Wide Learning For Tommy Streeter

Tommy Streeter has already learned an important lesson: Listen to Anquan Boldin most of the time, but not necessarily all of the time.

Via an interview at baltimoreravens.com, the rookie wide receiver talked about why, after catching a touchdown pass in a red-zone drill at minicamp, he punted the ball. Streeter said he’d heard Boldin shouting from the sideline that the punt would be an appropriate way to celebrate. The Ravens coaches informed Streeter that such wasn’t the case.

However, Streeter said he’s soaking up knowledge from veteran receiver Boldin.

“He’s an unbelievable guy, full of knowledge and experience in the game, very passionate. …” Streeter said. “I just look at the way he approaches the game, how he prepares himself for practice. He’s been giving me tips for getting open.”

Streeter said he also has enjoyed going up against cornerback Lardarius Webb, known to talk a little trash on the field.

“He kind of brings a different element to the game,” Streeter said. “You know, it’s fun. It’s no fun when it’s a quiet practice out there and everybody is serious.”

Streeter, taken in the sixth round, is potentially a steal if he can harness some of the potential he showed at Miami, and a 6-foot-5 wideout could come in handy in the red zone.

Bookmark and Share

Roger Goodell files motion to dismiss Jonathan Vilma's suit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has filed a motion to dismiss defamation claims made against him by suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in connection with the league's bounty investigation.

The motion filed Thursday comes in response to claims Vilma made in a lawsuit filed in May in federal court in New Orleans.

Vilma claims his suspension is without merit and that Goodell has made false public comments that have damaged Vilma's reputation and hurt his ability to continue to make a living by playing football and through related endorsement deals.

Goodell's motion says Vilma's claims are barred by dispute resolution procedures laid out by the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.

The motion also says Vilma's claim would fail under a Louisiana law that protects statements about matters of public importance.

Bookmark and Share

Where to See Devin Hester Doing Good

Bears fans have two chances coming up to meet some of their favorite players and spend money on worthwhile causes.

On July 21, Devin Hester will hold an autograph signing in Crystal Lake. He'll autograph any item for $79 and add a personal inscription for an extra $30. Proceeds from the event will go to benefit 4-year-old Sean Keller, who is fighting leukemia. His family needs help with hospital bills, and they are thrilled Sean's favorite player is lending a hand.

According to the Northwest Indiana Times, Keller will get to meet Hester at the event, and he has just one question about the Bears kick returner and receiver.

“He’s like, ‘How big is he? Is he bigger than Daddy?’ That’s what he wants to know,” Sean’s mother, Val Keller, said with a laugh.

The signing starts at 6 p.m. at Joseph’s Market Place, 29 Crystal Lake Plaza, in Crystal Lake. Click here to buy tickets.

Bookmark and Share

DJ Williams could be released by Broncos

Last week, DJ Williams lost the appeal of his 6 game suspension for providing a “non-human specimen” in a drug test. Since then, there has been speculation that Williams could be released. Williams has a history of off the field issues and is owed 11 million dollars over the final 2 years of his contract in 2012-2013. Being suspended for 6 games is not helping his case. The Broncos could give Wesley Woodyard, a talented young linebacker, an every down role. They also have 2011 3rd round pick Nate Livings, to go with middle linebacker Joe Mays and outside linebacker Von Miller. On top of that, 6th round rookie Danny Trevathan is impressing in camp. They would be fine without Williams, who is not the player he used to be. He was ProFootballFocus’ 35th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker last year, including playoffs.

Bookmark and Share

Michael Irvin talks ‘Madden 13,’ Megatron

Play “Madden NFL 13” and you have the chance to draft a rookie version of Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

So I ask “The Playmaker”: If he could do it all over again, what advice would he give a rookie Irvin before heading into the NFL?
“I would tell a young me that at this level, you can’t win games all by yourself; football is a team sport,” he tells me as we talk football and “Madden” at a recent EA Sports event in Chicago. “When I first came into the league, I thought it was going to be easy. I thought when Dallas drafted me, we were immediately going to the Super Bowl and we were winning everything. Coming from Miami, I lost two or three games in three years, then I get to Dallas and the first game we play, we got our heads kicked in. Second game? We got our heads kicked in. I couldn’t understand how we were losing when I was out on the field.

“That’s when I realized, you can’t do it by yourself. Then we got Troy and Emmitt and things started working out, but that’s the biggest thing young players need to understand. You need teammates in the NFL. This is not Little League where you can just go out and run things.”

ESPN Playbook: When I draft you in “Madden NFL 13,” I can pick you for any team. If I could put a rookie Michael Irvin on any current roster, where would you like to play?
Michael Irvin: Before I was drafted in real life, being from Miami, I wish I could’ve played with Dan Marino and the Dolphins. I used to hang out with Mark Duper and Mark Clayton when I was at the University of Miami, and I thought I could’ve been that big receiver for them.

If I could join any current team, put me with Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. I’d go off in that offense with Rodgers. The other quarterback I’d like to play with is Tom Brady. Only problem is, both of those places get pretty cold. [Laughs] I love the way those guys throw the ball.

Other legends in “Madden” this year include Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. Do you think you would have gotten that last ring if Deion would’ve stayed in San Francisco and never joined the Cowboys? He really seemed to swing the balance of power.
Listen, we were getting rings long before Deion went anywhere. I think that no-pass interference call and the three turnovers we gave up at the beginning of that game swung the balance of power for that playoff game. If we would’ve come back and won that game, there would’ve been no balance of power swung. Trust me, now. We spotted them 21 and closed the gap. I don’t think anyone could’ve spotted us 21 and closed the gap.

Did you used to play “Madden” back in the day?
I played “Madden” all the time, especially back when I was still in the league. If Dallas was about to play Chicago, I’d play against the Bears in “Madden” and I’d sit there and throw the ball to me every time. Every guy in the National Football League does that. I guarantee it. Without even asking or taking a poll, every guy in the NFL plays “Madden,” and they sit there and make themselves a star, whether they really are one or not. And the great thing about the game is, it keeps us relevant. I run into kids all the time and they’re like, “Hey, you’re that football player from the movie, ‘The Longest Yard.’ I’m like, ‘No, no, I’m a real football player who did a movie.’ [Laughs] But now with “Madden” and this legends program, it makes us important in their eyes because you have to earn these legends. It makes you want to research the legends you’re playing as, and it introduces us to this younger audience, who never saw us play in real life. That’s how I think about it. I want these kids to want to be that Michael Irvin guy from Dallas. That Michael Irvin guy is a 99, I need to have him on my team. That’s cool.

Another big receiver, Calvin Johnson, is going to be on the cover this year. Do you believe in the “Madden” Curse?
I’m a spiritual man, and the Bible tells me: “As a man thinketh, so is he.” There’s a financial term called the expectancy theory, where we’re expecting a recession, we’re expecting it and expecting it for so long, that we all hold on to our money and we get that recession. Same thing for the “Madden” Curse. Calvin just needs to go out there and play the game and play hard. I don’t believe in curses. Marshall Faulk was on the cover twice and he’s still moving. Trust me, Calvin Johnson is a bad man. He’ll be fine.

