses their mind–they just want comfort. A glove often chooses you based on feel and, of course, swag. The average length is 11.5” to 12.5” for pitchers.

Larger gloves may help you avoid tipping pitches because it gives you more space to stealthily switch between pitch grips. Hitters often look for a “flared” glove that might give away a bulkier changeup grip vs the more streamlined fastball grip.

Clayton Kershaw gets separation with a Wilson glove named after him, the A2000 CK22. Similar to NBA players wearing the new Lebron James shoes, the CK22 is an ever-popular choice for pitchers.

Web

The top webs for pitchers are the two-piece, one-piece, dual hinge, and the modified trap. These top webs hide your pitch grip from the hitter, a requirement in the game of deception. Even great pitchers can “tip pitches” sometimes. Live batting practice with your teammates might help you eliminate any tips from your delivery.

Gerrit Cole’s game glove is a Rawlings Pro Preferred PROS1000 Dual-Hinge 12.25″ inch, similar to the basket web, which conceals the ball and offers a large pocket for switching grips (Rawlings, $380).

Jose Berrios wears a two-piece Under Armour glove, the only UA glove in MLB. A similar black version is available at Dick’s for $350.

Finger Hood

If you like to have your index finger out of your glove, consider a finger hood. Its commonly used by pitchers, including Shohei Ohtani, who might tip pitches by squeezing or extending the bare finger to the glove, depending on the pitch being thrown. Pitching is hard enough, don’t make it harder by tipping pitches. (Ohtani’s Asics glove might be hunted down on eBay).

Jacob DeGrom’s saucy Rawlings Pro Preferred PROS205-JD48 Two-Piece croc skin game glove has the hood ($380, Rawlings.com).

Fielding the Position

Ultimately, you’ve got to be able to field the position, so your confidence in catching the ball is paramount. Especially for young pitchers, fear of tipping pitches should be secondary to protecting yourself and fielding the ball cleanly. You might want to consider a lighter glove to move your hands faster to the ball on comebackers. For that, look at Rawlings REV1X, Hyper Shell, or Wilson Superskin.

Here’s a few more good options for pitchers:

44Pro (affordable custom gloves widely used by MLB pitchers)

2021 HEART OF THE HIDE R2G 11.75-INCH INFIELD/PITCHER’S GLOVE MODIFIED TRAP-EZE WEB for $300

11.75-INCH MODIFIED TRAPEZE HEART OF THE HIDE GLOVE MODIFIED TRAP-EZE WEB for $300

For a young pitcher with smaller hands: Wilson A2000 Pedroia Fit X2 With SuperSkin 11″ Infield Glove (baseballexpress.com)

If you’re dying for a Nike: Nike 11.75” Alpha Elite Series Glove 2 Piece Web for $225

I made a custom Mizuno ❤❤❤: MY CUSTOM GLOVEGPS1-100DC for $300

2022 PROFESSIONAL COLLECTION HYBRID 11.75-INCH PITCHER’S GLOVE 11.75 IN PITCHER’S TWO-PIECE SOLID WEB for $260

The post 4 Keys to Choosing a Pitcher’s Glove + WPW’s Top Choices appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Devin Slead
What Do NFL Defensive Lineman Wear? Here’s the Helmets, Cleats and Gloves Worn by NFL Starting DL in 2021

For the second straight season, we have researched all 704 NFL Starters to get a full picture of the helmets, cleats and gloves worn by NFL football players. While completing this research is a tall task, it provides us with valuable information about what the world’s best football players wear. We have calculated the brand share and even honed in on some of the specific models these pros are wearing. For this article, we’ll be focusing on some of the league’s most terrifying defenders, the defensive line.

About the Research: This research focuses on the helmets, cleats and gloves of the 704 NFL Starters. We tracked 352 Offensive Players (32 QB’s, 32 RB’s, 96 WR’s and 160 OL) and 352 Defensive Players (64 DE’s, 49 DT’s, 64 OLB’s, 47 ILB’s and 128 DB’s). For this research, injuries were not considered, the best players at each position were selected. We used both ESPN and OurLads as a resource for our depth charts. The research was conducted from Week 15 to Week 17 (Dec. 20 – Jan. 2).

Our final note is to remember that players switch equipment all the time (sometimes even at halftime), so there is no way to ensure 100% accuracy throughout the season. Our findings still offer the best representation available of what brands and models are most popular among NFL Starters.

Helmets Worn by NFL Starting Defensive Lineman

Defensive line is one of the most physical positions on the gridiron. Every single snap, the D-Line is going head to head with the offensive line, attempting to dominate the line of scrimmage. The 2 sides are constantly going at it in the trenches and they experience violent collisions. Whether they’re bull-rushing the QB, flying off the edge, or just stuffing the run, it’s important that these guys have a protective football helmet. Let’s take a look at the most common helmet models and brands among the 113 starting defensive lineman in the NFL.

Riddell | Worn by 85% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Deforest Buckner wears the Riddell Speedflex helmet.

The most popular helmet brand among defensive lineman is Riddell. This past season, we saw 85% of starting defensive lineman wearing Riddell football helmets – most of them in the Riddell Speedflex. The Speedflex is the most popular helmet in football and has been for the last 5 years or so. The ‘flex is the perfect blend of modern styling and top of the line protection. The 5-star rated helmet does an incredible job absorbing impact and preventing it from reaching your head. It’s one of the best helmets on the market and has been a perfect option for some of the leagues’ best interior defenders, including Deforest Buckner and Quinnen Williams. You can grab a Riddell Speedflex from Riddell for about $470.

Leonard Williams wears the Riddell Speed helmet.

The other popular Riddell helmet is the Riddell Speed. The Speed was once the most popular helmet in the game but since the release of the Speedflex, we’ve seen its usage decline. Similar to the ‘flex, the Speed is a 5-star rated football helmet. If you’re looking for a lightweight football helmet, the Speed is a great option as it only weighs about 3.7 pounds. The Speed is still rocked by NFL veterans, including Leonard Williams and JJ Watt. You can still get a Riddell Speed from Riddell for about $370 ($100 cheaper than the Speedflex).

Schutt | Worn by 11% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Danielle Hunter wears the Schutt F7 helmet. Photo via Bleacher Report.

This season, we saw 11% of starting defensive lineman wearing Schutt football helmets. The most popular Schutt helmet among them was the Schutt F7. The F7 is the newest and safest helmet in Schutt’s lineup and scores a perfect 5/5 on the VT Helmet Rating Scale. The key to the F7’s success is the “tektonic plates” on the top of the helmet. These unique panels actually move independently from the rest of the shell to help disperse rotational force. Basically, the helmet does an excellent job of preventing the impact from reaching your head. The F7 is an excellent option for all positions and worn by some skilled edge rushers including Danielle Hunter and Jerry Hughes. You can check out the Schutt F7 from $500-$1000 on Schutt’s website.

Vicis | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Nick Bosa wears the Vicis Zero2 Trench helmet. Photo via 49ers.com.

Coming in third, with only 2% of the brand share among NFL starting defensive lineman, we have Vicis. Vicis is relatively new to the helmet game (founded in 2013), but they have created some of the safest helmets the world has ever seen. Vicis helmets have next level technology and are the top-ranked helmets from both the NFLPA and the VT Helmet Rating Scale. There are 3 Vicis helmets – the Vicis Zero1, Vicis Zero2 and the Vicis Zero2 Trench. They are an excellent option for anybody on the defensive line and worn by both interior lineman (DJ Reader), and edge rushers (Nick Bosa). Check out the Vicis Zero2 on Vicis.com, starting at $700

Xenith | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Fletcher Cox wears a Xenith helmet. Photo via Bleeding Green Nation.

Lastly, we have Xenith. We rarely see Xenith worn in the NFL but Eagles teammates and defensive lineman, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, are both wearing Xenith football helmets. Unlike other football helmets, the chinstrap actually wraps around your entire head. Most helmets chinstraps simply buckle up in 4 places on the side of your head. Xenith chinstrap straps go around to the back of your neck so when you tighten up or buckle your chinstrap, it tightens up all around. It gives you a custom fit without paying the price of a custom fit helmet. Not only does this ensure a custom fit, it also feels lighter on your head because it has a lower center of gravity. Check out Xenith helmets and their technology here.

Cleats Worn by NFL Starting Defensive Lineman

In the NFL, defensive lineman are expected to be able to do a lot of things. Every Sunday, we see these guys stuff the run, rush right up the middle and also rush off the edge. To do all of this, these big guys need a super diverse football cleat capable of providing them with support and elite traction. Let’s take a look at what cleats and cleat models these guys are trusting.

Nike | Worn by 63% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Jeffrey Simmons wears the Nike Alpha Menace Pro 2 cleats. Photo via Titan Sized.

The most common cleat brand among NFL starting defensive lineman is Nike. This past season, we saw 63% of them trusting the Swoosh. There are 3 main models that these big fellas are choosing but the most popular was the Nike Alpha Menace Pro 2. The Alpha Menace Pro 2 debuted in 2019 and was designed for the biggest and strongest players on the field. The cleat is mid-cut, has a thick supportive upper, and a strap to lock down your foot. Another important part of this cleat is the traction plate – the “Alpha” plate. The Alpha plate has several long, sharp triangle studs that dig deep into the ground. These studs allow these defensive lineman to stand their ground, maintain leverage, and get after the ball carrier. The Alpha Menace Pro 2 is worn by both Jeffrey Simmons and Ed Oliver and you can get them for yourself for $100 from Eastbay.

Javon Hargrave wears the Nike Force Savage Pro 2 cleats. Photo via CBS Sports.

The second most popular Nike cleat on the defensive line is the Nike Force Savage Pro 2. This cleat is super popular among the interior defensive lineman because of its incredible amount of support. These cleats are super thick, high-cut and have a super thick strap. These cleats even have small studs on the top of the upper to protect your toes when they get stepped on. These are the ultimate lineman cleat and perfect for anyone who wants top-notch support. These cleats are worn by some of the leagues best run stuffers, including Javon Hargrave and Michael Pierce. You can grab a pair on Amazon.

Quinnen Williams wears the Nike Zoom Code Elite cleats.

Now, the third most popular cleat is something a little bit older – the Nike Zoom Code Elite. These cleats initially dropped back around 2012-2013 but are still super common in the NFL. These are a classic, simple cleat with plenty of support. They’re super wide which is perfect for these bigger guys. They look great, provide plenty of traction, and get the job done. We’ve seen Quinnen Williams and Grady Jarrett rock the Zoom Code Elite this past season.They’re a little tough to find since they’re almost 10 years old but there’s some floating around on Ebay.

Adidas | Worn by 26% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Myles Garrett wears the Adidas Freak Carbon cleats. Photo via Draft Kings.

The second most popular brand among NFL starting defensive lineman is Adidas, making up 26% of the brand share. The most popular Adidas model is the Adidas Freak Carbon. The Freak Carbon is a cleat built for the bigger guys. These cleats have a thick, supportive upper and are usually high cut. The Adidas Razorframe traction plate is super stable and the sprint studs allow edge rushers like Myles Garrett to get after the QB. These are a great option for any lineman who wants solid support, but not something too heavy. You can grab a pair for $100 from Dicks Sporting Goods.

Jordan | Worn by 6% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Cameron Jordan wears Jordan 10 cleats. Photo via Saints Facebook.

This season, we saw 6% of NFL starting defensive lineman rocking Jumpman football cleats. Jordan Brand usage is on the rise in the NFL and that’s mainly because these 80s-90s silhouettes have been discovered as an excellent option for the big guys on the gridiron. These classic kicks offer plenty of ankle support for these guys and more and more players are switching into them. The most common models we see are the 1s, 10s, and 11s, but each year we see a new model added into the mix. These cleats are a great option for anyone on the DL and have plenty of swag of course. Cameron Jordan (Jordan athlete) and Leonard Williams wore Jordans this past season. If you want a pair of Jordan cleats, we suggest you check StockX and GOAT.

Under Armour | Worn by 5% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Michael Pierce wears the Under Armour Hammer cleats. Photo via Ebony Bird.

Finally, we have Under Armour making up only 5% of the brand share among NFL defensive lineman. If you told me 10 years ago, that Under Armour would be down this bad, I wouldn’t have believed you. UA was once a front runner in the cleat game but their usage has dropped off in the last 5 years. This past off-season, UA even ended their on-field liscensing agreement with the NFL so I’d expect their numbers to drop even further. The most popular model on the DL was the Under Armour Hammer. They’re a solid option for any position on the line and you can grab a pair for $100 from Academy.com.

Gloves Worn by NFL Starting Defensive Lineman

Every single snap, the defensive line goes to war with the offensive line. While there are several tactics to get around the OL, hand fighting is a key to all of them. Some of the best defensive lineman in the game have some of the best hands. They don’t let the OL get hands on them and are experts at swatting at the OL and pushing them off balance. Hand fighting can be brutal on the hands so its important that these guys wear a protective pair of football gloves. Defensive lineman almost always wear padded football gloves with lots of support so let’s take a look at which brands and models are the most popular.

Nike | Worn by 82% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Nick Bosa wears the Nike Superbad 6.0 gloves.

The most popular glove brand is Nike, with an astounding 82% of the total brand share among starting NFL defensive lineman. Nearly all of them are wearing the Nike Superbad 6.0 – the newest “hybrid” football glove from Nike. These gloves a perfect blend of a protective lineman glove and a sticky receiver glove. These gloves have both pads on the back of hand and a super sticky, magnigrip palm. To me, it’s no surprise these are the most common glove among the defensive line. They are perfect for the position and allow these guys to be protected in the trenches but also have enough grip to reel in the football given the chance. These gloves are worn by Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, and you can wear them if you grab some from Eastbay for $55.

Aaron Donald wears the Nike Superbad 5.0 gloves. Photo via NY Post.

The other popular Nike glove is the predecessor to the Nike Superbad 6.0, the Superbad 5.0. These gloves are very similar to the Superbad 6.0 but the materials and padding style is a little bit different. They’re still a hybrid football glove with back of hand padding and sticky palms. The greatest defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald wears these. You can still find some for $55 from Dicks.

Cutters | Worn by 10% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Myles Garrett wears the Cutters Gamer 2.0 gloves. Photo via CBS Sports.

Coming in second, is Cutters! This season, saw 10% of NFL starting defensive lineman wearing Cutters football gloves. The most common Cutters glove was the Cutters Gamer 2.0. Similar to the Nike Superbads, these are an awesome hybrid football glove. They have plenty of padding on the back of hand and Cutters’ C-Tack grip on the palm. These gloves do an excellent job protecting the back of hand and C-Tack grip is one most durable on the market. Cleveland Browns bookends, Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, both wore the Cutters Gamer 2.0 this past season. The Gamer 2.0 is an older glove so it’s difficult to find but I’ll link the new Cutters Gamer 4.0 here.

Adidas | Worn by 4% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Kenny Clark wears the Adidas Freak Max 2.0 gloves. Photo via Dairy Land.

With only 4% of the brand share, we have Adidas. We didn’t see many defensive lineman wearing Adidas gloves this season but the most popular model we saw was the Freak Max 2.0, the newest lineman glove from Adidas. The Freak Max 2.0 is a heavily padded glove with some grip on the palm. In addition to the padding on the back, these also have padding on the bottom of the palm and thumb. This padding is strategically placed and helps protect the defensive lineman when battling in the trenches. These are a great option for any lineman and you can grab a pair for $65.

Under Armour | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Defensive Lineman Chase Young wears the Under Armour Combat gloves. Photo via Riggos Rag.

Lastly, we have Under Armour making up 2% of the brand share. We only saw 2 players, Chase Young and Michael Pierce, in Under Armour gloves. Chase was in the Combat and Pierce in the Fierce. Both of these gloves are padded and protect them in the trenches. As I mentioned earlier, UA usage is on the decline in the NFL and these numbers further show that. You can check out what Under Armour gloves Eastbay has here.

There you have it… the gear worn by the best defensive lineman in the world! Let us know what you think about our report in the comments below!

The post What Do NFL Defensive Lineman Wear? Here’s the Helmets, Cleats and Gloves Worn by NFL Starting DL in 2021 appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Mike
Nike Griffey 1 “Jackie Robinson Day” Available Right Now

No time for chitchat. The Griffey 1 worn on Jackie Robinson Day is available (as of this writing, 4/22 at 9:23 pacific). Get ’em for $140 while they’ve still got good sizes. I had to get a pair cuz its the right thing to do. Not even sure I’ll wear ’em.

Images via @nikediamond

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- Mike
Miguel Cabrera and His Sam Bat MC1 to Join Mays and Aaron with .300/3000/500

The great Miguel Cabrera is standing on the doorstep of baseball’s most elite club. Besides the 32 all-time greats he’ll join in the 3,000 Hit Club, Miggy will take his place alongside two baseball kings, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, in the .300 Lifetime/3,000 Hit/500 Homer Club.

The .300/3000/500 club is so exclusive that Babe Ruth can’t even claim membership, though Ted Williams would have the credentials if not for his service in World War II. Pair that triple threat with his 2012 Triple Crown, and Miggy stands alone in baseball history.

2 July 2003: Miguel Cabrera of the Florida Marlins during the Marlins 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, FL. Mandatory Credit: Gary Rothstein/Icon SMI Miggy’s Sam Bat MC1

Miggy’s mammoth strength and composed hitting approach is now in its 20th season, and even back in 2003, his rookie year, he swung the same bat brand, Sam Bat.

2000: Barry Bonds at bat for the San Francisco Giants Mandatory Credit: Jeff Carlick/Icon SMI

Made famous by Barry Bonds, Sam Bat’s specialty, Maple wood, became the top wood type in baseball not long after Bonds’ home run explosion.

The common thread between two of the greatest ever, Miggy’s Sam Bat model is one that he honed in on in 2009. Cabrera’s Sam Bat MC1 ($180 custom / $140 stock) is a Maple 34 inch, 32 ounce bat with a medium/thick 15/16″ inch handle and a classic bell-shaped flare at the knob. According to Sam Bat, Miggy sometimes uses 33.5/31.5, too.

The MC1 is endloaded, and according to Sam Bat, the barrel is fairly short and “all comes right at the end.” The barrel diameter is 2.54″ inches and Miggy employs Sam Bat’s “no cup” option (on the right of the above photo).

Miggy’s Batting Gloves

Miggy’s batting gloves have been almost as consistent, wearing the Franklin CFX Pro ($50 custom / $35 stock) since 2011.

This pair from 2015 had an “MVP” icon with a crown on the hand to commemorate his 2012 Triple Crown/MVP and 2013 MVP seasons.

In 2022 we saw him in a Tigers colorway of the CFX Pro batting gloves that you can mimic through Franklin’s custom builder.

Miggy’s Footwear

Miggy’s cleats have always varied, and while his career began in black and white Nikes, he added more color in 2015 with New Balance and their original 2000.

There was even a brief moment in 2016 when Miggy wore a never-released cleat from TRUsox, a company known for its no-slip socks. Miggy told us that he was part-owner in the company and that they’d release “if the people like them.”

Unfortunately, it never happened, and these TRUsox player editions never saw the light of day. This is actually the first time we’ve ever shown these images that Miggy sent us. The bottom ones, designed for Father’s Day, would have been sick. His TRUsox cleats disappeared not long after this conversation.

Later, he switched into Jordan brand cleats (at least when he felt like it). On Mother’s Day 2017, he wore these Jordan 12s to celebrate his wife Rosangel and mother Golla.

Cabrera wears the adidas Icon 7 Mid in 2022, available for $40-$90 at Dick’s. Here you see the no-slip TRUsox, which are available at Dick’s in a mid-calf option for $50. TRUsox website has the long ones for $45.

Miggy’s Shades

Miggy has always been a fan of shades, even while hitting, during day games.

He’s always preferred the classic baseball sunglasses, the Oakley Radar. Dick’s Sporting Goods has an awesome selection of this baseball favorite for $162-$242.

Maybe the best part of Miggy’s game is that he’s always having a good time. Here he is blaming Salvy for calling a late timeout in the batter’s box.

He’ll talk a little smack, too.

Shoutout to Miggy on achieving baseball immortality. He’s been a pleasure to watch play our game.

2003 World Series: 41 year old Roger Clemens vs 20 year old Miguel Cabrera. This is a classic 😳 pic.twitter.com/vK2wqbvLCb

— Baseball (@mlbelites_) April 17, 2022

The post Miguel Cabrera and His Sam Bat MC1 to Join Mays and Aaron with .300/3000/500 appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Jason
Kevin Durant Unveils the Nike KD 15 in 2022 NBA Playoffs

While his Brooklyn Nets loss game 1 against the Boston Celtics in heartbreaking fashion, the first round matchup also saw Kevin Durant’s 15th signature shoe on the All-Star’s feet.

This new style goes back to a low-cut feel for the first time since the KD10, for more range of motion. This is balanced by the supportive 3D molded heel counter and eye-catching midfoot cage surrounding the swoosh. The cage design was purposefully made to look like wavy water, with Kevin likening his game to the Bruce Lee quote “be like water.”

Zoom Air Strobel returns again, an underfoot bounce that has been a staple in the line since the KD12. This cushioning is visible at the midsection of the outsole, surrounded by the computer-generated traction pattern that provides grip at all angles.

Ben Nethongkome (who also designs the Kyrie line) once again crafts the KD after taking over the reins from Leo Chang on the KD14. Durant’s past sneakers have dabbled with casual sneaker elements, with the KD15 being no different. This time, there is a retro basketball feel combining elements from the Uptempo and Flight models prominant in the ’90s. The toe was inspired by the Jet Flight; a 2001 style that KD waxes nostalgia over from seeing them on his now coach’s (Steve Nash) feet.

Nike Air Jet Flight (2001)

The new sneaker is notable as it makes Durant the 2nd player ever to have 15 signature shoes release as an active player behind LeBron.

Future colorways of the KD15 will show inspiration from Durant’s love of music and art. There currently are no release dates, but expect to see them on Durant’s feet for as long as the Nets remain in the postseason.

The post Kevin Durant Unveils the Nike KD 15 in 2022 NBA Playoffs appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Mike
New Balance COMP v3 Cleats Release at Dick’s Sporting Goods

Welcome news for ballplayers waiting for ANYTHING new to drop, the New Balance Fuel Cell COMP v3 cleat dropped a few days ago exclusively at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Retail is $150 (!), but that hasn’t stopped those thirsting for a new look as the whites already basically sold out. Red, navy, and black still have good inventory (as of 4/6/22).

The COMP line is centered on a plate that promises the traction of metal with the lightness of plastic.

These new v3’s offer a woven upper that looks well-ventilated while the toe and heel seem intelligently designed to avoid tearing, which New Balance Baseball has built for in the past.

This is the most expensive cleat on the market that I’m aware of, but its also the newest. If you need a fresh look, these are the choice. Get ’em at Dick’s for $150 while they last.