How would you compare Calvin Johnson and his skill set to big receivers like yourself?
Calvin Johnson is taking things to a whole different level, but some of that is because of the different rules. I was a big receiver, but I was still required to run routes. Now they’re running to areas and throwing the ball up for grabs. There are less routes due to the defensive calls that are being made. We had a lot more one-on-one bouts. We had Michael Irvin versus Darrell Green or Michael Irvin versus Deion Sanders. They don’t have one-on-one, man versus man. Now it’s about scheme versus scheme. Who is the big wide receiver versus defensive back match-up today? It’s only Darrelle Revis and whoever he plays. There are no other cornerbacks who play like that. It’s a different league, but Calvin is a beast.

What do you think your stats would’ve looked like if you didn’t have to worry about the safety flying over and trying to take your head off?
That’s another thing. I believe that courage, courage is a hell of a trait, and with the new rules, they’ve removed some of the courage out of the game. People used to say to me, “Michael is fearless.” I’m not fearless. Everybody has fear, we’re human, we all have fear, but courage says that I have the ability to overcome my fear. But now you don’t have to worry about that -- boom, boom -- I was worried about it, but I overcame it with courage. They’ve removed the courage out of the game. Still a great game, but the courage has been removed.

Bookmark and Share

Yasmani Grandal Figures To Be San Diego's Main Catcher Going Forward

Yasmani Grandal, Padres -- Grandal earned the call to the majors over the weekend and celebrated by homering twice in his first career start. He thrived at Triple-A Tucson this season, hitting .335/.443/.521 with six homers, 18 doubles and 35 RBI in 194 at-bats. He has started all four games since getting the call, and figures to be San Diego's primary catcher going forward. We all know the familiar refrain with hitters in Petco Park at this point, but Grandal has a ton of raw power and a position that is forever shallow. Those of you in keeper or dynasty leagues should pounce, and Grandal should be rostered in nearly all formats.

Bookmark and Share

Eddy Rodriguez rockets Lake Elsinore Storm to 6-5 win

In game one on Wednesday of the Lake Elsinore Storms’ series against the High Desert Mavericks, the two battled into extra innings with a 10-10 tie in the ninth. The Storm was able to prevail and win 12-11.

Thursday, in game two of three the game went tied 5-5 into the ninth when Eddy Rodriguez hit a single to left field, scoring Casey McElroy to lift the Storm to a 6-5 victory.

Eddy Rodriguez tied the game up for the Storm when he hit a solo shot to right field. It was his third home run in two games and his team leading 11th of the season.

In the ninth his single scored a run and Kevin Quackenbush came in and picked up his 16th save of the season to claim the fifth consecutive series in the second half.

Storm reliever Alexis Lara went two innings, allowing no runs, no hits and struck out three for his first win with the Storm.

Bookmark and Share

Miami Marlins future bleak for Gaby Sanchez

If Gaby Sanchez plays in the majors again in 2012, it probably won’t be with the Miami Marlins. The Carlos Lee acquisition sent Sanchez back to Triple-A New Orleans, leaving his future with the organization nebulous at best.

Lee is a rental, so theoretically Sanchez could be back in Marlins spring training next February competing for his old job. Keeping him in the minors the rest of the season guarantees Sanchez would not become arbitration-eligible as a “Super Two.” The top 22 percent of players with between two and three years of service time qualifying for arbitration as Super Twos.

Sanchez’s service time is at 2 years, 134 days. That’s the precise cutoff for the next Super Two class, according to Creative Artists Agency’s (CAA) preseason estimation. Even if Sanchez has enough service time, players need to accrue at least 86 days the preceding season. Sanchez has totaled 72 this year.

If Sanchez somehow makes it back up and does qualify for arbitration, he wouldn’t be due a huge raise. Yet that money would be guaranteed whether Sanchez was in the majors or minors, so the Marlins probably would look to trade him or just not tender him a contract.

Bookmark and Share

Is Yasmani Grandal A Catcher Or A Magician?

Some things are simply not easy to explain. Right about now, I'd like to add "What kind of magic does Yasmani Grandal possess?" to the list of our universe's mysteries.

On Saturday, the Padres were coming off an ugly loss to the Rockies and fighting for the worst record in baseball. They decided to make a change at catcher, sending Nick Hundley to AAA Tucson and bringing up Yasmani Grandal, one of the hottest prospects in baseball.

I want to know if he brought Wonderboy with him, because what's happened since has defied logic.

Just as Roy Hobbs suddenly changed the fortunes of the New York Knights, Yasmani Grandal has turned the Padres in to a juggernaut.

The Padres beat the Diamondbacks 8-6 on Wednesday night, completing their first sweep ever in Arizona. Not even in 1998, when the Padres went to the World Series and the Diamondbacks were a 97-loss expansion team, had San Diego swept a 3-game series in Phoenix.

Can it be any coincidence that Grandal is around for it to happen?

Since they called him up, the Padres are 5-0 (their first 5-game win streak of the season). On Wednesday Grandal didn't start. Sure enough, in the 8th inning, with the game tied 4-4, Yasmani came on to pinch-hit and promptly smacked a 2-run home run. It's almost as if his mere presence inspires offense.

San Diego scored two more runs in the 9th inning, giving them 4 runs in 7 innings without Grandal, 4 runs in 2 innings with him.

Chris Denorfia went 4-5 with 3 runs scored hitting in the leadoff spot.

The Padres finish their 10-game road trip 7-3, easily their best stretch of the season on the road OR at home. Grandal has hit 4 home runs. The Padres have scored 33 runs, their most prolific 5-game stretch of the season.

Is it all because of Grandal? Probably not. But I'm not going to rule it out completely.

Bookmark and Share

Chris Perez records 24th straight save

Chris Perez pitched around a leadoff single to shut down the Rays in the ninth inning on Thursday, recording his 24th consecutive save.

After blowing his first chance of the season on April 5, Perez has been a perfect 24-for-24 in save opportunities, giving the Indians tremendous stability at the back of the bullpen. While his 2.59 ERA and 32 K's in 31 1/3 innings don't scream "elite closer", he's been one of the best in the league this season.

Bookmark and Share

Aubrey Huff aggravates injury on rehab stint

Aubrey Huff (knee) reinjured himself Wednesday while playing in his first rehab game with High-A San Jose.

Huff, out since June 11 with a sprained right knee, pulled up lame while running the bases after his first at-bat. He's scheduled to meet with a doctor on Thursday, after which the Giants will make a determination about whether to end his rehab stint.

Bookmark and Share

Lamar Miller "showed explosive change-of-direction ability"

Rookie RB Lamar Miller "showed explosive change-of-direction ability" in OTAs.

The Sporting News expects Miller, the fastest running back in the draft, to contribute on third downs and perhaps as a slot receiver this season. But his real chance could come in 2013, as Reggie Bush's contract is up after this year. Miller would likely need an injury to Bush or Daniel Thomas to show up on the redraft radar as a rookie.

Bookmark and Share

EVEN MORE PHOTOS: University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame 2012 Fishing Tournament

On the weekend of June 29th 2012 the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame hosted its 2nd Annual FishingTournament at the Postcard Inn in the Florida Keys featuring former Miami Hurricanes and many proCanes including: Warren Sapp, Damien Berry, Quadtrine Hill, Gerard Daphnis, KC Jones, Damione Lewis and many more! Over 50 boats competed to haul in the heaviest fish and a night of fun and partying ensued on the beach. Check out the photos below!








Click here to see more photos --->>>>>>

Olivier Vernon finding his way on path from 'Canes to 'Phins

DAVIE— The haze surrounding his jump to the NFL lifted one day while chewing on some lunch.

Olivier Vernon was sitting with Lamar Miller, the former Miami Hurricanes teammates seamlessly reunited as rookies with the Miami Dolphins.
Miller's presence made this new NFL world seem more real.

They represent the first Hurricanes taken by the Dolphins since Vernon Carey in 2004. They also symbolize hope for thousands of South Florida children strapping on football helmets for the first time hoping to find a similar path.

Vernon and Miller are home grown, their journey from the youth football fields to Coral Gables to the NFL never required a plan ticket.

And after a spring of progression that now comes with a pay check, they appear ready to seize the opportunity to make a lasting impact.
And Vernon now sees his path very clearly.

"It was crazy, we never really thought about that before," Vernon said of playing an entire football career in South Florida. "We never really thought it was gonna happen. ... We never would have thought we would have been where we are right now, but we're just enjoying it taking it in stride."

Vernon (6-2, 261 pounds) was picked in the third round (72 overall) in April's NFL draft, and brought in to compete at defensive end. The Dolphins were impressed with Vernon despite a six-game suspension to begin 2011 for receiving impermissible benefits. Vernon played the final six games for UM compiling 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Still in the infancy of his NFL career, Vernon hasn't backed down despite his rookie status.

During one minicamp drill last month, Vernon got into a scuffle with Dolphins star left tackle Jake Long — one Vernon dismissed as a heat-of-the-moment-type tangle.

"We're cool," Vernon said. "It's a battle. Everyone's always competing every day. You're trying to win one-on-ones. You're trying to get to the quarterback. The offensive line, they're trying to block. They're trying to get pancakes and stuff like that, but it's competition."

Vernon said he completed three years of college, and after a year to learn the daily routine of an NFL player he would like to one day to complete his degree in criminology.

Had the NFL not been an option, Vernon said he would likely have followed in the path of his father, Lascelles Vernon, who works for the Miami Beach Police Department.

"I would have probably been a cop or detective, something like that," Vernon said, "been on [The] First 48."

Vernon said his father often shares stories from traffic tickets to the few Vernon prefers not to detail in public.

The few life-and-death stories left an impression on Vernon, but not until he began to comprehend his own mortality.

That gave him a greater appreciation for his father's daily ritual of leaving the house for work.

"My dad really puts his life on the line, and risks his life every time he goes out there," Vernon said. "I started realizing that when I started getting older. Like, 'Damn, it could be the last time I see my dad when he goes to work.' I appreciate what he does, and what he does for our family."
Now Vernon has the chance to be a role model himself.

The Hurricanes and the community are no doubt keeping close tabs on Vernon and Miller, including Al Golden, the coach at the University of Miami.

"There's a lot of talented players on teams around the NFL," Golden said.

"But these are two talented players that are home grown, and have tremendous character. The combination of those three is what makes us unique, and we'll certainly benefit from it, the Miami Dolphins will benefit from it, but most importantly the fans.

"I think Dolphin fans will look back two years from now and say that they ended up with three first-round picks in Vernon, [Ryan] Tannehill and Miller. I think those two have tremendous upside, and potential and will go on to have great careers for the Dolphins."

Bookmark and Share

Marcus Forston on New England Patriots Bubble

NAME: Marcus Forston

POSITION: Defensive tackle

AGE: 22

2011 STATS: 3 games (all starts), 5 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble -- with Miami (FL)

INJURY STATUS: No known injuries


WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: Forston is an intriguing prospect at a position where the Patriots have more question marks than quality depth. One of the nation's best at his position coming out of high school, Forston was set to enter the draft after the 2010 season, but decided to stay in Miami for his redshirt junior campaign. ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper rated Forston the second-best junior defensive tackle last summer, and he was on preseason watchlists for several college football awards. However, Forston was suspended for the first game of the season along with 11 other Miami players for receiving improper benefits while being recruited, and later suffered a season-ending knee injury. Should he emerge during the preseason, Forston could earn a role with the Patriots at a position the team didn't address through the draft or free agency.

WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: One major storyline that will continue through training camp and into the preseason will be the use of sub packages on defense, and how that affects playing time of defensive linemen. If the Patriots are comfortable with having defensive ends Jonathan Fanene and Brandon Deaderick slide inside in the event of an injury to interior linemen Vince Wilfork or Kyle Love, there will be less of a need to keep more than one or two reserve options at defensive tackle on the roster. This will put on a squeeze at the position where Forston would be better served on the practice squad, with more experienced players such as Gerard Warren or Myron Pryor grabbing the few roster spots that may be available.

CLOSEST COMPETITION: DT Ron Brace, DT Gerard Warren, DT Myron Pryor

Bookmark and Share

Frank Gore to enter boxing ring Saturday

49ers running back Frank Gore will enter the boxing ring this Saturday, July 7, not for a bout of his own but as part of Nonito Donaire's posse. Gore will carry the WBO super bantamweight belt belonging to San Leandro's champion, according to a report from maxboxing.com.

Donaire is scheduled to fight Jeffrey Mathebula (26-3-2, 14 KOs) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California this weekend in the WBO and IBF super bantamweight title unification fight.

The five-foot-seven Donaire won his last fight at 122-pounds, defeating Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. to claim the vacant WBO super bantamweight title and push his professional record to 28-1-0 with 18 knockouts. He is tied with Andre Ward as the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in CSNBayArea.com's Northern California rankings.

Gore cultivated a relationship with Donaire when he began to train with his speed coach Remi Korchemny, the former sprinting coach who runs the Speed Development Center in the Bay Area, reportedly about six weeks ago.

"I work occasionally with Frank," Korchemny said in an email. "I think that Frank benefits from working with Nonito, becoming more persistent and a winning-oriented athlete."