The post New Balance COMP v3 Cleats Release at Dick’s Sporting Goods appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Mike
What to Expect on Opening Day 2022: Shohei, Trout, Bo, Trea, Tim Anderson, Seiya

After a two-week MLB blitz, here’s what you can expect on Opening Day 2022. Also: Locker Tours from some great players will be dropping in April. Tag us in more swag on Instagram.

The most exciting team in baseball, the Blue Jays, will not disappoint. Bo Bichette is rolling with a Rawlings REV1X with a green geometric pattern.

Unlike Francisco Lindor, Bo seems content with this one and doesn’t switch it out every game. As soon as I say that, though, he’ll probably be wearing another one. That’s the nature of this new glove, which comes game-ready out of the box. Shop at Baseball Express, Dick’s, and Rawlings. Dick’s has an exclusive “cloud” design that Bo wore at one point last year ($400).

Bo is featuring his personal brand on his Junk headband and around his neck. This is SHOW swag of the highest quality. As far as we can tell, this headband isn’t yet available, but Kolten Wong and Fernando Tatis, Jr. have a few custom bands up on Junk’s website right now.

Can’t forget the 100% Hypercraft that Bichette has been wearing since 2021. They’re some of our faves at $155-$195 via 100percent.com.

George Springer in Rawlings was a surprise, as he was a long-time fan of Nike’s V360 synthetic glove, now a relic to glove history. His Rawlings PRO3319 pattern is new, an adaptation from the infield PRO31 pattern that features dual welting.

Springer’s Heart of the Hide 12 3/4″ glove is an absolute dime and its available exactly like Springer’s for $400 at Rawlings.com.

Vladdy wore a pair of Jordan 10 cleats, but I expected more. They were pretty simple and about 50% hidden by the bellbottoms.

Angels Three-Headed Monster

Only subtle differences separate Shohei Ohtani’s 2022 Asics cleats from previous season. Ohtani’s new ones feature the slightest camo (?) style on the midsole.

The Angels gear bag with the built in bat holders is next level. There’s lots of backpacks out there, but the duffle is standard in The Show. Ohtani’s Asics Gold Stage bats are well secured with this ingenious modification.

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Mike Trout has settled into a predominantly black with red and camo trim style for his Rawlings gloves. Its been that way since he went back to Rawlings in 2016.

While Trout’s glove, which features pinky and thumb camo mesh trim and a one-of-a-kind stitched autograph on the thumb, is a player exclusive, you can get close via Rawlings.com custom builder at $530. Go Heart of the Hide leather to get the price under $400. The shades are the Show X3 Elite, available at Dick’s for $180-$205.

While we wait for new cleats to arrive (, the Trout 7 remains the most searched for cleat on WPW. It looks like Dick’s reloaded on some colorways at various price points.

Anthony Rendon’s Marucci Model 53 11.5″ glove was a well-weathered classic in all tan. We couldn’t find an exact match but you can shop Marucci gloves at MarucciSports.com.

While we were on-field, Rendon handed this Marucci glove off to a coach, presumably to break it in. Maybe the next gamer?

G-Form Guard Usage Up Big

Charlie Blackmon always brings it. He’s one of MANY guys rocking G-Form guards this year.

Cody Bellinger, too, is wearing the standard G-Form Elite elbow guard, available at Dick’s Sporting Goods in a variety of colors for $50-$55. G-Form’s growth among MLB players will be very apparent in 2022.

Belli is said to be tinkering with his swing, but one thing that needs no tinkering is his outfield defense. He’s got the gold labels now to prove it. Gavin Lux even told me that he got the same exact glove—imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

New Threads

Kris Bryant in purple! The pink adiZero batting gloves are a nice touch. Eastbay has these at $60 in standard colors.

Chappy dropping the head in blue.

Javy Baez with the Old English “D” on his chest is a bit of a surprise, but the SSK remains his favorite leather. He wore Rawlings gold labels last year WITH PERMISSION from SSK, because it was a dream of his, but Javy is not changing his allegiance. SSK has reappeared for sale in the USA at SSKBaseballShop.com. There are some Javy models for those brave enough to wear the smallest glove in MLB at 11.25″.

Trea Turner won a batting title in 2021 as a Dodger, so he’s not exactly “new,” but its still kinda freaky to see him at the top of this lineup. He and Mookie are going to be a problem. Oh and now they got Freddie too. To put it in perspective, Belli’s probably going to hit 8th.

Trea had good things to say about the 100% Speedcraft SL shades he was rocking, even though he told me he didn’t love the flashiness. He said the performance benefit of the lens, which have excellent visibility, is why you’ll see him rocking them when the sun’s up. Get Trea’s exact 100% Speedcraft SL at 100percent.com for $185.

Seiya Suzuki brings a ridiculous offensive resume from the NPB and some more Asics swag like other NPB superstars before him.

The signature on the heel is a classy touch.

Yusei Kikuchi’s Mizuno’s also had that personal flair.

As did Gosuke Katoh, Jays infielder and long-time WPW guy. He’ll make his MLB debut in 2022.

The craziest cleats might go to Yoshi Tsutsugo, who wore these wild ones—brand unknown.

TA7 Leads the League in Fun

I’ve seen a few of Tim Anderson’s games. He’s the toughest out on the field most nights, but he’s also leading the league in fun. I hear him getting rowdy in the dugout. Chattin’ up everybody on the field. Singing, joking, shooting finger-guns.

Anderson’s cleats are unbelievable. They’re a player exclusive version of the Lunar Vapor Ultrafly, and it doesn’t get cleaner.

He’s even got his children’s names on the back heel.

More Notables

Brendan Rodgers looks like he’s been living in the gym. Popeye the Sailor Man status. His REV1X, a Best of WPW finalist, is also quite strong.

As a result of an elbow sprain in the offseason, Cavan Biggio is wearing an advanced Bauerfeind elbow brace ($200) to prevent hyperextension on his left arm. Its more involved than just a standard elbow sleeve as it uses a wire tension system to slow down the arm before the risk of over-extension.

Teoscar’s Wilson A2000 1800 model is sweet, too ($380 at Wilson.com, but 22-23 weeks wait to ship!).

The Lourdes of Hair.

Jose Berrios, Jays Opening Day starter, will take the ball with an Under Armour glove. Its a nice piece, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Dick’s offers a really nice selection of UA gloves, all at $350.

Willson Contreras’ gradient fade on his Nike gear is next level. Just a beautiful thing. And no, its not available.

Pay close attention to the shoe game in Chicago, as Clint Frazier and Marcus Stroman have entered the chat.

Ketel Marte’s Marucci Model 53 (same as Rendon) is a little flashier.

Mookie’s Jordan batting gloves continue to pace the league as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, they’re still for Jordan brand athletes only.

Same goes for the cleats. Jordan baseball cleats have gone missing in 2022, so its up to eBay to deliver for the Jordan followers.

The PitchCom device (read more here) was just formally allowed by MLB. Expect to see it more and more as it’s expected to quicken pace of play and fight sign-stealing.

What’d we miss? Any new gear happenings we should know about?

The post What to Expect on Opening Day 2022: Shohei, Trout, Bo, Trea, Tim Anderson, Seiya appeared first on What Pros Wear.

- Yan McKenna
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- SportsCafe Desk
Real Madrid are a good team but I think Liverpool wil win the game, reveals Jamie Carragher
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has admitted that he thinks Liverpool will claim victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League final as the Spanish side rely on luck to overcome their opponents en route to the final. The two teams face off on Saturday in the Stade de France.
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Reports | Eddie Nketiah to sign contract extension with Arsenal
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- SportsCafe Desk
IPL 2022 | Washington Sundar and T Natarajan's injuries really threw us a little bit, says Tom Moody
Sunrisers Hyderabad did not do well in the IPL as they failed to qualify for the playoffs this season. The Kane Williamson-led side looked like a strong unit initially but coach Tom Moody feels that the injuries of T.Natarajan and Washington Sundar and some close defeats threw them off.
- SportsCafe Desk
Formula 2 | After Spain misfortune, Jehan Daruvala looks to make amends in Monaco
India’s Jehan Daruvala will be hoping for a change in his Formula 2 fortunes as he heads to Monaco this weekend determined to bounce back from an unlucky outing in Spain. He was denied chance to fight for victory after an electrical issue sidelined him on fourth lap of last Sunday’s Feature race.
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French Open 2022 | Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig progress into mixed doubles round of 16
As the mixed doubles competition started at the French Open on Thursday, India's Sania Mirza and her Croatian partner Ivan Dodig moved into the second round at the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris. The duo beat unseeded pair of Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Germany’s Laura Siegemund 7(7)-6(4), 6-2.
- SportsCafe Desk
IPL 2022 | Sanjay Bangar and Faf du Plessis have kept team almost consistent, opines Virender Sehwag
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- SportsCafe Desk
India Open of Surfing 2022 | 70 top surfers set to participate in country's biggest event
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- SportsCafe Desk
IPL 2022 | Internet reacts as fan breaches security at Eden Gardens to meet Virat Kohli
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IPL 2022 | I knew that the majority of my deliveries would be slower balls, reveals Harshal Patel
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I’m staying at Liverpool next season for sure, declares Mohamed Salah
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Murali Sreeshankar bags long jump gold at Kallithea athletics meet
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Narinder Batra to resign from his post of president of the Indian Olympic association
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French Open 2022 | Ramkumar Ramanathan wins his first grand slam match, moves to second round in men's doubles
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Ravindra Jadeja retains top position in Test all-rounders rankings, Ravichandran Ashwin placed second
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IPL 2022 | KL Rahul should have taken little more chances while chasing, opines Ravi Shastri
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IPL 2022 | Harshal Patel is a joker in the pack and a high pressure-time bowler, says Faf du Plessis
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- The Sports News Team
Vitality Blast 2022 Points Table: England T20 Blast 2022 Team Standings

Points table for the Vitality Blast 2022 (England T20 Blast 2022), which is scheduled to be played from May 25 to July 16, 2022 in England.

The post Vitality Blast 2022 Points Table: England T20 Blast 2022 Team Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- The Sports News Team
Byju’s Pondicherry T10 Tournament 2022 Points Table and Team Standings

Points table for the Byju’s Pondicherry T10 Tournament 2022, played from May 19-June 3 at Cricket Association Puducherry Siechem Ground.

The post Byju’s Pondicherry T10 Tournament 2022 Points Table and Team Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- Kundan Kumar
British government approves Chelsea FC sale after approval from Premier League

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The post British government approves Chelsea FC sale after approval from Premier League appeared first on The Sports News.

- Kundan Kumar
“Would Love To Return…”: AB de Villiers confirms his presence for IPL 2023 to RCB

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The post “Would Love To Return…”: AB de Villiers confirms his presence for IPL 2023 to RCB appeared first on The Sports News.

- Kundan Kumar
BCCI signed up FanCraze as NFT partner for the Women’s T20 Challenge 2022

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The post BCCI signed up FanCraze as NFT partner for the Women’s T20 Challenge 2022 appeared first on The Sports News.

- Abhinav Kumar Singh
Melbet Bangladesh: Legal Online Sports Betting in 2022

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The post Melbet Bangladesh: Legal Online Sports Betting in 2022 appeared first on The Sports News.

- Abhinav Kumar Singh
ZEE signs Global Media Rights contract with UAE T20 League

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The post ZEE signs Global Media Rights contract with UAE T20 League appeared first on The Sports News.

- Kundan Kumar
Praise showers for young pacer Umran Malik for his maiden team India call-up

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The post Praise showers for young pacer Umran Malik for his maiden team India call-up appeared first on The Sports News.

- The Sports News Team
ECS Sweden Stockholm 2022 Points Table: ECS T10 Stockholm 2022 Team Standings

Points table for ECS Sweden Stockholm 2022, which is scheduled to be played from May 16-28 at Norsborg Cricket Ground, Stockholm, Sweden.

The post ECS Sweden Stockholm 2022 Points Table: ECS T10 Stockholm 2022 Team Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- The Sports News Team
Ireland Inter-Provincial ODD 2022 Points Table: Ireland Inter-Provincial Limited Over Cup 2022 Standings

Points table for the Ireland Inter-Provincial ODD 2022 (Ireland Inter-Provincial Limited Over Cup) to be played from May 3-July 7 in Ireland.

The post Ireland Inter-Provincial ODD 2022 Points Table: Ireland Inter-Provincial Limited Over Cup 2022 Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- The Sports News Team
Dream11 Nature Isle T10 2022 Points Table and Team Standings

Points table for Dream11 Nature Isle T10 2022, which is scheduled from May 22 to June 5 at Windsor Park, Roseau, Dominica, West Indies.

The post Dream11 Nature Isle T10 2022 Points Table and Team Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- Abhinav Kumar Singh
India’s squad for the 5th Test at Edgbaston against England announced; Pujara returns, Rahane ruled out with injury

BCCI announced India’s squad for the 5th rescheduled Test against England to be played at Edgbaston, Birmingham from July 1-5.

The post India’s squad for the 5th Test at Edgbaston against England announced; Pujara returns, Rahane ruled out with injury appeared first on The Sports News.

- Abhinav Kumar Singh
India’s squad for the T20I series against South Africa; KL Rahul to lead; Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh get maiden call ups

BCCI on Sunday announced the squad for the 5-match T20I series against South Africa. KL Rahul to lead, Rishabh Pant named as vice-captain.

The post India’s squad for the T20I series against South Africa; KL Rahul to lead; Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh get maiden call ups appeared first on The Sports News.

- The Sports News Team
TATA IPL 2022 Points Table: Indian Premier League 2022 Team Standings

TATA IPL 2022 Points Table: Points Table for the 2022 Indian Premier League (TATA IPL 2022), which is to be played from March 26 to May 29.

The post TATA IPL 2022 Points Table: Indian Premier League 2022 Team Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- Sumit Kumar
3 Cricket Leagues that are loved by Indian Bookmakers

In this article, we will be taking a look at the top 3 cricket leagues that are certified favorites of Indian betting sites!

The post 3 Cricket Leagues that are loved by Indian Bookmakers appeared first on The Sports News.

- The Sports News Team
Ireland Arachas Super Series 2022 Points Table: Ireland Women’s ODD 2022 Team Standings

Points table for the Ireland Women’s ODD 2022 (Arachas Super Series 2022) which is scheduled from May 1 to August 10 at The Inch, Dublin.

The post Ireland Arachas Super Series 2022 Points Table: Ireland Women’s ODD 2022 Team Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- Abhinav Kumar Singh
Can women’s IPL be as big as the men’s counterpart ?

With the IPL’s tried and tested profitability, it is no wonder that the BCCI seems quite keen on introducing a women’s version.

The post Can women’s IPL be as big as the men’s counterpart ? appeared first on The Sports News.

- The Sports News Team
MCA T20 Syawal Peace Cup 2022 Points Table: MCA T20 Cup 2022 Team Standings

MCA T20 Cup: Points table for the MCA T20 Syawal Peace Cup 2022 which is scheduled to played from May 14-August 18 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The post MCA T20 Syawal Peace Cup 2022 Points Table: MCA T20 Cup 2022 Team Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- The Sports News Team
English Women’s Regional T20 Competition 2022 Points Table: Charlotte Edwards Cup 2022 Team Standings

Points table for the English Women’s T20 Cup 2022 which is scheduled to played from May 14, 2022 -June 11, 2022 in England.

The post English Women’s Regional T20 Competition 2022 Points Table: Charlotte Edwards Cup 2022 Team Standings appeared first on The Sports News.

- Abhinav Kumar Singh
BCCI announces FanCraze, Boost and CEAT as Official Partners of the Women’s T20 Challenge 2022

BCCI have signed FanCraze, Boost and CEAT as the Official Partners of the My11Circle Women’s T20 Challenge 2022.

The post BCCI announces FanCraze, Boost and CEAT as Official Partners of the Women’s T20 Challenge 2022 appeared first on The Sports News.

- USA TODAY HSS Staff
2022 USA TODAY/American Volleyball Coaches Association boys volleyball Super 25 - Week 11

Here is the USA TODAY/American Volleyball Coaches Association boys volleyball Super 25 as of May 25, 2022.

1. Sandra Day O’Connor High School (Phoenix, Ariz.)

Region: West | Record: 44-0 | PR: 1

2. Newport Harbor High School (Newport Beach, Calif.)

Region: West | Record: 28-5 | PR: 5

3. Loyola High School (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Region: West | Record: 23-4 | PR: 2

4. Roncalli High School (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Region: Midwest | Record: 35-1 | PR: 3

5. Central Dauphin High School (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Region: Northeast | Record: 18-0 | PR: 4

6. St. Louis University High School (Mo.)

Region: Midwest | Record: 30-0 | PR: 6

7. Marist High School (Chicago, Ill.)

Region: Midwest | Record: 32-2-1 | PR: 7

8. Glenbard West High School (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)

Region: Midwest | Record: 32-3 | PR: 8

9. St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.)

Region: West | Record: 38-2 | PR: 11

10. Glenbrook North (Northbrook, Ill.)

Region: Midwest | Record: 25-3 | PR: 10

11. Beckman High School (Irvine, Calif.)

Region: West | Record: 39-5 | PR: 9

12. Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Region: Midwest | Record: 22-1 | PR: 12

13. Mira Costa High School (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)

Region: West | Record: 20-11 | PR: 14

14. Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Region: West | Record: 25-5 | PR: 15

15. Lincoln Way East (Frankfort, Ill.)

Region: Midwest | Record: 29-6 | PR: 16

16. Redondo Union High School (Redondo Beach, Calif.)

Region: West | Record: 25-7 | PR: 17

17. Winter Park High School (Fla.)

Region: South | Record: 28-2 | PR: 18

18. Seneca Valley High School (Harmony, Pa.)

Region: Northeast | Record: 12-1 | PR: 19

19. Highland High School (Gilbert, Ariz.)

Region: West | Record: 39-5-1 | PR: 20

20. Pleasant Grove High School (UV) (Utah)

Region: West | Record: 18-4 | PR: 21

21. North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.)

Region: Northeast | Record: 12-1 | PR: 22

22. Needham High School (Mass.)

Region: Northeast | Record: 17-0 | PR: 13

23. Downers Grove South (Ill.)

Region: Midwest | Record: 29-5 | PR: 23

24. Barrington High School (Ill.)

Region: Midwest | Record: 33-3 | PR: 24

25. Freedom High School (Orlando, Fla.)

Region: South | Record: 29-4 | PR: 25

See the full regional rankings here.

- USA TODAY HSS Staff
2022 USA TODAY/American Volleyball Coaches Association boys volleyball regional rankings - Week 11

Here are the USA TODAY/American Volleyball Coaches Association regional volleyball rankings as of May 25, 2022.

West Region:  1. Sandra Day O’Connor High School (Phoenix, Ariz.)

Record: 44-0

2. Newport Harbor High School (Calif.)

Record: 28-5

3. Loyola High School (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Record: 23-4

4. St. Francis High School (Mountain View, Calif.)

Record: 38-2

5. Beckman High School (Irvine, Calif.)

Record: 39-5

6. Mira Costa High School (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)

Record: 20-11

7. Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Record: 25-5

8. Redondo Union High School (Calif.)

Record: 25-7

9. Highland High School (Gilbert, Ariz.)

Record: 39-5-1

10. Pleasant Grove High School (Utah)

Record: 18-4

11. Burroughs (Burbank, Calif.)

Record: 29-4

12. Shadow Ridge High School (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Record: 28-6

13. Springville High School (Utah)

Record: 18-1

14. Olympus High School (Holladay, Utah)

Record: 22-3-2

15. Upland (Calif.)

Record: 40-4

 

Midwest Region: 1. Roncalli High School (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Record: 35-1

2. St. Louis University High School (Mo.)

Record: 30-0

3. Marist High School (Chicago, Ill.)

Record: 32-2-1

4. Glenbard West High School (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)

Record: 32-3

5. Glenbrook North (Northbrook, Ill.)

Record: 26-3

6. Elder High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Record: 21-1

7. Lincoln Way East High School (Frankfort, Ill.)

Record: 29-6

8. Downers Grove South High School (Ill.)

Record: 29-5

9. Barrington High School (Ill.)

Record: 33-3

10. Hinsdale Central (Ill.)

Record: 30-5

11. Hamilton Southeastern High School (Fishers, Ind.)

Record: 32-6

12. Walnut Hills High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Record: 13-3

13. St. Ignatius High School (Cleveland, Ohio)

Record: 17-6

14. Stevenson High School (Lincolnshire, Ill.)

Record: 31-4

15. Plainfield East (Ill.)

Record: 30-5

 

Northeast Region: 1. Central Dauphin High School (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Record: 18-0

2. Seneca Valley High School (Harmony, Pa.)

Record: 12-1

3. North Allegheny High School (Wexford, Pa.)

Record: 12-1

4. Needham High School (Mass.)

Record: 17-0

5. Meadville High School (Pa.)

Record: 13-0

6. Southern High School (Manahawkin, N.J.)

Record: 29-0

7. Lower Dauphin (Hummelstown, Pa.)

Record: 16-1

8. Warwick (Pa.)

Record: 15-1

9. Scotch Plains-Fanwood (N.J.)

Record: 26-1

10. Cumberland Valley High School (Mechanicsburg, Pa.)

Record: 16-2

 

South Region:  1. Winter Park High School (Fla.)

Record: 28-2

2. Freedom High School (Orlando, Fla.)

Record: 29-4

3. Lake Mary High School (Fla.)

Record: 27-2

4. Cardinal Gibbons High School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Record: 28-3

5. Park Vista High School (Lake Worth, Fla.)

Record: 26-4

- Logan Newman
Calvin Johnson, Shannon Sharpe among Georgia HS Football Hall of Fame inductees

It’s been a long time coming: Georgia will have its own high school football hall of fame. Set to induct its inaugural class on Oct. 22, the HOF will include high school players and coaches from Georgia since the 1894 inception of the organized league, according to ScoreATL and the Georgia High School Football Historians website.

While the entire class is not yet clear, the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame released the nine players who will be automatic inductions. All nine are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This group is made up of Calvin Johnson (Sandy Creek), Champ Bailey (Charlton County), Ray Guy (Thomson), Fran Tarkenton (Athens), Mel Blount (Lyons Industrial), Shannon Sharpe (Glennville, Richard Dent (Murphy), Rayfield Wright (Griffin) and Jim Parker (Ballard-Hudson), according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

On Thursday, the Hall announced this group and released the names of 32 of the 100 players who will be part of the first ballot that is voted upon. That group of 32 includes Heisman Trophy winners George Rogers, Herschel Walker and Charlie Ward.

I.J. Rosenberg, the executive director of the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame, told AJC that these 32 players are not necessarily shoe-ins and the best candidates, but instead that they represent the entirety of the 100 because they are “a good mixture of what to expect when we finalize the nominee list.”