Gore, five-foot-nine and 217 pounds, played in all 16 games in his seventh NFL season after missing time in each of the three seasons prior. The three-time Pro Bowler knows he has to stay on top of his game; the 49ers have a host of backs lining up behind Gore. Kendall Hunter is looking to build off his productive rookie season in which he averaged 4.2 yards per carry. The 49ers drafted Oregon standout LaMichael James and brought in world champion Brandon Jacobs. And Anthony Dixon and Rock Cartwright are both on the roster.

Korchemny played a key role in the 2003 BALCO scandal and was the first coach disciplined by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Donaire has been working with him, and BALCO founder Victor Conte, for the past two years.

"I'll tell you," Korchemny said. "He is a very motivated and disciplined fighter."

Bookmark and Share

Damien Berry Battling For the Ravens' Number 2 RB Spot

Ricky Williams left a void in the Ravens offense when he retired. As of yet, no one has stepped in to claim the role of No. 2 running back behind Ray Rice.

In the view of The Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson, neither Anthony Allen, Damien Berry nor Bernard Pierce “has separated himself from the pack yet.”

Wilson wrote that each jumped out at times during minicamp, but it’s still a wide-open competition heading into training camp.

Allen saw a tiny bit of action last season, Berry spent the year on the practice squad and Pierce was taken in the third round of this year’s draft. Both Allen and Berry worked in the off-season to produce new physiques.

Allen, though he still packs 230 pounds on his 6-foot frame, dropped a lot of fat.

“I just rearranged the weight a little bit,” Allen told Wilson. “I don’t know how much body fat I lost. I’m the same weight. I’m way leaner, though. I picked up my conditioning. I never ate beef or pork, but I’m cleaning up the things I eat. … I feel a lot better. I’m going through drills way faster. My recovery is so much faster.”

Berry has added 12 pounds of muscle from off-season workouts at The Castle. He now goes 223 pounds at 5-10.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said: “He has gotten bigger. He has gotten stronger. You can tell that he has done a ton of work. He has done a great job in our weight room. I just love his approach. He’s another guy that I think is going to shine when the pads come on because he is big, fast and physical. He likes football. It means a lot to him. I think we’ll be pleased. I think he is primed to have a great preseason, and then we’ll go from there.”

As for Pierce, Wilson makes the point that “the Ravens have the greatest investment in Pierce. And he seems the most suited for full-time duty if Rice was unavailable.”

Pierce, who has a four-year, $2.66 million contract with a signing bonus over $555,000, said he has “felt real comfortable” operating in the Ravens’ zone running scheme.

“The one thing is you can see why we drafted him,” Cameron said. “I can’t wait until the pads come on. I think that becomes the true test for any young player, but he is physical, smart and fast. … One thing that is obvious is that he is a good football player.”

Is he better than the other two competing for the No. 2 spot? It’s something to keep an eye on during camp.

Bookmark and Share

Goodell upholds Jon Vilma's bounty suspensions

Roger Goodell is standing by the NFL's investigation into the Saints' bounty system, informing the four players who received suspensions as a result of the alleged pay-for-play setup that their discipline has been upheld.

That means a season-long suspension without pay for Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Also suspended without pay are Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (first eight games of 2012), Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games) and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (three games).

Bookmark and Share

John Salmons will not be amnestied

John Salmons is not a candidate for the amnesty clause, according to Kings beat writer Jason Jones.

Salmons is owed more than $15 million over the next two seasons, but he'll reportedly stick around unless there is a "change in philosophy" within the organization. The veteran really struggled last season, barely shooting 40 percent from the field (40.9) while never finding his groove in the offense.

Bookmark and Share

Aubrey Huff begins rehab assignment in San Jose

Aubrey Huff’s road back to the majors will begin Wednesday in San Jose.

The first baseman, who sprained his knee during celebrations of Matt Cain’s perfect game, will begin a rehab assignment with the class-A San Jose Giants.

Huff has appeared in just 32 games this season due to two stints on the disabled list. He first went on the DL in late April due to what the Giants called an anxiety disorder. That caused him to suddenly leave the team before an April 23 doubleheader with the Mets.

Huff then fell hard on his knee while attempting to jump over the dugout railing to celebrate Cain’s perfect game on June 13.

The 35-year-old has struggled in his limited time this season, hitting just .155 (9-for-58) with one home run and five RBI.

The San Jose Giants begin a six-game homestand against the Modesto Nuts and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Wednesday.

Bookmark and Share

Yasmani Grandal’s 4th HR in 6 major-league hits lifts Padres to 1st sweep in Arizona

PHOENIX — Right after Yasmani Grandal swung for strike two, a paper airplane came floating from the upper reaches of Chase Field and almost hit him, coming to rest between the batter and catcher Miguel Montero.

The next pitch, on an 0-2 count, Grandal air mailed one of his own, a pinch-hit two-run homer that propelled the San Diego Padres to an 8-6 victory Wednesday night and their first three-game sweep in Phoenix.

Grandal has now homered in four of his six hits. He already had become the seventh player since 1900 to homer in his first three hits. He hit David Hernandez’s pitch just over the right field fence. Justin Upton made a leaping try but the ball bounced off his glove.

“I can’t explain it, I really can’t,” manager Bud Black said of Grandal’s big hits.

Neither can Grandal.

“If I would have known that I would hit four home runs in five games, I would have said ‘No,’” he said. “Yeah, I’m definitely surprising myself. It’s unexplainable.”

He doesn’t mind setting the bar high for himself though.

“You need to make a statement when you come into the league,” Grandal said, “and I guess it’s working.”

Jason Kubel, who had a grand slam for Arizona in Tuesday night’s 9-5 loss, hit a three-run homer.

The Padres won their season-best fifth straight and earned their second three-game sweep of the year. Arizona has lost five in a row.

In front of 48,819 — Arizona’s first home sellout since the season opener — the Padres won their first series in Phoenix since May of 2009. Before this week, San Diego had gone 1-7 at Chase since then. A sweep was even more unlikely, given the history.

“Not that I’ve looked at records a great, I just know that our time here in my tenure and even prior to me, this has been a tough place for us to play,” Black said. “We just haven’t fared well here. I know that the Diamondbacks feel confident here. The years they’ve done very well they’ve always done very well at home.”

Luke Gregerson (2-0) struck out the only two batters he faced in the seventh to get the victory. Hernandez (1-2) took the loss.

Bookmark and Share

Yonder Alonso blasts Padres to victory over Snakes

Yonder Alonso went 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, a home run, two runs scored and two RBI during Tuesday's 9-5 victory against Arizona.
Alonso began San Diego's offensive explosion by taking fellow top prospect Trevor Bauer deep in the second inning to stake the Friars to a 2-0 lead. He continued to lead the offensive onslaught throughout the evening. Alonso desperately needed a big night. After a terrible opening month to the season and a solid bounce back in May, Alonso posted an abysmal .541 OPS in June and hadn't recorded a hit in July prior to Tuesday. He's probably not ownable in 12-14 team mixed leagues, but a batter of his talent is always worth monitoring.

Bookmark and Share

Marlins demote Gaby Sanchez to Triple-A New Orleans

Gaby Sanchez not only lost his starting job in Wednesday afternoon’s Carlos Lee deal. He was also stripped of his major league roster spot.

According to beat writer Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, the Marlins optioned Sanchez down to Triple-A New Orleans less than 20 minutes after their 7-6 extra-innings victory over the Brewers.

The 28-year-old first baseman has posted a brutal .202/.250/.306 batting line with just three home runs and 17 RBI in 196 plate apperances this season. It’s a slump that dates back to the middle of the 2011 campaign.

Lee is going to serve as Miami’s starter at first base going forward — likely through the end of 2012.

Sanchez will have to impress on the farm in order to climb back up and claim a bench job in the second half.

Bookmark and Share

Start or not, Ryan Braun honored to be an All-Star again

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' Ryan Braun is proud to be an All-Star, whether he starts the game in the outfield or on the bench.

Braun was not elected a starter by the fans for the first time in five years, but instead made the team via the player ballot as a National League reserve. He still could start if good buddy Matt Kemp's still-healing hamstring forces the Dodgers star to sit out, but Braun insisted that doesn't matter.

"One way or the other, it looks like I could have a pretty decent chance of getting in there," he said. "But when you're an All-Star, you're an All-Star. It's an extremely difficult thing to do. I was told earlier today that I've had as many All-Star appearances as anyone who's played for the Brewers, and that just puts in perspective how difficult it is. Look at all the great players who have played for this organization -- Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner, Gorman Thomas, Cecil Cooper -- all these guys who have played here and nobody's ever made more than five All-Star teams."
Braun, Cooper and Molitor share the club record with five All-Star nods.

Braun was in the running to be voted a starter in the final round of balloting results last week, but he was knocked out of the top three by Giants fans, who boosted Melky Cabrera all the way to the top of the list of NL outfielders, made catcher Buster Posey the top NL vote-getter, secured a start at third base for Pablo Sandoval and nearly pushed shortstop Brandon Crawford into the lineup.

Braun lauded that effort.

"Whoever is involved in the San Francisco election process needs to contact the Barack Obama re-election team, and maybe get ahold of Mitt Romney," Braun joked. "The surge in the polls was spectacular."

He wouldn't say whether Kemp, the captain of the NL Home Run Derby team, extended an invitation for that event. Kemp will swing for the fences alongside Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals and Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies.

"I enjoy watching the Derby, so I'm excited to watch those guys," Braun said.

But did Kemp ask?

"I'm just excited to watch," Braun said.

He only briefly addressed what his All-Star selection meant in light of an offseason spent fighting a 50-game suspension. He won an appeal, then returned to the field and put up first-half numbers nearly identical to those he posted last season on the way to the NL MVP Award.

In one category, Braun has been even better: He entered Monday with 22 home runs, tops in the NL.

"I said from the beginning of the year, the most important thing for me to do to move beyond everything was to have success on the field," Braun said. "That was the single most important thing I could do.

"But the goal is not have success for the first half, or the first few months. The goal is to be successful all year and for the next 10-12 years. I've started off headed in the right direction, and the goal is to continue to do those things."

Bookmark and Share

MORE PHOTOS: University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame 2012 Fishing Tournament

On the weekend of June 29th 2012 the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame hosted its 2nd Annual FishingTournament at the Postcard Inn in the Florida Keys featuring former Miami Hurricanes and many proCanes including: Warren Sapp, Damien Berry, Quadtrine Hill, Gerard Daphnis, KC Jones, Damione Lewis and many more! Over 50 boats competed to haul in the heaviest fish and a night of fun and partying ensued on the beach. Check out the photos below!












Click here to see more photos ------->

Jon Vilma complaint outlines all alleged flaws in bounty case

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma may have passed on the opportunity to prove his case for innocence in front of Commissioner Roger Goodell, but Vilma has unloaded in a 27-page, 180-paragraph civil complaint.

In Vilma’s new lawsuit against the NFL, a copy of which PFT has obtained, lawyer Peter Ginsberg details every alleged flaw in the case against Vilma, and to a certain extent the other players suspended for involvement in the Saints bounty program.

Heavy on factual contentions and light on legal theories, the lawsuit requests only two things:  (1) an order of “specific performance” requiring Goodell to rule on the bounty appeals; and (2) a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing the league from implementing the suspension against Vilma if the suspension is upheld.

Along the way, Ginsberg makes the following claims on behalf of Vilma:

1.  Vilma was willing to meet with Goodell before the one-year suspension was imposed, but Vilma wanted to review in advance the materials gathered by the league “‘which the NFL contend[ed] provided a basis to investigate Vilma.’”  In exchange, “Vilma offered to provide the NFL with complete ‘detail[] [of] Vilma’s knowledge regarding [the Bounty Program] allegations.”  The league declined to do so, so Vilma declined to meet with Goodell.

2.  Goodell issued a “gag order” on former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, preventing him from speaking to about about the investigation.

3.  Goodell made “personal conclusions and described possible discipline” of players in a March 21 press release, even though he had not disciplined any players and planned to eventually serve as the supposedly impartial arbitrator.

Ginsberg also outlines the alleged flaws in the investigation, focusing on the follwing:
1.  The refusal to make certain witnesses available at the June 18 appeal hearing;
2.  The failure to deliver the exhibits to be introduced at the June 18 appeal hearing within three days (i.e., 72 hours) of the start of the hearing;
3.  The production of only 16 exhibits consisting of 182 pages from a file that supposedly includes 18,000 total documents and 50,000 total pages;
4.  The failure to produce any notes taken during witness interviews;
5.  The failure to produce original documents;
6.  The refusal to produce any potentially exculpatory evidence;
7.  The reliance on documents generated after the discipline were imposed;
8.  The alleged mischaracterization of the Anthony Hargrove declaration;
9.  The alleged mischaracterization of the Anthony Hargrove video from the 2009 NFC title game;
10.  The alleged mischaracterization of the September 2011 Mike Ornstein email message regarding an alleged $5,000 bounty on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers;
11.  The failure to include the September 2011 Mike Ornstein email message in the evidence to be introduced at the appeal hearing;
12.  The alleged mischaracterization of the 2009 email message from Ornstein to Williams, which Vilma claims reflects a commitment by Ornstein to contribute money to Williams’ charitable organization (Ornstein allegedly explained this to Goodell, urging him to confirm it via the charity’s financial documents);
13.  Ornstein’s contradiction of the claim that he corroborated the allegation that Vilma placed a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre prior to the 2009 NFC title game;
14.  The failure to make Ornstein available to testify at the June 18 appeal hearing or to produce notes of his interview(s);
15.  The strong denial by Saints interim coach Joe Vitt that Vilma placed a bounty on Favre or anyone else;
16.  The failure of the league to disclose that Williams never acknowledged to the NFL the existence of a bounty program;
17.  The alleged problems with the ledger information apparently leaked to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports on June 1, 2012, and the failure of the league to introduce the ledger as evidence at the June 18 appeal hearing;
18.  The reliance upon the statements of Mike Cerullo, a disgruntled former Saints employee;
19.  The problems with the typewritten version of handwritten notes regarding the bounty on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, which Vilma contends were created “well after” the 2009 NFC title game;
20.  The failure to issue a ruling on the appeal by Monday June 25, 2012, one full week after appeal hearings at which Vilma offered no substantive defense.