Of the 32, there were four players from each decade going back to 1950 and then four pre-1950. The rest of the 100 will be announced in June.

RelatedFootball & track star: 4-star CB Rodrick Pleasant breaks California 100-meter record

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- Logan Newman
Football & track star: 4-star CB Rodrick Pleasant breaks California 100-meter record

As the debate of multi-sport athletes vs. specialization rages on, a California football and track star has added a tally to the argument for spreading yourself out.

Rodrick Pleasant, a four-star cornerback at Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif.), proved that his dominance on the football field extends to the track. Pleasant set the California wind-legal record in the 100-meter dash at the Southern Section Masters Meet on Saturday.

His time of 10.14 seconds at the Southern Section Masters Meet broke the record of 10.25, which was set 37 years ago, according to the Los Angeles Times. For a race to be wind-legal, the tailwind cannot exceed than 2.0 meters per second.

MaxPreps posted a video of the race:

4-star CB Rodrick Pleasant ran the fastest wind legal 100 meters in state history. 10.14.

SHEESH! 💨 @RodrickP16 pic.twitter.com/Ooo01tojNg

— MaxPreps (@MaxPreps) May 21, 2022

That blistering acceleration and speed helps Pleasant on the football field, where he is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 9 cornerback and No. 71 player in the Class of 2023, and is on the recruiting site’s Composite Rankings as the 19th-best CB and 165-best player. Both 247 and its composite have him as a four-star player.

Pleasant has 25 football offers, according to 247. He cut the list in half in February when he announced his “top 13,” and his first official visit will be to Boston College in June, according to ON3. Other schools of interest include USC, Georgia and Oregon.

As he continues narrowing down his college choices, the athlete with finish up his junior year and continue to compete. Pleasant will take part in the state championships next weekend, according to the Times.

RelatedHS senior Erriyon Knighton becomes 4th-fastest 200m runner in history
- Rick Suter
25 of the greatest high school basketball players of all time

Choosing the most outstanding high school basketball players of all time is as difficult as it can be an argumentative stalemate.

It’s no secret that the game has changed, so looking at an icon from the 1960s might not equate to a player who dominated in the past five or so years.

But there is also an argument within the argument (the game behind the game, if you will) where historical talent is…well, historical talent—the fact that it occurred when Twitter didn’t exist has little meaning on the overall resume. And vice versa.

That thought process provided the foundation for answering our questions about the 25 greatest of all time. We wanted to look at dominant players throughout history—ones who could easily suit up and play tomorrow and have the same results as they would in any era.

Of course, the criteria needed more substantial elements beyond that as well. So, understanding that it would still finalize as an opinionated ranking, we included simple factors such as location and competition, plus weighed what the player meant to the team’s success—while trying our hardest not to consider what each player did after high school.

Once the research hoopla settled, we landed at these 25.

(2022’s best of the best: USA TODAY High Sports Super 25 Boys Basketball)

- Tyler Calvaruso
Friday Night Notes: Ohio State sets the pace for 2024 QB recruiting, Saban vs. Fisher, plus more

USA TODAY High School Sports‘ Friday Night Notes is a weekly high school football recruiting recap that looks at the latest news from around the country—from the Class of 2022 to ’23 and beyond.

Much of the focus in the recruiting world is currently on the class of 2023, but there has also been some recent movement in the class of 2024.

Five-star Chandler (Ariz.) quarterback Dylan Raiola recently committed to Ohio State, giving the Buckeyes an elite foundational piece for their 2024 class. Raiola’s commitment means a lot for the way the rest of the cycle will play out— not just for Ohio State, but also other blue blood programs around the nation.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into that in the latest edition of Friday Night Notes.

- Dave Hines
USA TODAY Sports/NFCA High School Super 25 softball rankings: Week 11

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Lake Creek won three more playoff games to remain the No. 1 team in the USA TODAY Sports/NFCA High School Super 25 for a ninth-straight week.

The (36-0) Lions defeated Waller twice late last week, then shut out Friendswood, 8-0, on Wednesday in the first game of their best-of-three Texas Class 5A regional semifinal series.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of movement below them following Oaks Christian’s 4-0 loss to Los Alamitos on Saturday in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semis.

Undefeated squads Roncalli (24-0), Benton (31-0) and Anthony Wayne (27-0), plus one-loss Riverton (21-1) comprise the rest of the revised first five. Lakewood Ranch (27-2) and Clovis North (21-2) are next, followed by No. 8 Neshoba Central (31-3) — which beat East Central, 13-4, on Wednesday to capture a ninth-straight Mississippi state 5A title — and Donovan Catholic (23-0).

Patterson Mill (19-0) replaced fellow Maryland school Damascus in the 15th spot this week, while Minnesota’s Rosemount (17-2) at No. 20 and Missouri’s Diamond (27-3) at No. 24 round out the Super 25 newcomers.

State rankings submitted by the 2022 NFCA High School Steering Committee are used to compile the USA TODAY Sports/NFCA High School Super 25. Teams are chosen based on performance, roster quality, strength of schedule, and active NFCA membership.

USA TODAY Sports/NFCA High School Super 25 Poll – May 19, 2022 1. Lake Creek (Texas)

Record: 36-0 | Previous Rank: 1

2. Roncalli (Ind.)

Record: 24-0 | Previous Rank: 4

3. Benton (Ark.)

Record: 31-0 | Previous Rank: 5

4. Anthony Wayne (Ohio)

Record: 27-0 | Previous Rank: 6

5. Riverton (Utah)

Record: 21-1 | Previous Rank: 7

6. Lakewood Ranch (Fla.)

Record: 27-2 | Previous Rank: 3

7. Clovis North (Calif.)

Record: 21-2 | Previous Rank: 8

8. Neshoba Central (Miss.)

Record: 31-3 | Previous Rank: 8

9. Donovan Catholic (N.J.)

Record: 23-0 | Previous Rank: 17

10. Oaks Christian (Calif.)

Record: 31-1 | Previous Rank: 2

11. Eastern Alamance (N.C.)

Record: 23-1 | Previous Rank: 11

12. North Augusta (S.C.)

Record: 29-2 | Previous Rank: 10

13. Lexington (S.C.)

Record: 25-2 | Previous Rank: 13

14. Alexander Central (N.C.)

Record: 25-2 | Previous Rank: 14

15. Patterson Mill (Md.)

Record: 19-0 | Previous Rank: NR

16. Jackson (Wash.)

Record: 20-2 | Previous Rank: 12

17. Immaculate Heart Academy (N.J.)

Record: 23-1 | Previous Rank: 16

18. Monroe-Woodbury (N.Y.)

Record: 17-0 | Previous Rank: 18

19. Concord (N.H.)

Record: 20-0 | Previous Rank: 19

20. Rosemount (Minn.)

Record: 17-2 | Previous Rank: NR

21. Allen Park (Mich.)

Record: 26-1-1 | Previous Rank: 20

22. New Palestine (Ind.)

Record: 20-3-1 | Previous Rank: 24

23. John Curtis (La.)

Record: 29-3 | Previous Rank: 23

24. Diamond (Mo.)

Record: 27-3 | Previous Rank: NR

25. Lakota West (Ohio)

Record: 24-3 | Previous Rank: 25

Dropped out: 

Damascus (Md.), Deer Park (Texas) and Marist (Ill.).

About the NFCA:

The NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded coaches polls and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to awards, to in-person events and National Convention.

- Rick Suter
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher fires back at Nick Saban's NIL remarks

Aggies football coach Jimbo Fisher wasted zero time responding to accusations made by Alabama’s Nick Saban that Texas A&M bought players under the guise of NIL deals.

“It’s despicable that a reputable head coach can come out and say this when he doesn’t get his way or things don’t go his way,” Fisher said. “The narcissistic in (Saban) doesn’t allow those things to happen. It’s ridiculous, when he’s not on top.”

The crux of this came about when Saban made comments Wednesday at an event promoting the World Games 2022 Birmingham, where he questioned the Aggies’ 2022 recruiting class—which ranked No. 1 according to the 247Sports Composite.

“We were second in recruiting last year,” Saban said. “A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn’t buy one player. But I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it.”

Saban’s comments were similar to the ones directed at Deion Sanders and Jackson State, a program that made major headlines after top recruit Travis Hunter flipped from Florida State to the HBCU school.

As expected, Sanders was quick to voice a rebuttal via social media.

Be sure to spread the truth like you spread the lies… (To whom it may concern) pic.twitter.com/mKJGPacBa7

— Tiger Talk with the 1400 Klub – The Podcast (@TigerTalk1400) December 16, 2021

Hunter also released a statement, which further shaded Saban’s allegations and backed the 5-star’s choice to head to JSU.

“I am making this decision so that I can light the way for others to follow, make it a little easier for the next player to recognize that (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) may be everything you want and more: an exciting college experience, a vital community, and a life-changing place to play football.”

So, what’s next?

In the slow days of early summer in the college football world and general sports news cycle, probably a lot.

And while we all await to see if Saban and Sanders will star in another Aflac commercial—both have the brand in their endorsement portfolio—most of the offseason attention will now be directed at Fisher, the first former Saban assistant to defeat the coach.

RelatedNick Saban says Alabama 'didn't buy' players; Deion Sanders responds to his accusation RelatedOhio administrators shoot down NIL proposal List Current high school NIL rules in each of the 50 states (plus D.C.)
- News Feed

By Steve DelVecchio, Larry Brown Sports: Lane Kiffin agrees with Nick Saban that the NCAA’s new Name, Image and Likeness

The post Lane Kiffin offers solution to growing NIL problem appeared first on SportsPac12.

- News Feed

By Scott Eklund, Dawgman: Washington has honed in on a couple of top 2023 quarterback candidates and one, T.F. Riggs

The post Husky 2023 QB target Lincoln Kienholz sets visit to Montlake appeared first on SportsPac12.

- News Feed

By Graham Metzker, Ducks Digest: The big names will be coming to Eugene throughout the summer. The remainder of the

The post Oregon set to host 4-star 2024 Texas CB commit this summer appeared first on SportsPac12.

- News Feed

By John Gasaway, ESPN: Welcome back to our continuing look at one key question in this transfer-obsessed era: Just how

The post ESPN: Best all-time basketball transfers in and out of every Pac-12 school appeared first on SportsPac12.

- News Feed

By Pac-12 Conference: Wednesday was another historic day for the Conference of Champions, as Stanford’s victory at the 2022 NCAA

The post Pac-12 becomes first conference to win 200 women’s NCAA championships appeared first on SportsPac12.

- News Feed

By Steve Lassan, Athlon Sports: The 2022 college football season is scheduled to officially begin on Saturday, Aug. 27, but

The post Athlon: College football top 25 rankings for 2022 appeared first on SportsPac12.

- News Feed

By Brandon Huffman, 247Sports:Sonora (Calif.) offensive lineman Roger Alderman is one of the top two-way lineman in Northern California. But the offensive

The post NorCal OL Roger Alderman has Pac-12 schools CU, Utah, Cal & UO sticking out appeared first on SportsPac12.

- News Feed

By Andrew Nemec, SBLive: The Pac-12 Conference has struggled in recent years to keep top talent close to home. But

The post Pac-12 football recruiting by the numbers: Trojans, Ducks fight for top spot appeared first on SportsPac12.

- News Feed

By Jon Wilner, Bay Area News Group via KSL.com: The foundation for recruiting success during the December signing window often

The post Wilner on Pac-12 recruiting: Receivers rule week for USC, Oregon & Washington appeared first on SportsPac12.

- Bryan Zarpentine

Even with the MLB trade deadline more than two months away, there are already Juan Soto trade rumors in 2022. With the Washington Nationals off to a terrible start and clearly going nowhere this season, there are rumblings that the team could trade Soto this summer.

With Soto being under team control for two years beyond this season, Soto being traded would be a little surprising and could be a monumental story if it ends up happening.

Juan Soto trade rumors in 2022

Rumors of Soto being traded come after Soto declined a 13-year, $350 million contract prior to the MLB lockout. Seeing as he’s still only 23 and already one of the biggest stars in the game, Soto’s career earnings could far surpass a $350 million contract. In fact, Soto’s contract length could surpass those 13 years if he were to hit the open market after the 2024 season. If Soto wasn’t willing to accept 13 years and $350 million from Washington, the Nats are surely feeling as if they will have to trade him at some point.

If they decide to trade him this summer with two and a half years left before he’s scheduled to hit free agency, they could demand a massive price for him.

Door open for an extension

Despite the Juan Soto trade rumors in 2022, it’s important not to jump the gun and assume he’ll be traded. After all, Soto is just 23 and young players signing a massive extension early in their career is very much in vogue right now. Ronald Acuna Jr. signed an eight-year, $100 million deal with the Braves the year after he won Rookie of the Year. Fernando Tatis Jr. signed a 14-year, $340 million deal with the Padres two years into his career. Wander Franco signed an 11-year, $182 million deal with the budget-conscious Rays with less than a year in the big leagues under his belt.

Much like Acuna, Tatis, and Franco, Soto is already a bonafide star early in his career. If he wanted to sign an extension with the Nationals, he wouldn’t have to worry about money or playing for a contract for the rest of his career.

With others following the same path, Soto could still change his mind and re-open negotiations with the team. Of course, Soto doesn’t need to rush, as he’s making $17.1 million this year and is likely to make even more than that in his last two years of being arbitration-eligible before hitting the open market after the 2024 season.

In everyone’s best interest?

Of course, the Nationals might have a different perspective on the situation. From Washington’s point of view, if Soto declined a 13-year, $350 million extension, he probably won’t accept an offer that they can afford. That’s why trading him this summer could be an appealing option. The Nats don’t look like a team that’s going to be competitive anytime soon. If they keep Soto until he hits free agency, he’ll likely put up big numbers and get paid a lot of money on a losing team, which would be wasteful.

But if the Nationals can find a taker for Soto this summer, the price they can demand in terms of prospects could help to accelerate their rebuilding efforts. In that sense, Soto is worth more on the trade market than he is on their roster.

Meanwhile, the team trading for him, even if they pay a massive price, would have Soto for at least two and a half years before he hits free agency. From Soto’s perspective, he’d presumably be on a winning team and would still have the option of signing an extension with that team or waiting until free agency to explore the open market. In that sense, the Nats trading Soto could be what’s best for everybody. 

Where’s the destination?

If the Juan Soto trade rumors for 2022 turn out to be true, where will he end up? Without question, there will be Soto to the Yankees rumors.

The Bronx Bombers are big spenders and one of the few teams that have the money to give Soto the kind of extension that he’s worth. Plus, while the Yankees are off to a great start in 2022, since they haven’t won a World Series since 2009, they could be willing to pay whatever price it takes to trade for Soto if they think it can deliver a championship.

The Blue Jays are another team that could make a push for Soto. Toronto has a wealth of young talent, some in the team’s farm system and some in the big leagues. The Jays are also lacking a left-handed bat, making Soto the perfect complement to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is also among the best sluggers in baseball.

Likewise, the Padres and White Sox are two teams that are loaded with young talent at the major league level that could be appealing to the Nationals. Adding three or four young players who are already in the big leagues and a few more prospects could be the type of trade offer that the Nationals covet if they decide to trade Soto. The Padres and White Sox would both be good fits in that sense.

Finally, the Mariners could be a wild card if Soto his the trade market this summer. If there’s one thing that GM Jerry Dipoto loves doing, it’s making trades. The Mariners also have a healthy farm system and several young players with high-end who have made it to the big leagues already, most notably outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic. Surely, Seattle could put together a package that would interest the Nats, as could other teams, which is why there is a distinct possibility that Soto could be traded this summer.

The post Debating the likelihood of a Juan Soto trade and possible destinations appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine

There is perhaps no list in baseball harder to come up with than the best starting pitchers ever. From the start of baseball history, the game has revolved around great starting pitchers.

It’s always been a prerequisite for success. That means there is well over a century’s worth of Hall of Fame pitchers in baseball history, making it tough to put together an accurate list of the greatest starters in MLB history.

Best starting pitchers of all time

In recent years, the argument over the best pitcher in baseball has been all about Kershaw vs Scherzer.

But imagine adding over a century’s worth of pitchers to that argument. Needless to say, it was a challenge limiting our list of the greatest starters in MLB history to the best 25. However, we were excited for the challenge, and so here is our ranking of the best starting pitchers ever.

25. John Smoltz

Granted, John Smoltz will lose some points on this list because he switched roles and became a reliever during the second part of his career. However, he still warrants mentioning among the best starting pitchers ever.

The first dozen years of his career were spent as a starter, and during that time, Smoltz was selected to four All-Star Games, led the National League in strikeouts twice, and won the Cy Young in 1996.

He was a major part of the Atlanta rotation that was dominant during the 1990s, winning at least 14 games seven times between 1990 and 1999. He also won 12 postseason games during that 10-year period, typically saving his best for when the spotlight was biggest.

24. Gaylord Perry

One of Gaylord Perry’s claims to fame is that he was the first pitcher to win a Cy Young in both leagues. He pitched 22 seasons with eight different teams, racking up 314 career wins and over 3,500 career strikeouts.

He also pitched a no-hitter and was named an all-star five times. Of course, it’s fair to mention that Perry was known for doctoring balls by throwing a spitball, although it wasn’t until late in his career that umpires called him out for it and punished him. Despite that little bit of controversy, the numbers speak for themselves in making Perry one of the best pitchers of all time.

23. Phil Niekro

Without question, Phil Niekro is the most accomplished knuckleballer in big league history. Throwing that pitch allowed him to stay in the majors for 24 seasons, winning 218 games while striking out over 3,300 batters and posting a 3.35 ERA.

He could also field his position as well, winning five Gold Gloves, matching his all-star selections. One could argue that his knuckleballer is one of the single best pitches that any pitcher in MLB history has ever thrown, as it would give batters fits at the plate and nightmares afterward.

22. Don Sutton

After pitching in the big leagues for 23 seasons, it’s no surprise that Don Sutton ranks near the top of the all-time list in wins, shutouts, and strikeouts. While he was only an all-star four times, Sutton showed incredible longevity, pitching from 1966 to 1988, winning 324 games and striking out over 3,500 batters.

In his 23 seasons, Sutton won at least 10 games in all but two seasons. He also threw five one-hitters and 10 two-hitters, not quite throwing a no-hitter but coming close on several occasions.

21. Bert Blyleven

While he wasn’t overly dominant, Bert Blyleven was nothing if not consistent, doing so over an extended period of time, which is what puts him on a list of the greatest starters in MLB history.

Despite only being an all-star twice, losing 250 games, and posting a somewhat modest 3.31 ERA, Blyleven won 287 games, putting him among the top-30 pitchers on the all-time list.

He also ranks fifth in career strikeouts with 3,701. Surprisingly, he only led the American League in strikeouts once, which is a sign of just how consistent Blyleven was over his 20-plus seasons in the majors.

20. Justin Verlander

Even before his career is over, Justin Verlander has a resume that makes him a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest starters in MLB history. He’s already surpassed 3,000 strikeouts, leading the American League in that category five times.

Early in his career, Verlander was a dominant power pitcher but has hardly slowed down in his 30s. He took home Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 and then Cy Young honors in 2011 and 2019, showing just how long he’s been able to maintain a high level. Verlander also won MVP honors in 2011 when he won the Triple Crown and has been named an all-star eight times and counting.

19. Max Scherzer

His career doesn’t need to be over for Max Scherzer to be considered among the all-time best starters. His competitiveness has always made him stand out, although his stuff is just as filthy.

With three Cy Young Awards on his resume, Scherzer is one of just six pitchers to win that award in both leagues. He’s also one of four pitchers to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game and one of three pitchers to throw three immaculate innings in his career.

Scherzer has already topped 3,000 career strikeouts, and if you take away the shortened 2020 season, he’s been an all-star every year since 2013 and counting.

18. Tom Glavine

Tom Glavine is the most recent and perhaps the last pitcher to surpass 300 career wins. He was a massive part of the Atlanta rotation that helped the Braves dominate the 90s but also a pitcher who showed incredible longevity.

The southpaw pitched for over two decades, going to the All-Star Game 10 times and winning two Cy Young Awards. Even when his velocity dropped, Glavine’s precision and outstanding changeup helped to keep him one step ahead of opposing hitters.

In addition to leading the National League in wins five times and being World Series MVP when the Braves won their title in 1995, Glavine also won four Silver Slugger Awards, handling the bat far better than most starting pitchers.

17. Roy Halladay

After he came close to pitching a no-hitter in his second career start in the big leagues, it was clear that Roy Halladay was destined to become one of the best starting pitchers ever. He did not disappoint, putting together an amazing career that included 203 wins and over 2,100 strikeouts with an ERA of 3.38.

While he didn’t quite pitch a no-hitter in his second career start, Halladay would eventually achieve baseball immortality by throwing a perfect game in 2010. Later that year, he became just the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter during the postseason.

Halladay’s resume also included two Cy Young Awards, helping to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer, although tragically he had to be inducted into Cooperstown posthumously after passing away in a small plane crash a little over four years after throwing his last pitch in the big leagues. 

16. Warren Spahn

Among left-handed starters, no starting pitcher collected more wins than Warren Spahn, who won 363 games over 21 seasons. One could say that he did nothing but win games, leading the National League in wins eight times.

The southpaw also led the league in strikeouts in four straight seasons from 1949 to 1952 and led the league in ERA three times. Spahn took home Cy Young honors in 1957 and was the runner-up in the voting on three other occasions.

While he didn’t have overpowering stuff, Spahn is regarded as one of the smartest pitchers in baseball history, knowing just what to do to upset a hitter’s timing. He finished his long career with 17 all-star selections, helping to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

15. Grover Alexander

Known colloquially as Old Pete, Grover Alexander pitched 20 seasons in the big leagues, racking up 373 wins and posting a career ERA of 2.56. During those 20 years, he won the Triple Crown three times and was the National League strikeout leader six times.

Keep in mind that he also spent a little time during his career in Europe serving in World War I. Among National League pitchers, Alexander’s 373 wins are tied for the most while his 90 career shutouts remain the record. Old Pete was also one of the best fielding pitchers of his generation and a more than capable hitter back when they let pitchers do that.

14. Lefty Grove

Lefty Grove pitched just long enough in the majors to win 300 games, helping him earn consideration as one of the greatest starters in MLB history. Those 300 wins give him a winning percentage of .680, which is eighth on the all-time list.

Of course, he has over 60 more wins than any of the other pitchers ahead of him on that list. He split his career between the Athletics and the Red Sox, helping the A’s win back-to-back World Series in 1929 and 1930 and being named MVP in 1931.

Despite only being a six-time all-star, Grove led the American League in strikeouts seven times and wins nine times, helping him win the Triple Crown in both 1930 and 1931.