It’s unknown whether Vilma will get a chance to prove all of these allegations, and whether his ability to do so will result in his suspension being overturned.  It’s clear, however, that “Phase Two” has begun — and that it could last a lot longer than Phase One.

Bookmark and Share

Michael Irvin warns rookies about keeping their old friends

Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin said at the NFL Rookie Symposium that young players who think they need to be loyal to their old friends need to understand something: Those friends won’t always be loyal to them.

Referencing the 1996 drug charges that led to a no-contest plea and a five-game suspension, Irvin mentioned that people who had been his friends testified against him.

“All my keepin’ it real partners testified against me. They ran right to the D.A., ‘Oh, yeah, Michael did it.’ They kept it real, ‘I’m staying out of jail. Michael did it,’” Irvin said.

Irvin mentioned another Symposium speaker, Michael Vick, and how his three longtime friends turned dogfighting co-defendants all pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him.

“Michael Vick stood up here and he told you,” Irvin told the rookies. “All his keep it real friends, they kept it real. They ran right to the police, ‘I’m keepin’ it real: He did it. He did it.’ All your keepin’ it real friends, I promise you, they’re going to keep it real on you.”

Irvin told the rookies at the symposium that they need to remember that they earned what they have in the NFL, and they don’t need to worry about, in Irvin’s words, “Somebody that didn’t put in the work that you put in, because he’s not determined enough, he doesn’t know how to get his butt up and doesn’t feel like getting his butt up and going to work.”

Irvin said he wanted to speak to the rookies because “When I came into the league I didn’t have anybody to tell me some things.” Irvin was ready for the on-field part of the NFL from Day One, but it took him many years and some painful lessons to be ready to conduct himself like a professional off the field. The lessons he learned the hard way are the ones he’s trying to impart on the rookies of today.

Bookmark and Share

Chris Perez expects to be booed at All-Star Game

Baltimore – Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and closer Chris Perez are going to Kansas City for the All-Star Game on July 10.

It's the second straight All-Star selection for each player and a sign they are establishing themselves among Major League Baseball's upper crust. One reminder for Perez, who has converted 23 straight saves: Bring earplugs.

Perez, a closer who speaks his mind, has ripped Indians fans, Browns fans and LeBron James haters in the first half. But he has saved a special place for the Kansas City Royals, who call Kauffman Stadium home.

“I'm prepared to get booed,” said Perez, who celebrated his 27th birthday Sunday. “I'm hoping there's a lot of national baseball fans at the game. Not just Kansas City fans.”

Perez was fined $850 by MLB for a Tweet earlier in the year after the benches cleared during an April 14 game between the two teams. Later, Perez – while ripping Indians fans for not attending games – used the Royals and Pirates as examples of franchises that never win.

On May 28, after hearing the Royals were upset and “were coming after me,” Perez struck out Jarrod Dyson in the ninth inning and waved his hand across his face, copying WWE wrestler John Cena's “You Can't See Me” sign.

“Chris isn’t on the All-Star team because of what he said,” said Tribe manager Manny Acta. “He’s been pretty darn good after Opening Day. Has there been anybody better? He’s an All-Star closer.”

Perez and Cabrera were selected as a result of a vote by Major League Baseball players.

Perez is 0-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 32 appearances. He has converted 23 saves in 24 chances with 32 strikeouts, seven walks and 19 hits in 32 innings. The opposition is hitting .209 against him.

The most recent Indians closer to be named to consecutive All-Star teams was Jose Mesa in 1995 and 1996.

“I have to give most credit to my bullpen mates,” said Perez. “Vinnie Pestano, for sure. I only get the opportunities he converts, and he’s been outstanding since last year.

“And my teammates overall. I only get as many opportunities as they give me.”

Perez received a $50,000 bonus for making the All-Star team. Cabrera received a $100,000 bonus.

Bookmark and Share

Ryan Braun just happy to be an all-star

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun showed no outward disappointment Monday in not being elected to the All-Star Game as a starter in fan balloting, instead making it as a reserve on the player ballots.

"You never get greedy," said Braun, speaking for the first time about being named to his fifth consecutive All-Star Game but missing out in the fan voting for the first time.

"Anytime you're going to an All-Star Game, it's a tremendous honor. It's always a lot of fun. It's amazing to have an opportunity to represent the Brewers organization, the city of Milwaukee. It's so hard to go to an All-Star Game so any time you get an opportunity to go, whether it's the final vote, voted in by the fans, the players, picked by the manager, whatever the circumstances or situation is, it's a tremendous honor."

No one will ever know how much Braun's turbulent winter, including a positive drug test and successful appeal of a 50-game suspension, hurt him in the fan voting. But Braun said making the team on his own merit via player voting was meaningful.

"It means something to me, regardless," he said. "It's definitely special. You always want to be recognized for the success you have on the field, for the work you put in off the field. Nobody's opinion is more relevant or important to me than my peers. So that's very meaningful to be voted in by them."

As for silencing any critics who didn't think he'd do well in 2012, Braun said, "I said at the beginning of the year that the most important thing for me to do to move beyond everything was to have success on the field. That was the single most important thing I could do. But the goal was not to have success for the first half or the first few months. The goal was to be successful all year and for the next 10 or 12 years. I've started off in the right direction."

In the final days of online voting for fans, San Francisco's Melky Cabrera surged to the lead among NL outfielders, with Matt Kemp falling to third and barely beating Braun for that spot. Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval and catcher Buster Posey also were voted in as starters.

"Whoever's involved in the San Francisco election process needs to contact the Barack Obama re-election team or maybe get hold of Mitt Romney or something because the surge in the polls was spectacular," said Braun. "Those San Francisco fans are incredible supportive. I just think they're excited. Their team is playing really well. A lot of times, individual accolades are a result of team success. And their team is playing great right now. Clearly, people there are fired up in supporting their team." 

Braun said he was surprised not to see teammate Zack Greinke selected but understood how tough the process can be, especially for pitchers.

"I felt like he certainly pitched well enough to be an all-star to this point," said Braun. "He's been great for us. There are a lot of really great pitchers in the National League right now. There were quite a few other guys who were deserving as well. Every year you're going to have guys who look like they should make the team who didn't. A lot of times those have a way of working themselves out. Hopefully, somebody pulls out or something happens and he finds a way to get there. He started his career there and I had a ton of success there and I think it would be special to find a way to get back there."