13. Bob Gibson

For a while, Bob Gibson was the most dominant and intimidating pitcher in the big leagues. He’s easily the biggest reason why the mound had to be lowered in 1969 after Gibson registered a 1.12 ERA in 1968. Gibson played 17 seasons in the majors, all with the Cardinals.

He was a nine-time all-star and a two-time Cy Young winner. Naturally, he won both the Cy Young and MVP honors after his incredible 1968 campaign.

The guy could also field his position, winning nine straight Gold Gloves at one point. His 3,117 career strikeouts were good for second on the all-time list at the time of his retirement, helping to make Gibson a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

12. Roger Clemens

His connections to PEDs have surely tarnished his legacy to some extent, but it’s tough to argue against Clemens being among the best pitchers of all time. The guy threw serious heat, and even if steroids helped him later in his career, enabling Roger Clemens to stay in the big leagues for over 20 years, his legacy was already intact.

He won the Cy Young seven times, doing so in three different decades. Clemens is also the only pitcher to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game on two separate occasions. The records books say that Clemens won 354 games and struck out 4,600 batters, but even if you cut him off in 1998 when he first allegedly used PEDs, Clemens accomplished enough to get on this list.

11. Pedro Martinez

Most would consider Pedro Martinez to be undersized, but that didn’t stop him from being one of the best power pitchers of his generation. In his prime, Pedro’s stuff was utterly filthy. He had the lowest ERA in the majors five times and won the Cy Young three times, including in 1999 when he won the pitching Triple Crown.

If not for the injuries that slowed him down, he would rank much higher among the best starting pitchers ever. But anyone who watched Martinez in his prime knows that there was nobody better at that time.

10. Clayton Kershaw

Among modern pitchers, there’s no doubt that Clayton Kershaw is one of the best and more than deserving of mention among some of the best starting pitchers ever. He’s a lefty with a great curveball, helping draw comparisons to another longtime Dodger who is a little higher on our list.

Between 2011 and 2014, it was impossible to find a better pitcher, as Kershaw led the National League in ERA in all four seasons and won the Cy Young three times during that four-year stretch.

Of course, Kershaw has been excellent outside of those years, earning eight all-star selections. When all is said and done, Kershaw will likely finish his career with over 200 wins and 3,000 strikeouts, putting him in rarefied air.

9. Steve Carlton

Among southpaws, Steve Carlton is surely one of the greatest starting pitchers in baseball history. Randy Johnson is the only left-handed pitcher in baseball history with more strikeouts than Carlton.

With 329 career wins, he currently ranks 11th on the all-time list. Carlton took home four Cy Young Awards during his career, the first coming in 1972 and the last coming a decade later.

He was also a 10-time all-star and led the National League in strikeouts five times. Oddly enough, he holds the MLB record for most career balks. But that’s also because Carlton had a spectacular pick-off move, holding the all-time record for pickoffs by a wide margin.

8. Christy Mathewson

If you look at the top-10 in most pitching categories, Christy Mathewson’s name will be found time and time again. He pitched 17 seasons from 1900 to 1916 and was arguably the best pitcher of his era.

He led the National League in ERA and strikeouts five times each, twice winning the Triple Crown. Mathewson was one of the first five members of the Hall of Fame, earning over 90% of the vote. While not a huge strikeout pitcher, Mathewson finished his career with over 2,500 punch-outs, as well as 373 wins and a career 2.13 ERA.

7. Walter Johnson

Nearly a century after his career ended, Walter Johnson still owns several all-time records, including the most career shutouts with 110. That’s surely a record that will never be broken.

In his 21 seasons, Johnson led the league in strikeouts 12 times, ERA five times, and wins six times. He won the Triple Crown three times and MVP twice. In his career, Johnson racked up 417 wins and over 3,500 strikeouts with a career ERA of 2.17. Fittingly, Johnson was a part of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.

6. Tom Seaver

During the late 1960s and 70s, it was hard to find a better pitcher than Tom Terrific.

Tom Seaver’s delivery was almost painful to watch and his stuff was utterly nasty. That explains why he was a 12-time all-star, a three-time Cy Young winner, and led the National League in strikeouts five times.

Seaver was also the catalyst for the 1969 Miracle Mets. In his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot, Seaver earned over 98% of the vote, which says a lot about him. His 311 career wins and 3,640 career strikeouts make him one of two pitchers with over 300 wins, over 3,000 strikeouts, and an ERA under 3.00. He still ranks sixth on the all-time strikeout list and is one of two pitchers to ever strike out 10 consecutive batters. At his best, Seaver could make betters look foolish better than perhaps any other pitcher in baseball history.

5. Cy Young

There are reasons why the award for best pitcher every year is named after him. Obviously, Cy Young pitched in a different era, playing from 1890 to 1911. But he has the most wins in MLB history with 511, a record that will never be threatened.

But it wasn’t just longevity that got him there. Young led the league in wins five times and also threw three no-hitters, including a perfect game. Early in his career, Young was one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game, but like a true legend, he adjusted when his velocity dropped. That’s why he won 511 games and finished his career with a 2.63 ERA, making him one of the greatest starters in MLB history.

4. Randy Johnson

The Big Unit was one of the tallest pitchers in MLB history, and he knew how to use his size to dominate opposing hitters.

His resume includes 10 all-star selections, five Cy Young Awards, and a perfect game.

Johnson is also one of the few pitchers to throw no-hitters in both leagues and win the Cy Young in both leagues. It’s also important not to forget that he didn’t retire until he was 46. His longevity was quite impressive, enabling him to win over 300 games and rack up 4,875 strikeouts, which ranks second on the all-time list.

3. Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux might be the most complete pitcher in MLB history. He was more of a power pitcher early in his career but then developed into a pitcher with pinpoint control and an intellectual mastery of the game.

He was the leader of Atlanta’s amazing rotations during the 1990s, winning the Cy Young four straight years from 1992 to 1995.

For what it’s worth, Maddux also walked away with 18 Gold Gloves, winning the award every year except once between 1990 and 2008. In the last century, only Warren Spahn can top his 355 career wins. He is also the only pitcher in MLB history with over 300 wins, over 3,000 strikeouts, and less than 1,000 walks (999), making him something special.

2. Nolan Ryan

In terms of longevity and strikeouts, there is no doubt that Nolan Ryan is among the best starting pitchers ever. Even before teams became obsessed with velocity, Ryan was regularly hitting triple digits on the radar gun.

He remains the all-time leader in strikeouts with 5,714 and no-hitters with seven. It’d be shocking to see either of those records broken.

Ryan also threw 12 one-hitters and 18 two-hitters. In other words, when he was at his best, Ryan was close to untouchable. Even though he was a flamethrower, Ryan’s career lasted from 1966 to 1993, as he pitched across four decades, making the All-Star Team eight times and leading the league in strikeouts 11 times.

Somehow, he never won the Cy Young, although his 98.79% of votes on his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot says everything you need to know about where Ryan stands among the best pitchers in MLB history.

1. Sandy Koufax

There’s no question that Sandy Koufax is one of the greatest starters in MLB history.

The southpaw reached the majors when he was 19 and was retired by 31, giving him the distinction of being the youngest Hall of Famer in baseball history.

It also meant that he was in his prime for most of his career, explaining his seven all-star selections in 12 years.

In those 12 years, Koufax also led the National League in ERA five times and won the Triple Crown three times, also winning the Cy Young in each of those three seasons, as well as earning MVP honors in 1963.

The key to his career was Koufax’s curveball, which many believe is the best of all time. He was also a winner and a big-game pitcher, helping the Dodgers win four World Series during his career, winning World Series MVP twice.

The post 25 greatest starting pitchers in MLB history appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine

In the 21st century, the debate about the best overall hitter in baseball is likely to come down to Miguel Cabrera vs Albert Pujols.

While there have been other great hitters over the first 20 or so years of the 21st century, the comparison of Pujols vs Cabrera is inevitable.

Both have had distinguished careers and will go down as two of the best hitters of all time. But between the two of them, who had the better career? With both ready to call it a career after the 2022 season, this seems like the perfect time for this debate.

Miguel Cabrera vs Albert Pujols

Most fans could debate the Pujols vs Cabrera stats all day. The numbers on both sides are so good that it’ll make your head spin. To make a decision on Cabrera vs Pujols, we might have to dig a little deeper.

Of course, there is no wrong decision here, but with both careers near their conclusion and both players destined for Cooperstown, we wanted to make a choice and decide which player had the better career, Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols.

The early years

There are few players who hit the ground running in their big league career the way Pujols did. He made his MLB debut in 2001 at the age of 21 and was an instant star. The veterans in the St. Louis clubhouse wanted Pujols to make the opening day roster, which he did. Pujols joined the shortlist of rookies to hit 20 home runs before the start of July. But he didn’t stop at the midway point of the season, Pujols finished his rookie year batting .329 with 37 home runs and 130 RBIs, making him the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year.

His rookie year was no fluke either. While there was some dip in his second season, Pujols still finished the year with a .955 OPS. He made up for it the following year, batting a career-high .359 with an OPS of 1.106 in his third MLB season.

As for Cabrera, he was good but not quite that good during the early part of his big league career. He played just over half a season with the Marlins during his rookie season, batting .268 with an OPS of .793. Of course, Cabrera settled in nicely during his second season in the majors, batting .294 with 33 home runs. He would match those 33 home runs in his third season while also hitting over .300 for the first time, batting .323 with an OPS of .946 during his third season in the majors.

However, he didn’t quite make the same immense impact that Pujols did early in his career.

In their prime

While Cabrera was just 20 when he reached the majors, it didn’t take him long to move into the prime of his career. As mentioned, he hit over .300 in his third MLB season and would hit over .300 in all but one of the next 12 years.

During those 12 seasons, he averaged 33.4 home runs per season with a minimum of 103 RBIs in all but one of those 12 seasons. During that time, Cabrera was a perennial all-star and one of the most feared hitters in the majors, not to mention one of the most consistent. However, while his OPS was consistently over .900, it only eclipsed 1.000 three times.

Meanwhile, Pujols posted an OPS over 1.000 in eight of his first 10 seasons. Much like Cabrera, it didn’t take him long to settle into his prime. He hit a minimum of 30 home runs in each of his first 12 big league seasons.

In the 10 years between 2003 and 2010, Pujols surpassed 40 home runs eight times, averaging 40.4 home runs per season during those 10 years. Across that 10-year span, there was just one time that Pujols failed to reach 100 RBIs and just three years in which he didn’t produce an OPS over 1.000.

Golden years

Both Cabrera and Pujols continued to produce into their late 30s with Pujols playing into his 40s. Pujols started to see his numbers decline somewhat quickly after the 2012 season, which was his first season after signing a 10-year deal with the Angels. Starting with the 2013 campaign, Pujols never posted an OPS of .800 or higher. Despite mashing 40 home runs during the 2015 season, that was just one of two seasons after 2012 that he reached the 30 home run plateau.

His ability to hit for a high average also dropped considerably after 2012, never finishing higher than .272 during the final decade of his career.

Naturally, Cabrera saw his numbers start to drop, but not until after his 14th season in the majors whereas Pujols saw his numbers undoubtedly decline after 12 seasons.

After hitting 38 home runs in 2016, Cabrera’s power disappeared, relatively speaking. After that year, he never hit more than 16 home runs or 22 doubles in a given year. But to his credit, Cabrera continued to hit for a high average, never seeing his average dip below .249 in a season. In fact, he hit .299 with an OPS of .843 in 2018 despite being limited that year due to injuries.

The final numbers

Looking at their career numbers in the Miguel Cabrera vs Albert Pujols comparison, there is no doubt both are among the elite hitters in MLB history and deserve to be first-ballot Hall of Famers. Both have eclipsed 3,000 hits with Pujols having a few more career hits and RBIs because he reached the big leagues two years before Cabrera. 

In terms of power, Pujols has a reasonable edge with over 680 home runs, giving him a chance to push for 700 by the end of 2022. Cabrera, on the other hand, only surpassed 500 career home runs late in the 2021 season and won’t come close to matching Pujols in that category, even if he plays a few more years.

Yet, Pujols and Cabrera have an identical career OPS of .918. Also, Cabrera has been the better contact hitter over his career, owning an average of .310 while Pujols has seen his career average drop to .297 in recent years.

Award season

In terms of awards and distinctions, Cabrera was an 11-time all-star while Pujols was only selected to the Midsummer Classic 10 times. Of course, Pujols was an MVP three times while Cabrera only won MVP honors twice.

Pujols was also Rookie of the Year, an award Cabrera can’t claim as his own.

Cabrera was also a four-time batting champion, two-time home run leader, two-time RBI leader, and won the Triple Crown in 2012. For comparison, Pujols won just one batting title while leading his league in homers twice and RBIs just once. 

However, Pujols does have a slight edge on the defensive side of the ball, winning the Gold Glove twice and the Fielding Bible Award five teams. Cabrera, meanwhile, was never considered a strong defensive player, although he did offer more versatility than Pujols during his career and has been relegated to DH duty far less often than Pujols.

The verdict

There are truly no losers in the Miguel Cabrera vs Albert Pujols comparison.

As a well-rounded hitter who can hit for average and power, Cabrera surely gets the edge over Pujols. It also took him longer until his skills began to diminish.

That being said, in terms of the overall impact made during their careers, Pujols has a decided edge in both power and defensive contributions. The fact that he has one more MVP award, won Rookie of the Year, and was an immediate superstar as a rookie tips the scales toward Pujols when comparing what player had the better overall career.

The post Miguel Cabrera vs Albert Pujols: Who has had the greater career? appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine

No matter what, there will always be debates about the best MLB teams ever. Unfortunately, the greatest MLB teams of all time all played in different years and different generations, making it impossible for them to settle such a debate on the field.

But that shouldn’t stop fans and pundits from being able to debate the best baseball teams of all time and throw in their two cents.

Best MLB teams ever

Naturally, we wanted to be part of the conversation by ranking MLB teams’ all-time records, accomplishments, and talent. Our hope is that none of the most prestigious MLB teams in more than a century of baseball would be left off our list, so we extended it to the 25 greatest MLB teams of all time.

Even then, it was no easy task, but we had to draw a line in the sand somewhere. With that said, here is our list of the 25 best MLB teams ever.

25. 2002 Athletics

How about some love for the famous Moneyball A’s? They might have lost in the ALDS, but they did win 20 straight games at some point and then win 103 games during the regular season. Keep in mind they did all of that with such a tiny payroll.

But their budget-conscious lineup churned out enough runs to support the pitching trio of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder, creating the most unlikely candidate on our list of the best MLB teams of all time.

24. 2004 Red Sox

The first MLB team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series deserves to be on this list. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez both hit 40 home runs this year, so this wasn’t a bad team. There were also players like Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar making contributions.

Then there was the pitching staff led by Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Of course, after the comeback over the Yankees, Boston swept the Cardinals in the World Series to officially end the curse.

23. 1902 Pirates

This was in the era before the World Series, but the 1902 Pirates still deserve some recognition. Three different Pirates led the league in average, home runs, and RBIs.

Meanwhile, pitcher Jack Chesbro collected 28 wins. They finished the season 103-36 and led the National League in every major statistical category, utterly dominating their competition.

22. 1907 Cubs

Before their epic championship drought, the Cubs won back-to-back World Series, starting with the historically good 1907 team. With a record of 107-45, they crushed the competition in the National League thanks to five starting pitchers who made at least 27 starts and posted an ERA under 1.70.

While Game 1 of the World Series ended in a tie, the Cubs won the next four games to sweep the Tigers.

21. 1942 Cardinals

This won’t be the first time the Cardinals are mentioned on this list of the best MLB teams of all time, but this list wouldn’t be complete without the 1942 Red Birds.

St. Louis finished 106-48 on the season, needing every one of those wins, as the Cards beat out the Dodgers by just two games. The pitching tandem of Mort Cooper and Johnny Beazley dominated enough to get the Cards to the World Series, where they toppled the Yankees in five games.

20. 1955 Dodgers

The Dodgers have had some great teams, but the 1955 team deserves special recognition. They captured the first World Series win in franchise history, finally beating the Yankees after losing five World Series to their crosstown rivals dating back to 1941. Roy Campanella took home MVP honors that year while Duke Snider finished second. Gil Hodges had a big year while Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson were also productive players, so this team was loaded.

The team’s pitching was good but not great, as Sandy Koufax was only a rookie at the time. But the Dodgers had a lineup that was deep and able to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the World Series to beat the Yankees in seven games.

19. 1905 Giants

Back when they were in New York, the 1905 Giants became something special. They won 105 games during the regular season, needing to keep up a high level of play with two other teams winning over 90 games.

Hall of Fame manager John McGraw led the team with Hall of Famers Joe McGinnity, Christy Mathewson, and Roger Bresnahan leading the way with help from Mike Donlin, who batted .356.

Matthewson was brilliant, winning 31 games with a 1.28 ERA. The Giants then cruised to a World Series title, beating the Athletics in five games in a New York-Philadelphia World Series.

18. 1929 Athletics

Back when they were located in Philadelphia, the A’s had one of the best MLB teams of all time. The legendary Connie Mack was the manager, leading the A’s to 104 wins during the regular season and their first of back-to-back championships.

Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, and Jimmie Foxx highlighted an epic lineup that ran away with the American League pennant by 18 games and crushed the Cubs in the World Series, winning in five games.

17. 1984 Tigers

This team was one of the few to have a pitcher win both the Cy Young and MVP, a feat accomplished by Willie Hernández. Of course, Hernández was a reliever, pitching in support of three starters who won at least 17 games.

The lineup with Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, and Chet Lemon was good too. After winning 104 games during the regular season, the Tigers were 7-1 in the postseason, beating a strong San Diego team in the World Series in five games.

16. 2001 Mariners

Despite losing in the ALCS, the 2001 Mariners have to be included on our list of the best baseball teams of all time after winning a record 116 games during the regular season. Of those 116 wins, 59 came by at least four runs, so they weren’t just beating teams, they were dominating them.

Outside of Ichiro and Edgar Martinez, the lineup wasn’t exactly filled with stars. However, Bret Boone had 37 homers and 141 RBIs. He might have been MVP if not for Ichiro, who won the batting title and led the American League in stolen bases, winning MVP and Rookie of the Year. The playoff loss aside, Boone, Ichiro, and six other all-stars led what should be considered among the best teams in MLB history.

15. 1932 Yankees

Get used to seeing the Yankees on our list of the best MLB teams ever because they are going to be frequent participants. One of the best Yankees teams of yesteryear came in 1932, which was the first of five World Series wins that decade.

They finished the year with 107 wins thanks to five of their regulars hitting .300 or better. That team also included nine Hall of Famers, including the great Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The Bronx Bombers won the American League comfortably and then dominated the Cubs in the World Series, outscoring them 37-19 during a four-game sweep.

14. 1989 Athletics

While they only won 99 games during the regular season, this team had all of the ingredients of one of the all-time greats. Keep in mind this was the second of three-straight trips to the World Series for Oakland, but the A’s only championship. Mark McGwire and Dave Parker provided power.

Rickey Henderson provided the speed and was absolutely electric in the postseason. On the mound, Dave Stewart won 21 games while both Mike Moore and Storm Davis had 19 wins apiece with Dennis Eckersley amassing 33 saves. This was a complete team and that was obvious in the postseason, as Oakland won the ALCS in five games and swept the Giants in the World Series.

13. 1968 Tigers

This was the year of Denny McLain, who won 31 games while posting a 1.96 ERA in 1968, earning him Cy Young and MVP honors. The rest of the Detroit rotation was outstanding this year as well, leading the way on a team that won 103 games during the regular season.

Offensively, the 1968 Tigers weren’t anything special, although they did have three players with at least 25 home runs and had Hall of Famer Al Kaline coming off the bench. The Tigers also overcame a 3-1 deficit in the World Series against a St. Louis team that won the World Series the previous year.

That includes road wins in Game 6 and Game 7, putting the 1968 Tigers in the conversation for the best MLB team ever.

12. 1995 Braves

If only the Braves could have won more championships during their amazing run during the 90s, they’d likely have more teams listed among the best MLB teams ever. But the 1995 Braves were the ones that won it all. While they only won 90 games during the regular season, they were on pace for 101 if the season hadn’t been shortened by the strike.

Naturally, Atlanta’s rotation led the way with Greg Maddux having an amazing season, going 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 10 complete games. Tom Glavine and John Smoltz also had good seasons to help support a balanced and deep lineup. This team also went 11-3 in the postseason, making it look easy in October.

11. 1969 Mets

While this team was known as the Miracle Mets, there was nothing miraculous about this season. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman combined for 42 wins and both had an ERA under 2.30 while a young Nolan Ryan was also a part of this team.

Behind such amazing pitching, the Mets swept the Braves in the NLCS and then took care of the Orioles in five games to win the World Series. Keep in mind that the Orioles won 109 games during the regular season and looked unstoppable, making the 1969 Mets something special.

10. 1967 Cardinals

With Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Lou Brock, and Orlando Cepeda on this team, the 1967 Cardinals had it all.

In addition to Brock and Cepeda, Tim McCarver, Curt Flood, and others also had standout seasons, although it was Cepeda who took home MVP honors this year. On the mound, Dick Hughes out-pitched both Carlton and Gibson this year. Ultimately, the Cards won 101 games and while they needed seven games, they beat the Red Sox to win the World Series.

9. 2018 Red Sox

Compared to Boston’s other championship teams, the 2018 Red Sox were the best, winning 108 games during the regular season. Mookie Betts won MVP and the batting title with J.D. Martinez finishing second behind him in batting average.

The team’s pitching was good too, especially Chris Sale, but it was Boston’s lineup that gave opposing teams so much trouble. After dominating during the regular season, the Red Sox were 11-3 in the playoffs, beating three quality teams, including two other teams that won at least 100 games that season.

8. 1939 Yankees

This was one of the greatest Yankees teams of all time and a memorable season because it was the last in Lou Gehrig’s great career. Even though the Yankees played most of the season without Gehrig, the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Charlie Keller both had outstanding seasons with DiMaggio batting .381 with 30 home runs.

They won 106 games during the regular season, winning the pennant with a 17-game cushion before sweeping the Reds in the World Series, outscoring them 20-8.

7. 1976 Reds

Everyone agrees that Cincinnati was better the following year, although the back-half of Cincinnati’s back-to-back titles was also one of the best MLB teams ever.

Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Ken Griffey, and others all had great seasons. After winning 102 games during the regular season, the 1976 Reds became the first and only team to go undefeated in the playoffs since the start of divisional play, sweeping both the Phillies and Yankees.

6. 1927 Yankees

The 1927 Yankees won only the second World Series in franchise history but also put together one of the best seasons in franchise history. This was the team that first team whose lineup earned the nickname of Murderers’ Row.

Babe Ruth hit .356 with 60 home runs while Lou Gehrig hit .373 with 47 home runs. On top of those two, there were four other players who batted over .300 for the Yankees that season.

With Waite Hoyt and Urban Shocker, the team’s pitching was better than most people realize. With that balance of hitting and pitching, the 1927 Yankees won 110 games and despite some competitive games in the World Series, swept the Pirates in four games.

5. 1998 Yankees

This was the first of three straight Yankee teams to win the World Series and was arguably the best of the bunch and arguably the best team of all time. The lineup was as deep and as balanced as they get with four everyday players hitting .300 or better and six players hitting at least 19 home runs.

Pitching-wise, there were five starters with at least 12 wins, including David Cone, who won 20 games. From start to finish, this team was dominant, winning 114 games during the regular season. They were just as dominant during the playoffs, going 11-2, including a four-game sweep of the Padres in the World Series, scoring twice as many runs.

4. 1986 Mets

Most people remember 1986 for the crazy ending to Game 6 in which the Mets were one out away from losing. But they forged that comeback to win the series, helping to solidify their standing as one of the best MLB teams ever. The NL East was more or less won by June, as the Mets ended up winning the division by 21.5 games.

The lineup wasn’t filled with a lot of superstars, but they were deep and got plenty of help from the bench. They also had four starters win at least 15 games with Bob Ojeda, Ron Darling, and Dwight Gooden posting an ERA under 3.00.

Of course, the 1986 Mets had to win two competitive and memorable postseason series and had to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the World Series. The 1986 Mets surely toed the line between winning a championship and not, but they were also one of the most complete teams in big league history. 

3. 1970 Orioles

The 1969 Orioles had come up short in the World Series, but in 1970, Baltimore came back on a mission. Three members of the pitching staff won at least 20 games while Frank Robinson and Boog Powell led a strong lineup.

No other team had a chance, as the Orioles won 108 games and ran away with the AL East with a 15-game cushion. After that, the postseason was a cakewalk, as Baltimore outscored the Twins 27-10 over three games and then took care of the Reds in five games.

2. 1975 Reds

This was the first of Cincinnati’s back-to-back World Series wins and easily better than they were the following year. They put together the second-best home record in big league history, making them one of the best MLB teams ever.

For the season, the Reds won 108 games behind Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, and three 15-game winners on the pitching staff. They finished the season with a 20-game cushion in the NL West, although they were pushed to seven games in the World Series by the Red Sox but ultimately won a championship.

1. 1961 Yankees

Out of all of the championship teams in Yankees history, the 1961 team stands out as one of the best MLB teams ever. Most fans remember that this is the year that Roger Maris broke the single-season home run record with 61 long balls. Maris also had 142 RBIs while Mickey Mantle had 54 home runs and 128 RBIs, which shows just how dangerous New York’s lineup was this year.

They weren’t great out of the gate but the Yankees ended up with 109 wins this year, winning at least 20 games in June, July, August, and September.

They also had to hold off another 100-win team in the American League before taking care of business against the Reds, winning the World Series in five games.

The post Ranking the 25 greatest teams in MLB history appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine

There might be no more difficult task for NFL fans than picking and choosing the best running backs of all time. The great quarterbacks are often obvious, but there have been so many running backs to make an impact over the years that choosing the best RBs ever is no easy task.

So many running backs are a dime a dozen, making it difficult at times to pick out the greatest running backs ever from a large pool of candidates.

Best running backs of all time

Despite the great challenge, we have done our best to pick out the 20 best RBs in NFL history. After all, the best of the best have always been able to stick out in a crowd. The problem is only being able to limit it to the 20 greatest running backs of all time so that the best of the best truly get the recognition they deserve.

With that, here are the 20 best running backs of all time.

20. Terrell Davis

His career may have been a little short, but it packed a lot of punch. In his first four seasons, Terrell Davis rushed for over 6,400 yards and 56 touchdowns. That includes the 1998 season when he took home MVP honors after rushing for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.

He was also a three-time Pro Bowler and helped the Broncos back-to-back two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl MVP honors in the first win, accomplishing a lot in a brief period of time.

19. John Riggins

While John Riggins didn’t always put up gaudy numbers, he was a tough runner.

He also played 15 seasons and had a nose for the end zone. Despite only making the Pro Bowl once, Riggins owns a lot of NFL records, most of which are related to being the oldest running back to accomplish something.

18. Jerome Bettis

True to his name, The Bus was hard to stop once he got going.

He also kept running for a long time, playing 13 seasons and going to the Pro Bowl six times. For his career, Jerome Bettis averaged over 1,000 yards per season and finally won a Super Bowl in the final season of his Hall of Fame career.

17. Frank Gore

In terms of durability, there aren’t many running backs who can top Frank Gore. He played 16 seasons, which is why he ranks third in NFL history in rushing yards with an even 16,000.

But he also spent a significant part of his career as one of the top backs in the league, going to the Pro Bowl five times.

In fact, he had nine 1,000-yard seasons and had 11 seasons with over 900 rushing yards. The bottom line is that he was a productive back for a long time.

16. Thurman Thomas

Thurman Thomas is far more than just a guy who lost four straight Super Bowls with the Bills. He’s a Hall of Famer who went to five straight Pro Bowls during the prime of his career and also took home MVP honors in 1991 after amassing more than 2,000 all-purpose yards.

Thomas rushed for over 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons at one point, making him one of the best running back of all time despite occasionally being overlooked. 

15. Gale Sayers

In his day, Gale Sayers was as fast and elusive as any running back. If he had played more than seven seasons, he’d be much higher on our list of the best running back of all time.

RIP to one of the All Time Greats Gale Sayers! pic.twitter.com/ZWty1Eypbp

— The Halatek Hall Show (@HalatekHall) September 23, 2020

But in those seven years, Sayers won Rookie of the Year, led the NFL in rushing twice, and was named a First-Team All-Pro on five occasions. He really only played five seasons before knee injuries got the best of him. But when he was healthy, Sayers was the toughest guy in the NFL to tackle.

14. Curtis Martin

Curtis Martin rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons in the NFL, which sounds simple but is no easy feat.

Oddly enough his 10th season was his best, as he rushed for 1,697 yards to lead the league.

Of course, there’s no question that he was one of the best running backs in the league throughout those 10 years, making the Pro Bowl five times. There is no question that Martin earned his spot in Canton and deserves to be mentioned among the best running backs of all time.

13. O.J. Simpson

Of course, nothing O.J. Simpson did on the field matters that much after what he did off the field. But he is a former MVP who led the NFL in rushing four times in a five-year span.

12. Tony Dorsett

Tony Dorsett is a good example of one of the players on our list of the best running backs of all time who was a little undersized but more than made up for it.

After winning the Heisman, he made an instant impact as a rookie, rushing for over 1,000 yards and winning Rookie of the Year. Dorsett would end up averaging over 1,000 yards per season during his Hall of Fame career.

11. Franco Harris

Franco Harris played in a different era and was more of a fullback than the running backs we see today. During his 13 seasons, Harris went to the Pro Bowl nine times, including the year he led the league in rushing.

Of course, he’s also known for helping the Steelers win four Super Bowls, taking home Super Bowl MVP honors after rushing for 158 yards in Super Bowl IX.

10. Marcus Allen

While there are better running backs, Marcus Allen might be the most accomplished running back in NFL history. During his career, he won Offensive Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, MVP, and Super Bowl MVP.

He was also a six-time Pro Bowler who played 16 seasons in the league, racking up over 12,000 rushing yards. He also became the first running back in league history to eclipse 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards in his career.

9. LaDainian Tomlinson

LaDainian Tomlinson entered the league with high expectations and he came close to living up to them. While he was only a five-time Pro Bowler in 11 seasons, he led the NFL in rushing twice and rushing touchdowns three times.

LaDainian Tomlinson, who turns 40 today, was one of the best to ever do it. Here are some reasons why:

(via @nflthrowback)pic.twitter.com/hB0icpQrZE

— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) June 23, 2019

Tomlinson also had an amazing season in 2006 when he took home MVP honors after rushing for 1,815 yards while setting an all-time record with 28 rushing touchdowns. Like many 21st-century running backs, Tomlinson was a dual-threat, which is why he ranked seventh all-time in all-purpose yards at the time of his retirement, as well as second in rushing touchdowns.

8. Earl Campbell

After winning the Heisman and being selected first overall in the 1978 Draft, Earl Campbell only played eight seasons in the NFL.

But he made good use of that time, winning Rookie of the Year in 1978 and winning MVP the following year. Campbell also led the NFL in rushing in three straight seasons early in his career and ended up going to five Pro Bowls.

But six seasons into his career, the punishment he took during games started to take its toll on Campbell. But while he was in the league, it was hard to find a better running back. 

7. Marshall Faulk

In the modern era, Marshall Faulk is one of the few running backs to win MVP honors. He was also Offensive Player of the Year in three straight years while he was a key figure in the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

During those years with the Rams, Faulk was close to unstoppable as both a runner and a pass-catcher. He finished his career with seven Pro Bowl selections and remains the only player in NFL history with over 12,000 career rushing yards and 6,000 receiving yards.

6. Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is without question one of the most physically gifted running backs to ever play the game. He was a man among boys in college and made an immediate impact as a rookie, earning Rookie of the Year honors while rushing for 296 yards in a single game, setting a new NFL record.

He would go on to lead the league in rushing three times, including the 2012 season when Peterson won MVP honors after he came within nine yards of setting the all-time single-season rushing record. While he had some off-field issues, on the field, Peterson was an absolute beast throughout his career.

5. Eric Dickerson

Until he got to the NFL, Eric Dickerson was on another level compared to the players around him. Even as a professional, he often looked like he should be in another league.

At 6’3’’ and 220 pounds, Dickerson on the loose was like trying to stop a freight train. He simply had too much power and speed to handle.

Eric Dickerson really doesn’t get talked about enough these days. Dominant. pic.twitter.com/B877Nu71VC

— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) November 19, 2020

That’s why he led the NFL in rushing four times, including the year he set the record for rushing yards by a rookie and the all-time single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards. It’s hard to imagine him only being fifth on our list, but there were indeed four other running backs who were just a hair better.

4. Emmitt Smith

To date, Emmitt Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, so there is no question he’s one of the best running backs of all time.

He’s also the all-time leader in rush attempts and rushing touchdowns.

Of course, he played 14 seasons, which is a much longer shelf-life than most NFL running backs. But Smith is also undersized, so the fact that he was able to show such longevity is impressive. He also led the NFL in rushing four times, won MVP honors in 1993, and was a huge part of the Cowboys winning three Super Bowls.

3. Barry Sanders

While undersized, Barry Sanders had as much shake, wiggle, and elegance as any running back to ever play in the NFL. His ability to stop on a dime and change directions might never be matched by any other running back.

Yet, he only decided to play 10 seasons, going to the Pro Bowl in all 10 of those seasons while leading the league in rushing four times.

Sanders also won MVP honors in 1997, his penultimate season. Over his 10 years, Sanders averaged over 1,500 yards per season, and if he had played just one more year and hit that average, he would have retired as the all-time leading rusher.

2. Walter Payton

Walter Payton passed away far too soon, but he was something special, especially during his 13 years in the NFL. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in 10 of those seasons, going to nine Pro Bowls and winning MVP honors in 1977.

That one time Walter Payton threw two touchdown passes against the Saints just because he could.

pic.twitter.com/pleoO1rze4

— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) September 7, 2021

Payton wasn’t the biggest running back to ever play the game, but he was strong and knew how to move. He was also far ahead of his time in terms of running backs being used in the passing game. At the time of his retirement, he had racked up over 16,000 yards on the ground and over 4,500 passing yards, which at the time was more than any other non-receiver.

1. Jim Brown

If we’re being honest, Jim Brown is the best player in NFL history and arguably the best pro athlete ever.

The guy was a four-sport star in college and had a memorable, albeit brief NFL career in Cleveland, only playing nine seasons. Brown was just bigger, faster, and stronger than everyone else of his era, which explains why he won three MVP Awards in nine seasons and led the NFL in rushing eight times in those nine years.

He remains the only player to average over 100 rushing yards per game for his entire career. Even in today’s game, someone with Brown’s skill set would be too much to handle. There’s no way that we could put him anywhere but at the top of our list of the best running backs of all time.

The post 20 greatest running backs in NFL history appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine

In sports, there might be nothing more difficult than hitting a baseball, which is why the best switch hitters of all time deserve special recognition.

Not only can they hit the ball from their dominant side but the greatest switch hitters in baseball history can hit from both sides of the plate, which is even more challenging. It only seems fair to give them their due and acknowledge their special skills.

Best switch hitters of all time

But who is the greatest switch hitter ever? There are quite a few players who deserve consideration for that title. In fact, we decided to extend our list to the 10 greatest switch hitters in baseball history.

Even then, it wasn’t so easy to decide what hitters stand out from the pack. Nevertheless, here is our list of the 10 best switch hitters in MLB history. 

10. Chili Davis

Chili Davis had a rather underrated career in the big leagues. He was a three-time all-star and also earned three World Series rings. More importantly, he was the first person born in Jamaica to reach the big leagues.

His 350 career home runs rank seventh all-time among switch hitters. There were also 11 occasions when Davis hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same game, a feat that only four other switch hitters have matched or surpassed.

9. George Davis

George Davis is a true old-timer who played from 1890 to 1909. He was a versatile player who was primarily a shortstop but could play just about anywhere on the diamond.

He was also a switch hitter who batted .295 and had 2,665 career hits over his 20 seasons. In 1998, the Veterans Committee selected Davis to the Hall of Fame.

8. Bernie Williams

Bernie Williams was one of the most well-rounded outfielders of his day, batting .297 during his career and winning four Gold Gloves. Naturally, he was a switch hitter who could get it done on both sides of the plate, batting .292 left-handed and .308 right-handed.

He also showed more power from the right side, hitting 107 home runs as opposed to 180 home runs from the left side despite over twice as many at-bats as a left-handed hitter. During his peak years, Williams was an all-star in five straight seasons while also helping the Yankees to collect four World Series rings in a five-year span.

7. Tim Raines

While most people probably remember Tim Raines for his speed, he was also a great switch hitter who batted .294 over his career with over 2,600 career hits.

Keep in mind his career spanned four decades from 1979 to 2002. In his prime, Raines made seven straight All-Star Teams, and in 1986, he became just the third switch hitter to win the NL batting title.

Among switch hitters, Raines ranks among the top-five in runs and walks, as well as sixth in career hits among switch hitters.

6. Roberto Alomar

Before a rather steep decline late in his career, Roberto Alomar spent a decade as one of the best offensive and defensive hitters in baseball. He made 12 straight all-star appearances from 1990 to 2001 and retired with a career batting average of .300.

His splits are a little bit wider than some others, as he hit .314 from the left side and just .267 from the right side. But most big leaguers wouldn’t mind batting .267, much less doing so from their weaker side.

5. Pete Rose

There are very few things that Pete Rose didn’t do well, so it’s not a surprise that he was an excellent switch hitter. As everyone knows, he’s the all-time hit leader. Among switch hitters, Rose also owns the all-time record for most total bases, most doubles, most runs scored, and even most walks.

From the right side, he hit .292 with a .738 OPS, and from the left side, he hit .295 with a .766 OPS. It doesn’t get more balanced than that for a switch hitter. The only reason he doesn’t rank higher on our list of the best switch hitters of all time is that Rose didn’t hit for as much power as those ahead of him. However, his 4,256 career hits as a switch hitter help his case.

4. Carlos Beltran

The key with switch hitters is balance, and Carlos Beltran undoubtedly had that. As a right-handed hitter, he batted .280 with an OPS of .842 while he hit .279 with an OPS of .834 from the left side. It’s almost unfathomable to think of a player who could be so equally proficient from both sides of the plate.

On top of that, Beltran finished his career with over 2,700 hits and 435 home runs. He became just the fourth switch hitter to surpass the 400 home run plateau and the fourth switch hitter to rack up more than 1,500 RBIs. Beltran was also a nine-time all-star, even doing so in his 19th of 20 seasons, which also says a lot about him.

3. Chipper Jones

In his career, Chipper Jones was a .303 hitter, batting .294 from the right side and .303 from the left side. There was virtually no difference in his production regardless of whether he was facing a lefty or a righty, especially if he was facing the Mets, who he torched time and time again.

Among switch hitters, Jones is the only player to finish his career with at least 5,000 at-bats, a .300 average, a .400 on-base percentage, and a .500 slugging percentage.

He’s also the only switch hitter to hit over .300 in his career while also collecting at least 400 home runs. The eight-time all-star and first-ballot Hall of Famer finished his career with over 2,700 hits and 468 home runs. He’s also second all-time in RBIs among switch hitters.

2. Eddie Murray

As a hitter, Eddie Murray was consistent almost to the point of behind boring. There was little difference in his performance from either side of the plate. As a left-handed hitter, Murray hit .293 with an OPS of .860 while he hit .276 with an OPS of .785 from the right side.

His ability to hit from both sides of the plate helped to make Murray one of just seven players with over 500 home runs and over 3,000 hits. He’s simply one of the best overall hitters in baseball history, making the All-Star Team eight times and collecting more RBIs than any other player during the 1980s.

1. Mickey Mantle

There’s no doubt that Mickey Mantle belongs at the top of any list of the greatest switch hitters in baseball history.

Of course, he’s a 20-time all-star, three-time MVP, and one of the best offensive players in baseball history, so it’s not exactly a stretch to think he was the best switch-hitter ever. In fact, he’s the only Triple Crown winner who was a switch hitter.

There were rumors that he nearly gave up switch-hitting midway through his career because of a shoulder injury, but Mantle denied those rumors. As a right-handed batter, he hit .330 during his career, which was considerably better than his .281 average from the left side.

But hitting over .280 from both sides of the plate is no small feat. Plus, if it wasn’t for that shoulder injury hindering him late in his career, there’s no question Mantle would have finished his career hitting over .300.

The post 10 greatest switch hitters in MLB history appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine

In baseball, most fans pay attention to the power hitters who drive in runs, but it’s important not to overlook the best leadoff hitters of all time.

After all, the best leadoff hitters are the ones who are getting on base and scoring the runs when the power hitters drive them home. Plus, many of the best leadoff hitters of all time are also among the fastest baseball players in MLB history, which is another reason why the best leadoff hitters deserve recognition.

Best leadoff hitters of all time

But who is the best leadoff hitter in baseball history? As we’ll see, it’s a somewhat easy question, but there are also other leadoff hitters who deserve to be recognized.

That’s why we put together a list of the 10 best leadoff hitters in baseball history. While we expect some to disagree with the order, here is our top-10 countdown to the greatest leadoff hitter of all time.

10. Kenny Lofton

For much of his career, Kenny Lofton’s game was all about speed, which naturally made him one of the great leadoff hitters of his era. As an athlete, Lofton was on another level, actually going to Arizona on a basketball scholarship.

When he got to the big leagues, Lofton led the American League in stolen bases for five straight years, collecting 622 stolen bases during his career. He was also a .299 career hitter, so he had no problem getting on base, where he could use his speed to torture opposing teams. 

9. Craig Biggio

Craig Biggio is a bit of an anomaly because he’s a former catcher who became one of the top leadoff hitters of his generation. But the move to second base allowed him to showcase a little more of his speed. Biggio then combined that with his ability to hit for both average and power, not to mention his never-ending hustle.

Those are all ingredients that made him a great leadoff man over his 20 seasons in the majors. During that time, he racked up over 3,000 hits and 291 home runs while also stealing 414 bases. Biggio could do it all, and he did it from the leadoff spot, including 53 leadoff home runs, which ranks near the top of the all-time list.

8. Wade Boggs

Despite leading off in just under 50% of his games, Wade Boggs still gets credit for being one of the best leadoff hitters of all time. After all, we’re talking about a five-time batting champion and a .328 career hitter.

Even if he didn’t take as many walks as some of the other great leadoff hitters, Boggs could get himself on base, at one point batting over .350 in four straight seasons. While his power and speed were a little lacking, his ability to hit for a high average helped to make him a great leadoff hitter.

7. Pete Rose

As the all-time MLB leader in hits, Pete Rose knew how to get on base, making him the perfect leadoff hitter. He spent roughly two-thirds of his distinguished career hitting out of the leadoff spot and starting rallies.

Rose didn’t have the type of power or speed that teams sometimes like in a leadoff hitter, but he batted .303 in his career with 160 home runs, so he showed a little power. More than that, the 17-time all-star was always getting on base by walk or hit, making him an ideal leadoff candidate.

6. Lou Brock

As one of the most prolific base stealers in baseball history, Lou Brock was a natural in the leadoff spot. When the Cardinals won the World Series in 1964 and 1967, Brock was usually the catalyst at the top of the order.

During his career, he collected 928 stolen bases, leading the National League in stolen bases eight times. On top of that, Brock was a .293 career hitter with over 3,000 hits. In other words, he was always getting on base and always stealing bases, which is exactly what you want from a leadoff hitter.

5. Richie Ashburn

During the 1950s, there was no better leadoff hitter than Richie Ashburn. He was a great contact hitter and had just enough speed to make him the ideal leadoff man.

The Philadelphia legend only led the National League in stolen bases once, doing so as a rookie. But he did win two batting titles and was named an all-star six times. Ashburn was also recognized for his patience and control of the strike zone, as well as his hustle, which are also traits that make him one of the best leadoff hitters of all time.

4. Paul Molitor

When your nickname is The Ignitor, it’s a safe bet that you’re a great leadoff hitter. That was surely the case with Paul Molitor, who racked up over 3,300 hits and more than 500 stolen bases in his career.

He is one of five players in MLB history with at least 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases who also hit over .300 with Ichiro being the only other player on that list who played after World War II.

Out of those five players, Molitor is the only one with more than 200 career home runs, making the seven-time all-star one of the better power hitters among the great leadoff hitters in MLB history.

3. Ichiro Suzuki

In baseball history, there are few players who have the type of approach that fits the leadoff spot better than Ichiro Suzuki. He was always looking to hit for contact and find a way on base, explaining his .311 career batting average and his 3,089 career hits.

After all, he set the MLB record for singles in a season, helping to elevate him over other leadoff hitters. Oddly enough, Ichiro also ranks ninth all-time in leadoff home runs, so he had a little power.

Likewise, Ichiro was a two-time batting champ and also led the American League in stolen bases the year he won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in 2001. Of course, Ichiro also made the All-Star Team in each of his first 10 big league seasons, helping to make him one of the best leadoff hitters of all time.

2. Tim Raines

With his incredible speed, there is no debate about Tim Raines being one of the best leadoff hitters of all time. He wasn’t just fast, he was also an intelligent base runner. He led the National League on three occasions in times on base and twice in runs scored.