Braun still has a couple of chances to make the starting lineup. Should Kemp's lingering hamstring injury force him to withdraw, Braun would replace him by being the next outfielder on the players' ballot. The game also will include the use of a DH this year, opening another spot in the lineup.

"One way or the other, it looks like I could have a pretty decent chance of being in there," he said. "Either way, when you're an all-star, you're an all-star. It's an extremely difficult thing to do. I was told earlier today that I know have as many all-star appearances as anybody who's ever played for the Brewers. 

"That puts into perspective how difficult it is. You look at all the great players that have played for this organization and nobody has made more than five all-star teams. It shows you how difficult it is. It's something I would never take for granted, however I'm able to get there."

When asked if he had been asked by Kemp to be in the Home Run Derby but declined, Braun wouldn't bite, saying only, "I enjoy watching the Derby so I'm excited to watch those guys."

Bookmark and Share

Aubrey Huff Scheduled to Rehab at Municipal Stadium

SAN JOSE, CA - The San Francisco Giants have announced that first baseman Aubrey Huff is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment with the San Jose Giants on Wednesday, July 4 at Municipal Stadium. The Giants begin a six-game homestand against the Modesto Nuts and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes with first pitch on Wednesday set for 6:30 PM.

Huff, 35, is recovering from a sprained right knee injury sustained in mid-June. A member of San Francisco's 2010 World Championship team, Huff owns a lifetime batting average of .278 over 13 major league seasons. During the World Series, Huff batted .294 with four RBI's, two doubles and a home run.

Bookmark and Share

Ryan Braun has been steady force for Brewers

Colin McCarthy was a tackling machine for the Tennessee Titans with 7 tackles (6 solo), 1 tackle for loss, a pass deflection and a forced fumble.

For the Philadelphia Eagles Graig Cooper had 11 carries for 24 yards & 1TD & Sinorice Moss had 3 receptions for 49 yards & 3 punt returns for 38 yards.

Baltimore Raven Damien Berry had 8 carries for 31 yards and 1 TD, along with 2 receptions for 18 yards.

Giants DL Dwayne Hendricks had 5 tackles (4 solo) 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss and 1 QB hit. Great game as he is fighting for a roster spot.

Carolina Panther Jeremy Shockey had 2 catches for 19 yards & a TD vs the Pittsburgh Steelers where Baraka Atkins had 1 tackle.

Calais Campbell had 1 tackle for loss in limited action for the Arizona Cardinals.

Redskin Leonard Hankerson has 4 catches for 36 yards.

KC Chief Allen Bailey so far tonight has 1 tackle, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit. His sack was actually a safety for the Chiefs.

Minnesota Viking Ryan Hill led the Minnesota Vikings with 7 solo tackles.

Damione Lewis of the Houston Texans had 6 tackles (3 solo) and 1 tackle for loss while Brandon Harris had 2 tackles and Darryl Sharpton also added a tackle for the Texans.

49er Corey Nelms had a pass deflection.

Bookmark and Share

PHOTOS: University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame 2012 Fishing Tournament

On the weekend of June 29th 2012 the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame hosted its 2nd Annual FishingTournament at the Postcard Inn in the Florida Keys featuring former Miami Hurricanes and many proCanes including: Warren Sapp, Damien Berry, Quadtrine Hill, Gerard Daphnis, KC Jones, Damione Lewis and many more! Over 50 boats competed to haul in the heaviest fish and a night of fun and partying ensued on the beach. Check out the photos below!

Warren Sapp, KC Jones, Sebastian The Ibis
Warren Sapp
Quadtrine Hill, Harry Rothwell
Kenny Berry, Damine Berry



Click here to see more photos ----->>>>

Undrafted 'Little Fitzgerald' LaRon Byrd exhibits some of idol's skills

LaronByrd 2
LaRon Byrd had his share of offers to sign with NFL teams after he was bypassed in this year's draft. But there was only one that truly interested the wide receiver from the University of Miami.

It was the Cardinals.

Wait, the Cardinals? They already have a perennial Pro Bowl receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and just spent their first-round pick on another receiver, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.

There certainly isn't a dearth of depth at the position, either. The Cardinals have Andre Roberts and Early Doucet on the roster, plus a host of young backup receivers.

"Yeah, I know," said Byrd, who hails from Hahnville, La. "The real reason why I chose Arizona is actually because I idolized Larry Fitzgerald when I was in high school."

Back at Hahnville High, Byrd was considered one of the best wide receivers in Louisiana. People began calling him "Little Fitzgerald" during his junior season and not just because he had long dreadlocks like the real Fitzgerald.

Byrd has similar size -- he is 6 feet 4, 220 pounds -- and some of the same skills as Fitzgerald. It led to a scholarship to Miami, where he appeared in 51 games for the Hurricanes and finished his career with 106 receptions for 1,254 yards and seven touchdowns.

All the while, Byrd kept patterning his game after Fitzgerald, dreaming that one day he'd get a chance to play alongside him.

On the first day he reported to the Cardinals' training facility in Tempe, he finally met his idol, as Fitzgerald sat in on a team meeting for rookies.
Byrd was too nervous to tell Fiztgerald he was his biggest fan.

"I didn't want to sound like a groupie or come off like one of those wild, creepy fans," he said. "It's been on my mind to tell him, though. One day after it's all said and done, either after this season or, hey, after we win a Super Bowl, I'll tell him."

The two have already struck up a friendship. Fitzgerald has invited Byrd over to his house, and they've exchanged phone numbers.

"I know he's probably gotten a little aggravated at me at times because I'm like a little brother, always asking him questions, always picking his mind. But, hey, you've got a future Hall of Famer on your team -- why not try to learn as much as you can from one of the best?"

Byrd text messages Fitzgerald often, seeking tips and answers about certain pass routes or blocking scenarios.

"He's been great. I know he's a busy guy, but there's not one time I texted him where he didn't reply back," Byrd said. "He's never pushed me to the side, so I'm very appreciative of him. He has my utmost respect."

Byrd turned heads during the Cardinals' series of minicamps, making several impressive catches.

He reminded some observers of Fitzgerald with his jumping ability and sure-handedness.

The Cardinals have a recent history for keeping undrafted free-agent receivers on the roster beyond training camp.

Byrd hopes that trend continues with him, even if they just drafted Floyd to be their No. 2 wideout.

"I don't fear competition," he said. "Like my mom always said, 'the cream rises to the top,' and as long as I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and making plays, I know the coaches will recognize that.

"I'm a guy nobody knew about, but the way I look at it is the only thing different from a free agent and a first-round pick is the money. You still have to play football."

Byrd said he plans to treat training camp next month in Flagstaff as if it is "my whole season."

He hopes to duplicate his success at minicamp, keep turning heads, and keep asking questions -- especially of his idol, Fitzgerald.