In 1986, Raines won the National League batting title and led the league in on-base percentage, which is what you want from a leadoff hitter. Raines also led the National League in stolen bases four times, which is another good trait for a leadoff hitter. On top of that, Raines was an all-star in seven straight seasons during the first half of his career when he was an elite leadoff hitter.

1. Rickey Henderson

It’s almost laughable how far ahead Rickey Henderson is of everyone else for the title of the best leadoff hitter in baseball history. His combination of speed and power was unique and has rarely been matched in MLB history.

In addition to being the single-season stolen base king, Henderson also holds the all-time records for stolen bases and unintentional walks drawn. More importantly, he’s well ahead of the pack in terms of leadoff home runs with 81 with Alfonso Soriano a distant second with 54.

Henderson finished this illustrious career with 3,055 hits and an on-base percentage of .401, which is exactly what you want from a leadoff hitter. Of course, with a career that spanned from 1979 to 2003 and included 10 all-star selections, three Silver Slugger Awards, and MVP honors in 1990, nobody is touching Henderson when it comes to being the ideal leadoff hitter.

The post 10 best leadoff hitters in baseball history appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- XL Media

The playoffs have now been narrowed down to four teams vying for the 2022 NBA Championship title. Here’s all the information you need ahead of each of the conference final matchups, including game recaps, news and betting previews.

In the East, the top-seeded Miami Heat take on the Boston Celtics, while the Golden State Warriors will face the Dallas Mavericks on the other side of the bracket.

With all four conference finalists from last year already eliminated, it’s a wide open field where anything could happen. Get all the latest conference final odds with Bet365.

Eastern Conference: Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

Miami and Boston clash in the Eastern Conference finals, in an eagerly anticipated contest between two stellar sides. Both teams head into this series full of confidence, and it is tough to predict what will happen. Miami claimed the opening bragging rights in game 1, but there is a long way to go in this tight matchup.

The number 1 and 2 seeds met at this stage back in 2020, and many of the key characters remain the same. The No. 2-seeded Celtics are once again led by Jayson Tatum with a supporting cast of Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, while Miami Heat will counter with their top star Jimmy Butler, ably supported by Bam Adebayo.

Plenty has changed in the prevailing time, however. The Celtics have matured from young pretenders into genuine contenders. They are now coached by Ime Udoka who has improved their defence into one of the most impressive in the entire league. Two years ago Boston’s Grant Williams was a raw rookie but is now almost a guaranteed starter and a huge talent. Back the Celtics to triumph with great odds at Bet Dukes.

Miami too, have improved in that time. Jimmy Butler has evolved into one of the best players in the NBA and Tyler Herro has developed from young promise to an indispensable member of their roster.

The most anticipated battle in the series will be between future hall of famers Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum. They are guaranteed to provide plenty of entertainment in the series, with both among the top five scorers this postseason.

Jimmy Butler’s 41-point haul powered the Miami Heat to a 118-107 comeback win in the opening match and his stats during this playoff run are stunning. This was his fifth 40-point effort in the postseason and he is only behind Heat icon Dwyane Wade with seven.

While Butler has been the better of the two so far in the playoffs, he has also faced a much easier defensive challenge, whereas Tatum is coming off a series against an elite Bucks defence.

Tatum has matured since the last playoff series with this opponent, he’s stronger, more dynamic and a better team player who’s adept at finding open teammates. While there is no doubting Butler’s considerable talent, this might be the time for Jasyon Tatum to shine.

These two teams match up very well, with fantastic defences and prolific wing-led offences. The Celtics won two of the three regular-season matchups between the two with blowout victories. After a slow start to the season, they have been the best team in the NBA in the last 2-3 months. Boston, with their more diverse offence with greater options, might be slight favourites to progress. Despite their opening night loss, they should be able to get the four wins they need to see off the Heat and progress to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010. Make Bet Dual your NBA Playoffs betting destination.

Betting Prediction: Celtics to come back and win the series 4-2 at 4/.

Western Conference: Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks

The Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks are set to meet in the Western Conference finals, with both sides having to hard work to progress to this stage.

Despite an injury-ravaged season, where star players Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green combined for only 11 regular-season minutes, the Warriors still finished with the third-best record in the conference. They now have a far healthier roster and dispatched the Denver Nuggets in five games in the first round, and then saw off the young and physical Memphis Grizzlies in six close games.

The Mavericks pulled off a stunning upset against the reigning Western Conference champs, the Phoenix Suns, and are now looking to put one over the favourites again. Bet £10 and get a £10 free bet with BetStorm.

Golden State are the most experienced of the four sides left in the playoffs and are a roster that was made to perform at this big stage. They reached five straight NBA Finals between 2015 and 2019, and their star trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remain.

Whereas Dallas relies heavily on one player, the strength of the Warriors is that they have threats all over the court. They have multiple playmakers who take turns in creating shots for each other and for themselves, which makes them incredibly hard to defend against.

The Dubs will be banking on their adaptability, championship mettle and strength in depth to see them through to yet another championship series.

If Dallas are to make this series competitive, then they are once again going to have to lean heavily on their superstar Luka Dončić.

He is a man full of confidence, playing the basketball of his life in this unlikely playoff run. He is dominating the stats across the board with the most points per game, most rebounds, most assists and second in steals per game.

His postseason numbers are so impressive that the only player that can match his points per game average is the legend of the game, Michael Jordan.

Dallas have already played 13 out of a possible 14 games during their playoff run. The team may be young but that is a lot of postseason basketball in a short period of time. This looks to be another series that will go down to the wire, but the fact the Warriors have home-court advantage, and that the Mavs are overworked, it could well be Golden State who goes to the Championship series for the sixth time in eight years. Join SportNation now and enjoy a free £5 bet every week!

Betting Prediction: Golden State Warriors to win the series 4-3 at 7/2

Follow Franchise Sports as we look forward to the exciting conclusion to this NBA season with all the latest news and betting odds.

 

The post NBA Conference Finals Betting Preview appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- XL Media

Following the frenetic Conference semi-finals, we’re down to the final four in the NBA Playoffs. Here, we preview the chances of the Warriors, Celtics, Heat and Mavericks, and predict who’s going to be crowned champion…

The Contenders Golden State Warriors +125

Golden State Warriors earned their ticket to the Western Conference Finals as they finally put away the Memphis Grizzlies with a convincing 110-96 win in Game 6 of their Second Round playoff series.

It’s their first trip this deep into the playoffs since 2019 when they made the NBA Finals – before eventually losing to the Toronto Raptors.

After reaching five straight NBA Finals between 2015 and 2019, they’ve returned to the big stage in style. Following the elimination of the Suns, the Warriors are now the betting favorites to take home the trophy.

The Dubs success rests mostly on their triple threat of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Curry has averaged 27 points per game in a convincing playoff run for the Warriors to date. Despite everything he’s won in his glittering career, NBA Finals MVP is the one accolade that’s eluded him. If he leads the Warriors to success, this may well be the year he claims the title.

Klay Thompson led the way with another spectacular shooting performance in their Game 6 conference semi-final win with 30 points. He’s back in the playoff limelight after a 2+ year absence with a pair of serious injuries, and this is the stage where he shines brightest.

Draymond Green has been his all-around consistent self throughout this playoff run. The ten-year veteran is one of the smartest players in basketball, and there are few players in the modern era that can match his playoff career. He’s one of 13 players in NBA history to tally 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds and 750 assists in the postseason.

Golden State seem to be getting healthy at just the right time. Veteran forward Andre Iguodala will be able to return soon after missing the past seven playoff games, and forward Otto Porter Jr. is back after being absent from the past two games. Head coach Steve Kerr was forced to miss games 4, 5 and 6 against Memphis but has been cleared to return to manage from the courtside.

It’s great to see Golden State back in the center of the title picture, and they definitely have the vast experience needed to triumph. Back the Warriors to glory with FanDuel.

Boston Celtics +200

The Boston Celtics showcased their title credentials by dumping out the defending champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, in a game 7 decider.

This was a tightly contested series that was stretched to its limit, but the Celtics blew their opponents away when it mattered most with a huge 109-81 victory.

They threw away a 14-point lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game 5 matchup against the Bucks to leave them 3-2 behind in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

In recent times this might have been the end of the line for this inexperienced line-up, but they are coming of age before our eyes as they stormed back to take the series.

This will be their fourth conference finals appearance in the past 6 years, but they have lost at this stage in each of the other 3 seasons.

At 24 years old, Jayson Tatum has already experienced a lifetime of NBA playoff games with the Boston Celtics, but none quite as legendary as his Friday night show with his season on the line.

On the edge of elimination on the road, Tatum scored 46 points with nine rebounds in a career-defining performance. Without him their season would be over, and he’s primed to star against the Heat in his matchup against Butler.

This could be the time for Boston to claim their first title since 2008 and to draw them clear of the Lakers with a record 18 NBA wins. Enjoy a risk free first bet up to $1000 with BetMGM.

Miami Heat +400

Miami were the first side to book their place in the conference finals with a 4-2 win over Philadelphia, and in doing so, reached this stage for the second time in three seasons.

The Number 1 seeds in the East have home-court advantage in their conference final match-up against the Celtics, and the fact that they have been able to rest up since Thursday may give them a slight advantage.

Jimmy Butler has led the Heat with a series of incredible individual performances to see off both the 76ers and the Hawks in the opening round.

Outside of Luka Dončić, Butler may be having the best playoffs of any individual. He’s fourth in scoring, leads the league in steals, and is in the top 20 in rebounds and assists.

With veteran point guard Kyle Lowry potentially missing a chunk of this series with a hamstring injury, there will be more pressure put onto Butler’s shoulders.

The Heat will likely have to be near perfect if they’re going to beat the Celtics and then win the Championship series, but they have mistakenly been written off many times this season, and they’re still standing.

Dallas Mavericks +600

The Dallas Mavericks stunned the top-seeded Phoenix Suns with a 123-90 Game 7 blowout to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2011.

The team seems to be improving with just about every game and with the best remaining player in the playoffs – Luka Dončić – in peak form, they’re full of confidence.

If the Mavs are going to upset the odds once again, then they are going to have to lean on their superstar Dončić, who has been dominating in the playoffs. The Slovenian lit up the decider against the Suns with 35 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in just 30 minutes of action.

Incredibly, he’s leading the playoffs in scoring with 31.5 points as well as rebounding with 10.1 boards. He’s also tied with Warriors Draymond Green for the most assists, and to cap it all off, he is second only to Jimmy Butler in steals per game.

Golden State hasn’t looked like that world-beating, fearful team we saw back in 2015 and 2016, and Dallas has the fire power needed to make this a closer series than the odds suggest. BetRivers is your betting destination for the NBA Playoffs.

Continue to follow Franchise Sports throughout the Conference Finals and onto the Championship series for the latest news and betting previews.

The post NBA Championships Winner Betting Guide appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Ernesto Cova

One has to consider multiple aspects when discussing the worst MLB contracts 2022. I mean, it’s one thing to struggle on a team-friendly deal, and another to do it while making $30+ million a season. The standard is just different.

Worst MLB contracts 2022

Long before the NBA and NFL started signing players to massive, record-breaking deals, Major League Baseball ballclubs were already signing blank checks. Needless to say, that’s a gamble that’s more likely to be a mistake than a big success down the line.

Sometimes, teams sign their players to big contracts as a thank you for their past contributions. Then, they’re no longer able to produce at the same level. Others get a big deal out of their projections, but injuries, bad luck, or a poor work ethic prevents them from reaching their potential.

At the end of the day, the players shouldn’t be to blame for all the money they make, it’s the teams that agree to meet their financial pretensions or not. Also, most of the time those deals seem logical and refusing to pay up could be considered an even bigger mistake.

Whatever is the case, multiple players have completely fleeced their teams out of massive paydays. Here, we’re going to talk about some of them, letting you know about the top 10 worst contracts for the 2022 Major League Baseball season.

10. Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera‘s contract would’ve been ranked higher but he’s had a pretty decent season in 2022, turning back the clock and looking healthier than ever. Then again, and even though he’s one of the greatest players in MLB history, he’ll need to do way more to pay up that 8-year, $248 million monster deal he signed.

Miggy still has $72 million left in his contract. The latest addition to the 3,000-hit club is reportedly planning to retire after the 2023 campaign. That pretty much means that the Detroit Tigers will buy him out of his club option for the 2024 season.

9. Stephen Strasburg

Despite being under one of the worst MLB contracts right now, Stephen Strasburg earned his payday. He’s a World Series MVP and one of the most underrated hurlers in all of baseball. However, that’s worth nothing when you’re not able to play.

Strasburg has pitched 26.2 innings since signing that massive contract after the 2019 World Series. He signed a mammoth seven-year, $245 million contract and is still owed a whopping $175 million from a team that’s years away from contention.

8. Eric Hosmer

Eric Hosmer is one of the most overpaid MLB players right now. He was an All-Star in Kansas City and the San Diego Padres needed to pay up to acquire his services. Then again, he’s been average at best since taking his talents to Petco Park.

Hosmer signed an eight-year pact worth $144 million and he’s still due to make $59 million. The Padres have been trying to trade him for quite some time now but the chances of someone absorbing such a massive salary are quite slim at this point.

7. Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t been able to replicate the success he had with the Miami Marlins since joining the New York Yankees. It’s not that he’s a scrub or anything but he just can’t stay healthy. Moreover, we’re talking about a guy who was signed to a 13-year deal.

Stanton is quite productive when healthy, but that’s rarely the case. He’s still owed a whopping $189 million and has done little to pay his contract’s worth thus far. Hopefully, he’ll finally be able to stay on the field and silence his critics once and for all.

6. Madison Bumgarner

There’s no doubt that Madison Bumgarner is one of the best pitchers of his generation. A dominant hurler who put the San Francisco Giants on his back over and over amid countless postseason runs. But, why would the Arizona Diamondbacks of all teams want to pay him that much money?

Bumgarner is turning back the clock this season after a dreadful start to his career in Arizona. He’s still owed $60 million after committing to a five-year, $85 million pact on a team that has zero chance of making the playoffs. They’d be glad to try and trade him, but no one’s going to pay that much for an aging pitcher.

5. Patrick Corbin

The Washington Nationals were quite thankful to Patrick Corbin after he helped them win the World Series in 2019. But just like Strasburg, he hasn’t been able to stay at that level ever since, struggling with his control and giving up big hit after big hit.

Corbin was baseball’s leader in home runs allowed, earned runs, and losses last season. That’s not what you want from a guy you signed to a six-year, $140 million contract. The worst part is that there are no takers for his services and that he’s still owed $92 million.

4. Jason Heyward

Not so long ago, the Chicago Cubs were legit World Series contenders. Part of that was thanks to Jason Heyward, who helped the team win the title for the first time in over a century back in 2016. Fast-forward to today, and Heyward has done little to help the franchise ever since.

Heyward signed an eight-year, $184 million contract and still has $64 million left to be paid. Despite being an elite defender, his offense continues to plummet as the years go by. Also, his contract includes up to $20 million in deferrals that can be paid out through 2027.

3. Chris Sale

All things considered, Chris Sale could be among the worst contracts in MLB history. Before all the injuries, he signed a five-year, $145 million contract and even he admitted that he’s only given the Boston Red Sox one full season ever since.

Sale has barely been able to be on the mound and hasn’t even played this season, yet he’s still making $30 million. When healthy, the southpaw has been one of the most dominant aces in the league by a long stretch. Hopefully, he’ll be able to shake off his multiple ailments and finally live up to that contract.

2. Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano‘s career was set to end in Cooperstown but multiple PED scandals pretty much killed his chances. He’s now under one of the worst MLB contracts still being paid after the New York Mets parted ways with him. He’s still owed $48 million.

Cano signed a ten-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners and was one of the most productive second basemen of all time. But after a year away from the game and a sluggish start to the season, it’s clear that his best years are far behind him.

1. David Price

David Price has a strong chance to be the worst addition in Los Angeles Dodgers history. He sat out the COVID-19 shortened season, then came back next year but wasn’t ready to start. He was mediocre at best as a long-reliever/starter and wasn’t even featured in the playoffs.

Now, despite being fully healthy, Price hasn’t been on the mound for Dave Roberts‘ team. They’re reportedly trying to trade him, but there’s no market for a 36-year-old still due $32 million for the season. He signed a seven-year, $217 million deal but has been a shell of himself for three years now.

The post 10 most overpaid baseball players in 2022 appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Ernesto Cova

Our NBA Conference Finals predictions 2022 have arrived.

Just four teams are still in contention for the Larry O’Brien Trophy and anything can happen at this point. Needless to say, this is where great players become legends of the game.

NBA Conference Finals predictions 2022

In all reality, we couldn’t have hoped for more exciting matchups in the Conference Finals. Warriors vs Mavericks, Celtics vs Heat, offense vs defense. Both series could go either way, and the fact that neither of last year’s finalists remain in contention speaks volumes of how difficult it is to thrive in the NBA.

Making NBA Playoff previews is a complicated task. There are many intangibles and things that could come into play. Staying healthy and getting hot at the right time is key to going the distance at this stage. With that in mind, we present you with our NBA Conference Finals predictions 2022:

Celtics vs Heat series prediction

Our Eastern Conference Finals prediction is rather simple: This will be a bloodbath and will be decided by less than two scores, and in seven games. I mean, it can’t be another way, as these are two of the toughest defensive-oriented teams in the Association.

Both teams feature star power and sharpshooters but take pride in their bruising defense. We expect them to go back and forth with multiple lead changes and even a couple of overtime games. However, the Heat will prevail thanks to Erik Spoelstra’s playoff experience.

Mavericks vs Warriors series prediction

Our Western Conference Finals prediction is pretty similar to what oddsmakers think. We expect the Golden State Warriors to take care of business in six games, but it won’t be as easy as most fans think, as the Dallas Mavericks have proven that they’re no pushovers.

Both teams will blow out the other at least once in the series, but we also expect a huge comeback like only Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry can orchestrate. The Mavs will take at least one on the road from the Warriors, but there’s no stopping the Dynasty at this point.

Bold predictions for East & West Finals

But now that we’ve got our series previews out of the way, let’s go deeper and get riskier with our takes and predictions. Here, we share our five boldest predictions from the Celtics vs Heat and Mavericks vs Warriors Conference Finals series.

Luka Doncic will have a 50-point game

Luka Doncic is tied with Michael Jordan for the highest scoring average in the playoffs. That’s not a coincidence, as he takes his game and usage up a notch in the postseason. Moreover, teams often focus on his supporting cast, as they know there’s no actual way to stop him from scoring.

With that in mind, we expect the Warriors to give him the LeBron James treatment. Look for them to try and disrupt passing lanes and prevent him from getting the ball to his teammates. The outcome? A 50-point explosion from the European wunderkind.

Jimmy Butler will average nearly a triple-double

Kyle Lowry continues to nurse a hamstring injury and even if he plays, he’ll be quite limited. Jimmy Butler is the leader of the team and you know he’ll have the ball in his hands on nearly every possession. Also, he’s not likely to take many breaks in any game.

Butler is a willing and underrated passer. While he’s an aggressive scorer, he doesn’t hesitate to trust his teammates and share the wealth. So, with Lowry out, we expect him to run the offense and post LeBron James-esque stats throughout the series.

Klay Thompson will set another three-point record

Klay Thompson has heard all the noise. He’s heard people talk about how the Warriors should trade him and start Jordan Poole, how he’ll never be the same, how he’s rusty, etcetera. And, you better believe he’s keeping receipts of all those hot takes.

Thompson is still one of the greatest shooters in basketball history, don’t you dare forget that.

He already set an NBA playoff record with 11 three-pointers in 2016, going 11/18 from beyond the arc. We bank on him to one-up that performance and set another mark to silence his critics.

Draymond Green will get a technical five minutes into a game

Some claim that the Warriors would’ve won the 2016 NBA Finals if it wasn’t for Draymond Green‘s suspension, and I won’t be the one to disagree. Then again, one of the things that makes Draymond so great is that fiery passion that often leads him to get a technical foul.

Green will never change. As hard as he tries, as much as he wants to keep it together, he’ll talk his talk every time on the court. So, we expect him to get T’d up early in one of the crucial games, all but forcing Steve Kerr to sit him for a couple of minutes.

Marcus Smart will either get hurt or hurt someone else

Marcus Smart didn’t win Defensive Player of the Year just by chance. He earned that award by enduring a beating night in and night out, putting his body on the line, running through screens, and taking risks on passing lanes. That hustle and grind make him who he is.

But Smart can also be erratic when he dives for the ball or tries to do a little too much. That’s why he’s suffered multiple injuries throughout his career, and while he’ll get hurt again this season or, even worse, hurt a rival or a teammate. We hope to be wrong about this one, though.

The post Previews & five bold predictions for 2022 Conference Finals appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Hadi El Talje

Devin Booker vs Jayson Tatum is a comparison of two young superstars carving their way towards an NBA championship. Even though Tatum carried the Celtics towards the Eastern Conference Finals, and D Book faded under Luka Doncic’s spotlight, both players are evenly matched when it comes to their basketball abilities.

Devin Booker vs Jayson Tatum comparison

So with everything considered, we thought we’d take a little step-back (pun intended) from all the playoff action and do a little Tatum vs Booker comparison to see which young gun has a brighter future.

Get ready for the battle of the NBA’s most promising talents, Devin Booker vs Jayson Tatum.

Let’s talk numbers

The best way to look at player comparisons is obviously the numbers. In the Devin Booker vs Jayson Tatum comparison, it’s more like splitting hairs. Even though they play in different positions, Tatum and Booker’s games are very similar.

Both are explosive offensive threats that can get their shot off at any time. Booker relies a lot on his speed and can create space against the best defenders. Tatum in comparison is a bit slower but is a crafty scorer with footwork just as good as Booker’s.

According to basketball-reference, this year, both players are averaging around 27 points, and dishing out around five assists.

Tatum edges out Booker in rebounds but that’s due to his height advantage. He’s also shooting 45% from the field and 35% from deep, while Booker is posting similar numbers. Through 68 games played this season, Booker is shooting 46% from the field and draining 38% of his 3s.

The Booker vs Tatum comparison on defense however is in Tatum’s advantage. According to Statmuse, Jayson Tatum is allowing 106.3 points defensively this year, while Booker is allowing 108.8.

Even though Tatum is the better defender with his 6’11 wingspan and bulkier physique, Booker has silenced his doubters on the defensive end by consistently improving over the last few years. Just like the Celtics, the Suns are among the NBA’s best defences, and the effort Booker is now showing on the defensive can only propel him into higher superstar status.

However, considering the Suns losing in the Western Conference Semis, and Tatum bulldozing his way through Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tatum has to stand out and win in this category.

Impact

Now that we got the numbers out of the way, let’s look at how both players impact the game. This is where the Devin Booker vs Jayson Tatum comparison gets interesting.

Devin Booker is only 25 years old, and he’s been in the NBA for seven seasons. Even though the Suns were mostly irrelevant before the Chris Paul era, Booker was still a straight up baller. He posted big numbers night in and night out and managed to improve his game every year. Nevertheless, the Suns were still one of the worst teams in the NBA, so Booker did not have much of an impact on winning.

Perhaps the best example of this came against the Celtics of all teams in March 2017. Booker dropped a 70 piece, and the Suns still lost the game. While scoring is obviously the best way to win games, there are a lot of other areas where players can impact the game, and Booker is simply a pure scorer.

After adding Chris Paul, the Suns obviously became one of the best teams in the league, but there is no doubt that it’s Paul who impacts the game the most on that Suns roster.

The story is different in Boston. Jayson Tatum was drafted by Boston in 2018 and he’s never missed the playoffs in all five seasons of his career. Granted, the Celtics were a much better equipped team than the Suns. But in his rookie season, Tatum was the centerpiece on a roster that went toe and toe with LeBron James, eventually losing in seven in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In his 5th season with the Celtics, Tatum is clearly the best player on the roster, and that puts more pressure on him to impact the game compared to Booker. He’s developed as a playmaker, and improved his shot making taking the Celtics to their 4th Eastern Conference Finals in six years.

When all is said and done, it’s Tatum who has the bigger impact between the two.

Swag

When it comes to swag, Devin’s Booker classic car collection alone gives him the win in this category. However, on-court, the Devin Booker vs Jayson Tatum swag comparison is a very close one.

For starters both players have Kobe like approaches to the game, but considering his height, Tatum is the more explosive of the two.

In his five-year career, Tatum has posted five 50-point games, tying him with Larry Bird. Booker on the other hand has posted three in his seven seasons with the Suns.

The truth is, both players can torch defences with their slick footwork, buttery strokes, and in-your-face step-backs. There is no doubt that Kobe would be proud!

Verdict

While both players are superstars, Jayson Tatum is more valuable to the Celtics right now. He’s also proven that he can be the number one option on a contending team. This does not take away from Booker’s value to the Suns, it just shows how Tatum has grown during his time in Boston.

Watch out for the Cs and Tatum in these playoffs. Banner 18 could be lifted up to the rafters sooner than you think.

The post Devin Booker vs Jayson Tatum: Who’s the better player right now? appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine

Even though the class of 2022 has yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s never too early to start looking at upcoming MLB Hall of Fame candidates.

Naturally, Alex Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame case will be one of the headliners in 2023 in his second year on the ballot. But the next MLB Hall of Fame ballot is going to include plenty of other strong candidates who voters will have to carefully consider.

Upcoming MLB Hall of Fame Candidates in 2023

But who will be the future baseball Hall of Famers that get inducted into Cooperstown in 2023? Well, there are 14 players from the previous ballot that earned at least 5% of the vote, allowing them to stay on the ballot for 2023.

There are also roughly 50 other players who haven’t played since the 2017 season, meaning they are among the upcoming MLB Hall of Fame candidates for the first time. While we can’t cover everyone, let’s take a closer look at some of the more noteworthy players on the next MLB Hall of Fame ballot and analyze each player’s chances of being part of the Hall of Fame class of 2023.

Scott Rolen

Scott Rolen is a player who is undoubtedly trending toward the Hall of Fame. This will be his sixth year on the ballot, so time is starting to run out. But he earned 63.2% of the vote last year, an increase of over 10%.

Defensively, Rolen is one of the best to ever man the hot corner, winning eight Gold Gloves. That should help his case and at least get him close to the 75% needed in 2023.

Todd Helton

Last year, Todd Helton passed the 50% threshold, earning 52% of the vote in his fourth year. But that was only a modest 7% bump from the previous year, so he still has a long way to go.

The fact that he played his whole career with the Rockies might hurt him. However, we’re talking about a former batting champ and a career .316 hitter who won three Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards.

Carlos Beltran

This will be Carlos Beltran’s first year on the ballot, and he figures to have the best chance of anyone in this class to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Beltran’s resume is too good not to get to Cooperstown at some point. He played 20 seasons and was a nine-time all-star, winning three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards.

Beltran was also a 30-30 player and had some memorable moments in the postseason. For his career, he collected over 2,700 hits and 435 home runs. However, he was also connected to the cheating scandal involving the Astros in his final season. Some voters could hold that against him.

Billy Wagner

When all is said and done, it’d be a shame if Billy Wagner wasn’t in Cooperstown. He was one of the best closers of his generation and a seven-time all-star.

He’s also one of six pitchers to record at least 400 saves, putting him in rarified air. But the former closer has only three years left on the ballot and only reached 51% last year. It doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be a member of the class of 2023, although there could be hope for Wagner if he gets a big bump next year.

Andruw Jones

The fact that Andruw Jones only earned 41.4% of the vote in his fifth year of eligibility last year is a slap in the face to defense in general. Defensively, Jones was a generational talent, winning 10 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1998 to 2007.

Nobody was on his level when it came to patrolling center field. The five-time all-star was also a competent hitter, smashing 434 home runs during his career. He’s a long shot to make it in 2023 but should receive a considerable boost, as he surely has a strong case for making it to Cooperstown.

Francisco Rodriguez

As one of the greatest closers of his generation, it’ll be interesting to see how K-Rod fares in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility. He still owns the single-season saves record with 62 and is one of six pitchers with at least 400 career saves.

Those two facts alone, not to mention his six all-star selections, should get him a long way toward reaching 75%. However, voters haven’t been eager to put relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame, so it may be hard for him to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield has just two years left on the ballot, so time is running out. He received just 40.6% last year, gaining no ground from the previous year. That might be the best he does, as Sheffield’s name being mentioned in the Mitchell Report and his link to steroids will surely keep him out of Cooperstown.

On the surface, he’s a no-brainer for the Hall with 509 home runs and over 2,600 career hits. Sheffield was also a nine-time all-star, a five-time Silver Slugger, and a former batting champ. But his connection to PEDs will ensure he never gets to the Hall of Fame.

Alex Rodriguez

From the day he retired, we knew that Alex Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame case was going to be one of the most intriguing of the steroid era.

Last year was his first year on the ballot and Alex Rodriguez received just 34.3% of the vote. That doesn’t seem to bode well for his chances.

However, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both got to 65% or more by their final year. Perhaps A-Rod will follow a similar pattern and gain support over the years. After all, he is a 14-time all-star and three-time MVP who had over 3,100 hits and 696 career home runs.

Matt Cain

Matt Cain is unlikely to get into the Hall of Fame by virtue of his losing record.

However, it’ll be interesting to see how much support he receives and how long he can stay on the ballot. He was a three-time all-star who also pitched a perfect game. Cain also helped the Giants win two championships and finished his career with a 3.68 ERA. That should be worth a few years on the ballot.

Jeff Kent

It’s the last-chance saloon for Jeff Kent, who received 32.7% of the vote in his ninth year on the ballot in 2022. That doesn’t bode well for his chances, as he’d need more than a 40% boost in his last year of eligibility.

Nobody is saying that Kent is a bonafide Hall of Famer. But it’s puzzling that he hasn’t received more support. He had over 2,400 career hits and a .290 average in addition to being the all-time home run leader among second basemen. Kent is also a former MVP and a five-time all-star and surely deserves more than 32% of the vote.

Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez is another player who will be left out of Cooperstown because of his connection to PEDs. His resume makes him a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame.

Ramirez was a 12-time all-star and a former MVP with over 2,500 hits and 555 home runs. He was also a .312 career hitter. But in his sixth year on the ballot last year, Ramirez earned just 28.9% of the vote, which means he’s not going to get close in the years to come.

Omar Vizquel

If only voters cared about defense, Omar Vizquel would at least be a borderline Hall of Famer. He lost more than half of his votes from 2021 to 2022. In fact, he got 52.6% of the vote in 2020 and appeared to be trending in the right direction.

However, Vizquel was down to 23.9% last year.

For an 11-time Gold Glove winner, a three-time all-star, and one of the great defensive shortstops of all time, getting that few votes is beyond disrespectful. 

John Lackey

John Lackey will be one of the more interesting first-time candidates in 2023.

At the end of the day, he’s probably not going to be a Hall of Famer. But with a career ERA of 3.92 and 188 career wins, Lackey should stay on the ballot for a few years after a 15-season career.

Andy Pettitte

Winning five World Series rings with the Yankees got Andy Pettitte to Monuments Park, although it might not get him to Cooperstown.

The lefty had a fine career, winning 256 games and posting a 3.85 ERA. But he was also named in the Mitchell Report, which will keep him from getting anywhere close to the Hall of Fame. Pettitte had just 10.7% of the vote last year, which was a decrease from the previous year.

Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter is yet another player whose defensive prowess has been largely ignored by Hall of Fame voters. He earned 9.5% of the vote in his first year but was down to 5.3% last year. If things continue to trend downward, Hunter could be off the ballot after his third year of eligibility.

For a player who won nine straight Gold Gloves as a center fielder, Hunter is not getting the credit he deserves. Keep in mind he was also a five-time all-star, two-time Silver Slugger winner, and finished his carer with over 2,400 hits. He deserves a lot more votes than he’s been getting.

The post Analyzing each player on the 2023 Cooperstown ballot appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine
10 greatest utility players in MLB history

There might be no group of players more overlooked in baseball history than the best MLB utility players of all time.

These are some of the most versatile MLB players to ever play the game. Even if they weren’t bonafide superstars, the greatest utility players in baseball history deserve credit because they were good at so many different things and contributed to their teams in so many ways. Plus, a lot of the most versatile baseball players in MLB history often found themselves on winning teams, which was no coincidence.

Best MLB utility players of all time

Of course, since they weren’t star players, it’s not always easy to remember the best MLB utility players of all time. But don’t worry about that because we’ve done the historical leg work for you.

Whether you agree with or list or not is another question. However, we have compiled a ranking of the top-10 greatest utility players in baseball history.

10. Rance Mulliniks

Rance Mulliniks may not be a household name nowadays but during his career, he was one of the top utility infielders in the game. He came up as a shortstop but learned to play third base and started moving all over the infield.

He was a true rover and ended up playing 16 seasons in the big leagues, mostly with the Blue Jays. For his career, Mulliniks hit .272 with 435 RBIs despite not hitting for much power. Instead, he made his living by being versatile.

9. Mariano Duncan

Mariano Duncan is mostly remembered as a shortstop and a second baseman and was even an all-star in 1994. But during his career, he found his way all over the diamond, starting at least one game at every position except pitcher and catcher.

While he was never known as a power hitter or a great offensive talent, Duncan was a slick fielder no matter where you put him. It’s why he played 13 seasons in the majors and helped his team win a World Series twice.

8. Chone Figgins

He didn’t have much power but Chone Figgins could hit for a high average and field his position, regardless of what position he played. He played primarily at third base, although he spent a lot of time at second base and in center field.

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Figgins ended up playing everywhere but first base, pitcher, and catcher. Outside of his defensive versatility, Figgins brought a lot to the table. He was a career .276 hitter and stole 341 bases over his 12 seasons in the majors. He was also an all-star in 2009 and the MLB stolen base leader in 2005, helping to earn him recognition as one of the best MLB utility players in baseball history.

7. Tony Phillips

Tony Phillips played 18 seasons during the 1980s and 90s and was one of the best MLB utility players of all time despite playing in an era before utility players got much attention or respect. He came up as a second baseman, which was his primary position.

But Phillips had no problem playing shortstop or third base and made over 100 appearances in the outfield. Even though he was never an all-star, Phillips was a career .266 hitter and always contributed enough to stick around the league, playing 18 seasons for seven different teams.

6. Matt Carpenter

During his 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Matt Carpenter was constantly shifting around between first base, second base, and third base, although the hot corner was his primary position. During his prime years, Carpenter was a versatile utility player who hit like an everyday third baseman. From 2012 to 2018, he was an exceptional offensive player, winning the Silver Slugger Award in 2013 and being named an all-star three times.

Even when his offensive production dropped, Carpenter was still valuable because of his versatility, even playing the outfield and appearing as a pitcher in 2021.

5. Martin Prado

Most consider Martin Prado a third baseman, but he was actually a true utility player. By the end of his career, he had played every position except for pitcher, catcher, and center field. By the late stages of his career, Prado could move seamlessly between third base, second base, and left field, which is what helped him extend his career for 14 years.

The Venezuela native was also a great hitter, making the All-Star Team in 2010 and finishing his career with 100 home runs and a .287 batting average.

4. Chris Taylor

The term super-utility player was definitely created for players like Chris Taylor. Even before his career is even over, he’s one of the best MLB utility players of all time. From the start of his career, Taylor has done a great job of embracing the role of a utility player.

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He’s also good enough defensively to play all three outfield positions, including center field, third base, shortstop, and second base. In fact, he’s spent most of his career at either shortstop or in center field, which is why he’s so valuable. Offensively, Taylor has always been a steady hitter and not afraid of the big stage, earning NLCS MVP honors in 2017.

3. Jose Oquendo

While Jose Oquendo spent a little time as the middle-infield partner to the great Ozzie Smith, he’s best known for his incredible versatility as one of the greatest utility players in baseball history. It helped Oquendo that he was a brilliant defensive second baseman and a strong defensive shortstop. He actually has the second-best career fielding percentage among second basemen.

But no matter where you put him, Oquendo was great with the glove. He even spent a little time behind the plate and appeared as a pitcher, making him one of the rare players in big league history to play all nine positions. Granted, Oquendo was mostly known for his glove and versatility, he batted .256 for his career, doing just enough offensively to prove himself useful.

2. Placido Polanco

Placido Polanco definitely deserves to be considered among the best MLB utility players of all time. Of course, if we’re being fair, he was also one of the most underrated second basemen of his generation. He was a two-time all-star and took home ALCS MVP honors in 2006, as well as a Silver Slugger Award in 2007.

For his career, Polanco batted .297 and racked up over 2,100 hits. But in addition to being a great second baseman, Polanco was also an accomplished third baseman who could also handle himself at shortstop.

In fact, he is one of two players to win a Gold Glove at multiple positions, winning twice at second base and once at third base. On top of that, Polanco retired with the best all-time fielding percentage at both second base and third base. Wherever he played, he could handle himself in addition to being able to handle the bat as well.

1. Ben Zobrist

While his career only ended in 2019, Ben Zobrist will likely be remembered as one of the most versatile players in baseball history. Even though he was primarily a second baseman, all of his managers had no problem moving him around the diamond.

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He saw plenty of time in the outfield and could even handle himself at shortstop, earning him the title of super-utility player. Zobrist was also a switch-hitter and one of the most patient hitters of his era.

Unlike most utility players, Zobrist made enough of an impact to be a three-time all-star. It’s also no coincidence that he won the World Series in back-to-back years with two different teams late in his career. He was a versatile player and always played winning baseball.

The post 10 greatest utility players in MLB history appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Jeremy Mallari

The greatest NBA players to never win a ring had superb resumes—from winning multiple MVPs, All-NBAs, and All-Star selections. However, they are missing the most important accomplishment, and that’s winning an NBA championship.

No matter how hard these players tried, some of them were just unlucky for a lot of reasons. Basketball is a team sport and one can only contribute so much to get the team in the position to win a title.

Greatest NBA players to never win a ring

Rings are often the measurement to quantify one’s greatness. However, this argument just looks at one side of the coin. It puts a lot of pressure on a lot of great individual players who won various accolades but never won a ring.

Sure, rings are a huge boost but they shouldn’t be the sole basis in measuring one’s greatness. If we go by this logic, then three-time NBA champion Patrick McCaw is better than John Stockton.

It’s time to appreciate players who put blood, sweat, and tears to be the best version of themselves to help their teams. Here are the ten greatest NBA players to never win a ring…

10. Tracy McGrady

Tracy McGrady is one of the biggest ‘what if’ players in NBA history. He dominated the league in scoring at 23 years old and averaged 32 points per game. However, he never got the chance to reach his prime due to his injuries.

Later on in his career, he joined the Spurs in 2013 to finally get a ring as a veteran. McGrady didn’t suit up to play until the postseason. During the same season, San Antonio reached the NBA Finals but Miami defeated them 4-3. It was his first and last chance of getting a ring.

Throughout his career, McGrady was a seven-time All-NBA and seven-time All-Star.

9. Dominique Wilkins

When it comes to dunks and highlights, Dominique Wilkins is the first name that comes to mind. He was literally producing highlights every game due to his athleticism and explosiveness.

Wilkins was a prolific scorer on the inside due to his size and athletic ability. This is why he was crowned as the scoring champion in the 1985-86 season when he averaged 30 points per game.

Despite this, Wilkins never got the chance to win a single ring in his 16-year career or even the NBA Finals. Still, Wilkins had a lot of accolades under his belt — he was nine-time All-NBA and a nine-time All-Star.

8. Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller will always be remembered for his clutch gene and sharpshooting skills. Moreover, his trash-talking and competitiveness made the game more entertaining for fans. He even went head to head with Michael Jordan himself.

Despite playing for 18 seasons with the Pacers, Reggie Miller only got to the Finals once. His only Finals appearance was against the Lakers in 2000 when they lost 4-2. Miller averaged 24.3 points and 3.7 assists in the series.

Still, he had a solid career with Indiana and was three-time All-NBA and a five-time All-Star. He was also ranks fourth all-time in three pointers made (2,560).

7. Steve Nash

Steve Nash is one of the best playmakers ever, ranking fourth all-time in assists (10,335). Throughout his career, he led the league in assists five times and even won the MVP twice.

Despite these accolades, Nash never got the chance to reach the NBA Finals, and ultimately win the ring. He didn’t get past the Western Conference Finals with his former teams—Mavericks and Suns.

Still, Nash had a solid career worthy of the Hall of Fame status. He was a two-time MVP, seven-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, and five-time Assists Champ.

6. Elgin Baylor

One of the greatest NBA players to never win a ring, Elgin Baylor is a high-flying superstar who played like Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan happened. Baylor averaged 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game throughout his 14-year career with the Lakers.

Despite being on a team known to win championships, Elgin Baylor didn’t win a single ring with the Lakers. Los Angeles reached the Finals seven times but also lost seven times during his time there. Baylor was ranked second for the most Finals losses with seven, behind Jerry West‘s eight.

Still, Baylor had a legendary career. He was a 10-time All-NBA, and 11-time All-Star.

5. Patrick Ewing

The 90s was pretty much the golden era for centers in the NBA, and Patrick Ewing is one of them. He was a double-double machine, a prolific scorer, and an elite rim protector. Throughout his career, Ewing averaged 21 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game.

Ewing’s closest chance of getting a ring was during the 1994 and 1999 seasons with the Knicks. In 1994, the Knicks lost to the Rockets 4-3; and in 1999, the Knicks lost to the Spurs 4-1.

Ewing will be always remembered as one of the greatest players who didn’t win a championship. Throughout his career, he was a seven-time All-NBA, 11-time All-Star, and three-time All-Defensive.

4. Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson was one of the most exciting players in the league. Despite his small stature, he was able to be a dominant force, especially in the scoring department.

Iverson was crowned the league MVP in the 2000-01 season. He then led the Sixers to the Finals in the same year where they faced the heavily-favored Lakers. This was his closest chance of getting a ring. However, they lost 4-1. Iverson averaged 35.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game in the series.

Throughout his career, he was an MVP, seven-time All-NBA, four-time Scoring Champ, and three-time Steals Champ.

3. John Stockton

One of the greatest point guards ever, John Stockton was a playmaking maestro and a pesky defender. He’s still the NBA All-Time leader in assists (15,806) and steals (3,265) categories.

Despite making the playoffs for almost two decades with the Jazz, Stockton never had the chance to win a ring. His closest chance was during the 1997 and 1998 seasons where Utah faced Chicago twice in the Finals but lost twice also.

Stockton had a solid resume as he was 11-time All-NBA, 10-time All-Star, five-time All-Defensive, nine-time Assists Champ, and two-time Steals Champ. One could argue that he’d be in the conversation for the greatest point guard of all time if he won a ring.

2. Charles Barkley

Standing at 6’6″ while weighing 250 pounds, Charles Barkley is one of the strongest players ever. His explosiveness and strength were enough to overpower taller defenders down low. Throughout his 16-year career, he was an MVP, 11-time All-NBA, 11-time All-Star, and a Rebounding Champ.

Barkley won the MVP during the 1992-93 season and led the Suns to the Finals in the same year where they faced Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

Phoenix ultimately lost the series against Chicago. Barkley played great in that series where he averaged 27.3 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. It was his first and last Finals appearance.

He then joined the Rockets in 1996 to form a superteam with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Even with a stacked lineup, they lost to the Jazz in the Western Conference Finals.

1. Karl Malone

When people look for the best NBA players not to win a title, Karl Malone is the first name that usually pops up. Throughout his 19-year career, he was a two-time MVP, 14-time All-NBA, 14-time All-Star, and four-time All-Defensive.

The Mailman perfected the “old-man game” where he would bully defenders on the low-post, shoot it in the midrange, and pass to the open man. He and Stockton complemented each other, forming one of the best duos of all time.

Malone had his chances of winning the championship in the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He led the Jazz in both Finals where he averaged 23.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in 1997, and 25 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in 1998. We all know what happened in both of these Finals.

At the end of his career, he joined the Kobe-Shaq Lakers to try and finally get an NBA championship as a 40-year-old veteran. However, the Pistons won that year and spoiled Malone’s final chance of winning a ring.

The post 10 greatest NBA players to never win a ring appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Bryan Zarpentine

Since 2019, one of the great debates in baseball has been Aaron Judge vs Pete Alonso. These are two of the best power hitters in baseball and they just so happen to both play in New York, making the Judge vs Alonso comparison inevitable.

While it’s easy to say that both are among the top hitters in baseball, with the Mets and Yankees being involved in one of the biggest baseball rivalries, we thought we’d pick a side once and for all.

Aaron Judge vs Pete Alonso comparison

Obviously, New York fans are biased one way or another based on their rooting interest. But for neutrals, the Aaron Judge vs Pete Alonso debate is a tough one.

Both won Rookie of the Year and led their respective league in homers as a rookie. Both have also won the Home Run Derby and been named an All-MLB First Team performer. With so many similarities, let’s dive deeper into the Judge vs Alonso comparison and pick what player is just a little better than the other.

Power

The Aaron Judge vs Pete Alonso power comparison is almost destined to be a wash. Both guys hit home runs, and both guys hit home runs that get out of the park in a hurry and go far beyond the outfield wall. Obviously, Judge set the bar high with 52 home runs as a rookie, only for Alonso to hit 53 the following year, doing so without any big league experience the previous year.

Judge’s home run numbers declined a little bit after that because he missed time with injuries. Meanwhile, Alonso smashed 16 homers in the shortened 2020 season and 37 in 2021, which was just his second full season in the majors. However, Judge does have a slightly higher career slugging percentage, so he’s arguably been more productive when he’s been able to stay healthy.

Average

While Alonso has shown the potential to be a high-average hitter and surely does more than just hit home runs, Judge has been a little more consistent in this area. Outside of the shortened 2020 campaign and his first taste of the majors in 2016, Judge has hit at least .272 in every season with his career average being just a little higher.

Meanwhile, Alonso has fallen short of that number. He batted .260 as a rookie in 2019 and just .262 in 2021. His average in the shortened 2020 season was a mere .231. Granted, Alonso has shown some improvement in his approach and ability to hit for a better average, Judge still has the edge in this area.

Defense

Defense is another category where Judge is a little ahead of Alonso, although Alonso is showing potential in that area. While Judge doesn’t look like the fastest or fleet of foot outfielder because of his size, he’s able to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. The Yankees have even used him in center field at times because he can cover ground.

Of course, Judge also has one of the best arms of any right fielder in the majors right now, which is part of the reason why he won the Fielding Bible in 2021. Meanwhile, Alonso came to the big leagues with the reputation of someone being a liability defensively.

But nothing could be further from the truth. While he’s unlikely to ever win a Gold Glove, Alonso strives to do so. He’s worked hard to improve his defense at first base and now ranks as an above-average defensive player despite still being one of the most underrated first basemen in baseball when it comes to his defense.

Intangibles

Part of what makes the Judge vs Alonso comparison so difficult and both such great players is that both possess intangibles that have a positive impact on their team. As young players, both Judge and Alonso came into the New York market with massive expectations and appeared to handle the pressure without flinching.

They both found a way to embrace the pressure and use it to their advantage rather than running away from it, which isn’t a trait that’s found in most young players.

Likewise, both Judge and Alonso have grown into leadership roles with their respective teams, which is also not something that’s always common with young players. In fact, their ability to adapt to playing in New York and welcome a leadership role in the clubhouse are also reasons why both Judge and Alonso have excelled on the field.

Verdict

Frankly, there is no wrong choice when making a Judge vs Alonso comparison.

If you were starting a team and wanted to build around one of them, Alonso would likely be the choice because he’s three years younger. But in terms of career accomplishments and the player they are today, Judge is the better slugger and the better overall player.

Judge hits the same towering home runs that Alonso does but he does so with a better average while also bringing more to the table defensively. But the gap between Judge and Alonso is small and one that Alonso could make even smaller moving forward.

The Mets’ first baseman is getting better at hitting for a high average and improving defensively and is closer than most people think at matching Judge in those areas. For now, Judge is the winner, but the battle is far from over.

The post Aaron Judge vs Pete Alonso: Who’s the better all-round player? appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- XL Media

With the NFL Draft over and the big trades being concluded, the focus now shifts to the start of the season and a wide-open betting market for the Super Bowl Winner.

Here we preview the movers and shakers in the market ahead of the opening weekend of matches in September…

The Contenders Buffalo Bills +700

After consecutive hard knock narratives, could this be the year for Super Bowl favorites  Buffalo Bills? The talented Bills made another extended postseason run last year, but their Bowl hopes were dashed by rivals Kansas City in the Divisional Round after coming close to the win. Josh Allen once again proved his status as an elite quarterback, going blow for blow with Patrick Mahomes.

Gabriel Davis broke out as a rising star, and they’ve since signed star receiver Stefon Diggs to a massive extension. They’ve significantly improved their line-up with the signing of All-Pro Von Miller and two new starting guards, looking set for another deep run into the Playoffs. Get all your latest Super Bowl odds with FanDuel.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +800

Just a matter of weeks after announcing his retirement, Tom Brady changed his mind and returned to Tampa Bay for the 2022 season. In an instant, the Bucs went from +2500 outsiders to +800 second favorites for the Superbowl crown. In a surprising late-offseason move, Bruce Arians has moved from head coach to a job on the board and is retiring from coaching.

Popular defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has taken over charge of the team, and it’ll be interesting to see how he manages the big personalities on the roster. After all, Tampa were within minutes of making consecutive Super Bowls appearances after one of the greatest comebacks in the illustrious career of Brady against the Rams.

Considering they were grappling with injuries to key players, it was a very impressive season overall. They’ve since reloaded their side with the likes of Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette, and if they can also sign up tight end Rob Gronkowski, they’ll be locked and loaded for another strong season. Enjoy a risk free first bet up to $1000 with BetMGM.

Kansas City Chiefs +1,000

This is going to be a very interesting season for Kansas City, as The Chiefs are going to be looking a bit different in the passing department after the shock departure of Tyreek Hill. The other principal receiver, Travis Kelce, remains in place and will be as important as ever. Despite all this change in the offseason, they came into 2022 with high expectations.

They’re the only team to win 50 regular season games and make four AFC Championship Game appearances over the past four years, and this consistency is very attractive to potential backers. Mahomes has some new offensive weapons to play with in the form of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling at wide receiver and Ronald Jones at running back – so we can’t wait to see how they get on.

Green Bay Packers +1,100

The good news for Green Bay fans is that Aaron Rodgers is back for another year after the annual speculation about his future. The bad news, however, is that star receiver Davante Adams is not. The Packers will be hoping that talented rookie Christian Watson will be able to step into his shoes and be the target that Rogers needs.

Other star quarterbacks have much more potent weapons around them, so there’ll be big question marks surrounding the strength of their offense. Despite being regulars in the Playoffs and winning 13 games in three consecutive seasons, they’ve struggled to make the next step into true Superbowl contenders.

They’ve boosted their ranks with Georgia pair Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt, members of one of the most celebrated defenses in college football history. Bet Rivers is your betting base for the NFL.

The Outsiders LA Rams +1,200

The defending champs from LA will have to rely on mostly the same successful line-up from last year. They’ve opted to give up a ton of draft picks and are strapped for cash in the free agency market after assembling a star studded line-up. Without much roster turnover, we know what to expect from the Super Bowl champions in 2022, and they should be able to hit the ground running.

Matthew Stafford has been given a much deserved contract extension and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp is looking for another monster season. One of the big departures has been Von Miller but the incoming Bobby Wagner has been backed to fill this void. All in all, it’ll be fascinating to see if the lack of draft picks becomes an issue for LA or if they are setting the new model for other teams to follow.

LA Chargers +1,600

One team that seems to be a recent riser in the betting market is the Chargers. The Bolts have done nothing but improve on their weak points from last year and are expected to be Super Bowl challengers. In Justin Herbert they have an improving quarterback who is shaping up to be one of the best in the NFL.

In a pair of massive moves for the franchise, they have traded to acquire stud pass rusher Khalil Mack and All-Pro corner J.C. Jackson to take them to the next level. They’ve also added to their offensive line with guard Zion Johnson drafted in the first round. The AFC West looks to be the most competitive this year with Davante Adams and Chandler Jones joining the Raiders, the Denver Broncos picking up Russell Wilson, and the Chiefs being the Chiefs – but the Chargers are poised for greatness.

Make Franchise Sports your home for this highly anticipated NFL season with our latest news and betting guides.

The post Super Bowl Winner Betting Guide appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- XL Media

The 2022 NFL Draft has been characterised as being deep in talent but without the elite potential star power of previous years. Without any clear frontrunners, it’s extremely hard to predict the winner in either the Offensive and Defensive rookie awards. Follow our betting guide and try to pick out the winners from the leading contenders below…

Offensive Rookie of the Year Contenders

With most of the top picks coming on the defensive side of the ball, you might have to look a little further down the draft results to predict the winner of the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Kenny Pickett – 5/1

With three of the last six winners of the award being quarterbacks, it’s little wonder the bookmakers make Kenny Pickett as the most likely contender. The odds seem a little on the skinny side though as Pickett is far from guaranteed the starting role ahead of Mitchell Trubisky.

He only has to look at the 2021 draft class to know to take nothing for granted. It was loaded with quarterback talent including Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones but it was wide out Ja’Marr Chase who won the award. Back Kenny Picket to triumph with great odds at Bet Dukes.

Drake London – 7/1

Following the instant, electric production from Ja’Marr Chase for the Bengals last year, wide receivers are back in draft fashion. Six were drafted in the first round in 2022 with Atlanta-bound Drake London leading the betting. London will immediately be the Falcon’s best wideout and will be the focal point of the offense alongside last year’s first-round pick, tight end Kyle Pitts. The only trouble will be getting him the ball.

Atlanta’s options at quarterback are Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, and Feleipe Franks, who struggle to inspire confidence that Pitts will get the supply he needs to flourish. Make BetDuel your American Football betting destination.

Breece Hall – 8/1

The New York Jets picked running back Breece Hall from Iowa State with the 36th overall pick in the NFL Draft. He has the potential to be a great addition to the Jets’ rushing attack and is likely to see a lot of action alongside current RB Michael Carter. There’s a buzz surrounding the rookie back, a Kansas native, and he made a big impression in the Big 12. This Wichita man could be the first Jets rookie to take home the award since Joe Namath nearly 60 years ago. Get all the latest NFL odds with Bet365.

Treylon Burks – 7/1

Another wide receiver who is set to make a big impact is Arkansas alumni Treylon Burks. Burks is joining an established Titans offense run by the experienced campaigner Ryan Tannehill. With A.J. Brown being traded to the Eagles, Tennessee are banking on the quick development of Burks and are sure to give him a lot of the ball.

Christian Watson – 8/1

One name that is sure to garner support is Christian Watson, the North Dakota State Bison, who was 34th overall pick. The wide receiver will be linking up with one of the most experienced and talented quarterbacks in the game in Aaron Rodgers. He may have been picked in the second round, but he will instantly become one of the most-targeted players in Green Bay’s offense following their release of Davante Adams.

Defensive Rookie of the Year Contenders

This year’s Defensive award is particularly hard to call. A number of very good players drafted early won’t be starting on Day 1 this year so it becomes a question of who will thrive this season based on their team situation.

Kayvon Thibodeaux – 11/2

The past three Defensive Rookies of the Year have had pass-rushing as their primary assignment, making Kayvon Thibodeaux the favourite. The outside line-backer for the New York Giants is going to be a contributor from the opening game day and during his college career had an incredible ability to beat pass blockers.

There are no guarantees in the NFL Draft and the Giants haven’t had much success post Eli Manning, but Thibodeaux has all the potential to be their next Michael Strahan. Bet £10 and get a £10 free bet with BetStorm.        

Aidan Hutchinson – 6/1

Another leading contender is Aidan Hutchinson, who is all about getting to the quarterback. The second overall pick for the Lions is set to play an important role for their defence as a week one starter, so if he stays healthy and performs to his ability, he will take some beating. Detroit has been short in the pass rushing department for a while now, and he has the tools to make an instant impact.

Travon Walker – 6/1

Number 1 draft selection Travon Walker is a short price for the award, but may be one to avoid. While Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are viewed as instant contributors, Walker was picked because of his potential, and he has a lot of work to put in before he’s an elite pass-rusher. Walker is also joining a Jaguars team with some strength in his position in the form of Josh Allen. He’ll have to prove he is a better rusher than Allen in training camp before he is an automatic starter, never mind a contender for the best rookie defender of the season. Join SportNation now and enjoy a free £5 bet every week!

Devin Lloyd – 9/1

Underneath these three front-runners is another new Jaguar in the shape of line-backer Devin Lloyd. His production at Utah was really impressive, notching up 256 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and 43 tackles for loss during his collegiate career. Lloyd could well play a more important role than Walker in their rookie season.

Kyle Hamilton – 10/1

No safety has won the award since Mark Carrier in 1990, but Kyle Hamilton could be set for a big season with the Ravens. His body of work suggests he’s more than capable of being an impact player in the NFL. He’s a playmaker at multiple different levels of defence and has a do-it-all nature to his game.

The Notre Dame star struggled in the combine which caused the one-time, top-5 prospect to drop to the 14th overall pick. Baltimore, though, have a history of trusting what they see on tape over the stopwatch, and have no concerns about Hamilton’s pace. Both Ravens legends – Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs – struggled similarly in the speed test and slid down the picks. If he can make even close to the impact that those pair made he has to be a contender.

Continue to follow us as we build up to this exciting new NFL season with all the latest news and betting odds.

The post NFL Rookie of the Year Awards Betting Preview appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Ernesto Cova

The MLB ball change 2022 is not a secret anymore. The cat’s out of the hat, the players alerted us, and the numbers speak for themselves. Even if we didn’t have analytics and all those advanced metrics, you don’t need to be an expert or go through a meticulous eye test to realize that hitting is a dying breed in today’s baseball.

With offense down in MLB, fans are starting to lose even more interest in the game. Robert Manfred is making sure to put the last nail in baseball’s coffin, constantly making up experiments without even daring to face the players and let them know what’s happening.

Manfred’s ego and lack of true knowledge of this sport have the league in a chokehold. We have different baseballs in the minors for reasons he can’t explain. We had different baseballs in a single season last year, once again, without further notice or a reasonable explanation.

MLB ball change 2022

The players once again stepped up and talked. They know something’s wrong. Analytics prove that the average exit velocity of hits is harder than ever —because hitters are stronger and more prepared than ever— yet we’ve seen a massive dip in home runs.

“The walk rate (9.1%) is higher than it’s been since the 1950s,” reported Max Laughton of Fox Sports. “There are fewer singles (13.3% of plate appearances) than ever. Balls in play are turning into outs at the highest rate in three decades.

“And the deadened ball is clearly having an impact. Advanced tracking systems are able to predict how often a certain type of hit – based on its speed and angle – should result in a home run,” Laughton added.

“According to Statcast, flyballs hit this season should’ve resulted in a slugging percentage of .969. Instead the number is .721, a massive drop-off that means it is much harder than it ‘should be’ to hit home runs.”

Offense down in MLB

The logic behind deadening the baseball is simple.

If home runs are harder to hit, then players will need to shift their focus and make adjustments to make more contact and put the ball in play more often.

If Manfred had picked up a bat at least once in his lifetime, he’d know that’s not nearly as easy as it sounds, nor will it happen all of a sudden.

Harder hits, shorter distance

Despite posting records in exit velocity, the average travel distance on this year’s hits has gone down six feet. That may not seem like much but this often the difference between a home run and an easy, manageable fly-out. No wonder oddsmakers have adjusted and projected game totals at 6.5 and 7 runs more often than ever.

Baseball changes have pretty much killed offense. Teams are averaging roughly over 4.0 runs per game, the lowest total since the 1980 season. And yeah, it’s not like we don’t enjoy good old-fashioned pitching duels or defensive plays, it’s that we don’t even get to watch that.

With today’s model, most at-bats end in strikeouts, walks, or homers. The so-called ‘three outcomes’ prevent fans from watching elite fielding or how an outfielder can throw a rocket from the walls. Manfred is succeeding on his personal crusade to shoot this beautiful sport dead.

Mets players are on to something

In the meantime, New York Mets players have shared a rather interesting theory. They believe MLB is giving them ‘juiced’ balls for primetime games and deadened baseballs for everyday games. In a recent interview with News Day, Mets hitting coach Eric Chavez discussed the matter:

“The ball was traveling farther—balls that weren’t hit as hard,” Chavez explained. “And I’m like, wait a minute, that shouldn’t have happened. The ball was just traveling better. That was the eye test, but then we lined it up with what the analytics were telling us.”

“We’ve been hitting balls 104, 105 [mph] at the right launch angle that aren’t leaving,” Chavez added. “And all of a sudden, now we’re hitting balls 95—a little less hard than the other balls—and those balls are traveling on Sunday night.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that MLB uses two different sets of baseballs during the same season to try and fix the game in favor of offense. Once again, Manfred continues to play God and insult the fans’ and players’ intelligence thinking they won’t know the difference. We KNOW the difference.

Manfred’s excuse doesn’t add up

Back in 2021, players called the league out and stated that there were two different baseballs. Manfred claimed that the COVID-19’s impact on Rawlings — which manufactures the balls — had forced them to dig deep into their inventory of baseballs. Assuming that’s true, why not flat-out let the public or at least the players know beforehand?

It’s only normal to think the game could use a couple of changes as long as it doesn’t mess with its very essence. You can’t play puppet master and change the rules every time you please without a heads up. It doesn’t make sense and the poor ratings are living proof of that.

Analytics matter in baseball but so does the game. So do the fans who want to watch an actual baseball game rather than a Machiavellian experiment with players treated like Guinea pigs or rats trying to find their way out of a maze. These people have kept the game captive for way too long.

The post Changes to the baseball are an insult to fans and a risk to the future of the sport appeared first on Franchise Sports.

- Jeremy Mallari
10 greatest dunkers in NBA history

There’s more electrifying and crowd-hyping move in basketball than a slam dunk. This gets fans out of their seats while the bench celebrates like crazy. Throughout history, we witnessed thousands of monster dunks from some of the greatest dunkers of all time such as Vince Carter, Michael Jordan, and Dominique Wilkins.

Greatest dunkers of all time

Nowadays, dunks are creative more than ever. There are different variations and combinations of tomahawks, windmills, 360s, and between-the-legs. The best dunkers in NBA history have no trouble doing these kinds of dunks due to their freakish athleticism. Many of them even throw it down against taller defenders!

Here are the ten greatest dunkers of all time.

Honorable mentions: Darryl Dawkins, David Thompson, Clyde Drexler

10. Shaquille O’Neal

One of the greatest dunkers of all time, Shaquille O’Neal is the definition of sheer force and brute strength. Shaq was a 7-foot-1 center but moved incredibly well and was uber-athletic for his size, especially in his Orlando days.

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Shaq has hundreds of posterizing dunks against hapless defenders who tried to stop him. It was a normal thing for him to dunk over opposing big men since he uses his strength to overpower them down low. On fast breaks, he could also run the floor for the uncontested slam.

Due to his weight and the power of his dunks, Shaq shattered a few backboards. That just shows how powerful his dunks were.

9. Tracy McGrady

Tracy McGrady had a short-lived career due to injuries. However, he was a dunking machine early in his career. His athleticism was off the charts as he tried to throw everything down whenever he got the chance.

T-Mac wasn’t afraid to go to the rim even against the league’s premier shot blockers. His most famous dunk was the one against 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley in the 2006 Playoffs.

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In 2000, McGrady participated in one of the greatest dunk contests ever. He put up some spectacular dunks and battled neck-to-neck against the league’s top dunkers such as Steve Francis, and his teammate Vince Carter.

8. Blake Griffin

The “Lob City” Clippers were a thing of beauty. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan were the centerpiece of this squad. However, it was Griffin who shined amongst these three since he was always on the receiving end of the alley-oops.

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Griffin’s size and vertical leap allowed him to catch lobs with ease and throw it down with anger and passion. His game was similar to Shawn Kemp‘s. They were both virtually unstoppable when catching lobs or driving to the basket. This allowed Griffin to posterize 7-foot players. His posters against Pau Gasol, Kris Humphries, and Kendrick Perkins were amongst the most humiliating dunks in NBA history.

Griffin is also a one-time dunk champion.

7. LeBron James

Despite not joining the dunk contest throughout his entire career, LeBron James is still considered one of the top dunkers ever. Instead, he made the real NBA games his own dunk contest. Here, he’s not afraid to go up against taller defenders with his patented tomahawk dunk.

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James is a physical monster at 6-foot-9. There’s simply no stopping him from dunking the ball when he attacks the basket due to his strength and explosiveness. He already caught a lot of bodies in his career, and he’s still doing it at age 37.

6. Kobe Bryant

Before he was a master of the midrange game, Kobe Bryant was a freakish athlete who constantly attacked the rim. Earlier in his career, he had a fair share of highlight dunks ranging from windmills to 360s.

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Bryant caught a lot of bodies throughout his career. And these are not just average defenders. Rather, he dunked on all-time greats such as Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Garnett.

Let’s also not forget that Bryant was a slam dunk champion in 1997 as a rookie. He was just 18 years old at this time.

5. Shawn Kemp

No other player in NBA history threw dunks harder than Shawn Kemp. He’s definitely one of the most entertaining dunkers ever, especially since he played with Gary Payton in Seattle. Payton would just throw an alley and Kemp would throw down the oop with malicious intent.

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Aside from the alley-oops, Kemp could also throw it down emphatically on drives to the basket. This is evident from the iconic poster dunk he made against Golden State’s Alton Lister. Throughout his career, Kemp caught bodies left and right.

4. Julius Erving

Nicknamed “Dr. J”, Julius Erving is the godfather of dunking. He paved the way for players who played above the rim to flourish in the league. The way he revolutionized dunks early in the NBA made him one of the greatest dunkers of all time.

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Erving palmed the ball with ease with his huge hands which allowed him to move freely in the air. Combine that with his vertical leap and size, there’s no other player that can stop him from throwing it down at the rim.

Perhaps his most memorable one is the “Rock the baby” dunk where he cradled the ball in the air and dunked it over Michael Cooper.

3. Dominique Wilkins

One of the best dunkers in NBA history, Dominique Wilkins will always be remembered for putting up highlight dunks every game. He dunked the basketball with creativity like Carter and power like Kemp. His 6-foot-8 size and explosiveness gave him a huge advantage to throw it down against taller defenders.

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The 1988 Dunk Contest between Wilkins and Michael Jordan is one of the greatest dunk contests ever. It was a head-to-head battle from start to finish—a battle of power vs hangtime. Ultimately, Jordan won but there was a controversy that Wilkins was robbed. Even though Wilkins didn’t win the 1988 trophy, he was a two-time dunk champion.

2. Michael Jordan

Other than having an unstoppable midrange jumper, Michael Jordan had another major weapon in his arsenal—a dunk. His hangtime was what made him deadly when attacking the rim. Defenders were going down after the initial jump while Jordan still floated in the air.

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Jordan was known for his competitiveness. He would constantly dunk on defenders to put himself at an advantage mentally. Mutombo, one of the league’s best shot-blockers back then, was famous for his finger-wag celebration after getting a block. But Jordan got his revenge in the playoffs when he dunked on him and gave the finger-wag back. That’s how competitive he is.

No other player in NBA history made dunks with style and grace like Jordan. In the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest, Jordan performed one of his best dunks of all time, a free throw line dunk. He literally looked like he was flying in the air as he glided towards the rim with his tongue out.

1. Vince Carter

There’s no doubt that Vince Carter is the greatest dunker of all time. Whether in-game or in a slam dunk contest, Vinsanity made his dunks look so effortless. He could jump out of the building and throw it down emphatically even against taller defenders.

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His most famous dunk is the “Dunk of Death” where he jumped over 7-foot-tall Frederic Weis in the Olympics. This ended Weis’ career as he never made it to play a single game in the NBA despite being drafted by the Knicks in the first round.

Carter didn’t slack in the dunk contest either. In the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, he performed one of the greatest dunks in dunk contest history, a 360 windmill dunk. His iconic “It’s over” celebration is the icing on the cake for this amazing performance.

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