Bookmark and Share

Judge Sapp: Money & Friends Don't Mix - Episode 3

Bookmark and Share

Kayne Farquharson Nebraska Danger 2012 Highlights

Bookmark and Share

Leonard Hankerson will excel with RG3, Redskins

Leonard Hankerson set for sophomore jump

High expectations have been heaped on Robert Griffin III, but most of the talent surrounding him on offense is unproven. In some cases, total unknowns. That alone should temper some of the hype.

The jury is out on Pierre Garcon as a No. 1 wideout, but the Redskins are sold, paying him $42.5 million over five seasons. For Garcon to produce, defenses must believe the rest of this receiving group poses some sort of a threat.

Santana Moss has an early jump on the No. 2 spot -- and we've heard whispers he could compete with Garcon for No. 1 -- but Washington is going to lean on second-year man Leonard Hankerson to build on the late-season work he produced as a rookie.

Before he was lost with a hip injury, Hankerson gained the confidence of the Redskins coaching staff through his performance in practice and two intriguing starts. In the second of those, we saw Hankerson tear up the Miami Dolphins with eight catches for 106 yards.

Hankerson has been mentioned as an option at the slot. This used to hint at less production, but Wes Welker and Victor Cruz prove inside receivers can change a team's fortunes. The Redskins aren't shifting away from Mike Shanahan's moving-pocket attack, but the coach acknowledged he'll shape the offense to fit RG3's unusual gifts.

Griffin was highly accurate at Baylor and used the weapons around him. All Redskins wideouts should see a boost with the rookie QB at the controls, but Hankerson, especially, could see his career altered by RG3's arrival. Hankerson's not a household name here in June, but riding Griffin's coattails could thrust him into the lights.

Bookmark and Share

Vernon Carey receiving interest

A few teams have poked around free agent offensive lineman Vernon Carey in recent weeks. The eight-year veteran, a longtime starter in Miami, remains unsigned. Carey will be 31 in July but started 15 games for the Dolphins in 2011, and clubs view him as a potential guard-tackle swingman at the right price.

Bookmark and Share

Santana Moss competing for No. 1 WR spot?

Washington Redskins WR Santana Moss has an early jump on the team's No. 2 wide receiver spot, and there also have been whispers he could compete with WR Pierre Garcon for the No. 1 role.

Bookmark and Share

NFL calls Vilma’s new suit “improper”

The league hadn’t responded to the Associated Press regarding Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s new Saturday-night’s-all-right-for-suing effort to overturn his suspension.  The league has since responded to the new lawsuit, via a statement emailed to PFT.

“We have not yet had an opportunity to review Mr. Vilma’s improper effort to litigate a matter that is committed to a collectively bargained process,” the league said, via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.  “There is no basis for asking a federal court to substitute its judgment for the procedures agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA, procedures that have been in place, and have served the game well, for decades.”

The league’s contention regarding the substitution of judgment is entirely accurate.  As we recently explained, courts won’t substitute their judgment for the judgment of a private arbitrator.

That said, it’s fair to attack the process as being unfair.  Under the Federal Arbitration Act, the four reasons for throwing out an arbitration award are:  (1) if the decision was “procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means”; (2) if there was “evident partiality or corruption by the arbitrator”; (3) if the arbitrator was “guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone a hearing, in refusing to hear evidence, or in misbehaving in some other way”; or (4) the arbitrator “exceeded his powers and imperfectly executed them.”  Though we’ve yet to actually see Vilma’s lawsuit or any briefs filed in support of efforts to block the suspension pending the outcome of the litigation, it’s likely that Vilma’s legal effort will be confined to those four factors.

And while the league may disagree regarding the application of those factors, it’s not improper for Vilma to assert his rights, if he believes in good faith that application of those factors requires the ruling on his suspension to be overturned, and if he has evidence that would support a conclusion that his belief if accurate.

Bookmark and Share

Calais Campbell Speaks to Kids at United Way's Youth Empowerment Summit

Bookmark and Share

Devin Hester Hosts Football Camp

Bookmark and Share

Chris Perez makes 2nd straight All-Star team

BALTIMORE, M.D. -- Indians closer Chris Perez was named to his second straight All-Star game Sunday. That's the good news.

The not so good news is that the All-Star game is July 10 at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.

"I'm prepared to get booed," said Perez, who celebrated his 27th birthday Sunday.

Perez, who has saved 23 straight games, was fined $850 by MLB for a Tweet earlier in the year after the benches cleared during a April 14 game between the two teams. Later Perez, while ripping Indians fans for not attending games, used the Royals and Pirates as an example of franchises that never win.

On May 28, after hearing the Royals were upset and "were coming after me,' Perez struck out Jarrod Dyson and waved his hand across his face, copying WEE wrestler John Cena's "You Can't See Me' sign.

In the second stop on this 10-game trip, Perez told the New York Times that he didn't understand Cleveland fans hatred of LeBron James and their blind loyalty to the Browns, while giving the Indians the cold shoulder. 

On the field, Perez has been the model of consistency. After blowing a save on Opening Day against the White Sox, he's been flawless.

"Chris isn't on the All-Star team because of what he said," said manager Manny Acta. "He's been pretty darn good after Opening Day. Has there been anybody better? He's an All-Star closer."

Perez is 0-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 31 appearances. He's converted 23 saves out of 24 chances. He's struck out 36, walked 13 and allowed 19 hits in 31 innings. The opposition is hitting .171 against him.

He earned a $50,000 bonus for his All-Star selection.

The last Indians closer to be named to consecutive All-Star teams was Jose Mesa in 1995 and 1996.

"I have to give most credit to my bullpen mates," said Perez. "Vinnie Pestano for sure. I only get the opportunities he converts, and he's been outstanding since last year.

"And my teammates overall. I only get as many opportunities as they give me."

Bookmark and Share

Ryan Braun an All-Star reserve, but may start for Kemp

MILWAUKEE -- It was a bittersweet Selection Sunday for the Brewers. On one hand, left fielder Ryan Braun tied a franchise record by making his fifth All-Star team. On the other hand, club officials had lobbied hard for Braun to win a spot in the National League's starting outfield, only to see him fall just short in fan balloting.

Instead, Braun made the cut via the player ballot, and was announced as the Brewers' lone All-Star Game representative on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.

Unless some teammates are added as injury replacements -- Zack Greinke was Milwaukee's most notable snub -- it would mark the first time since 2005 that the Brewers send fewer than three players to the Midsummer Classic.

The All-Star Game in Kansas City will air on FOX at 7 p.m. CT on July 10.

Braun finished fourth in fan balloting to fellow NL outfielders Melky Cabrera of the Giants, Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, coming in about 107,000 votes shy of Kemp. The top three vote-getters comprise the starting lineup.

But Kemp is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, and is not expected to be ready in time for the All-Star Game. If he withdraws, a Major League Baseball spokesperson said Braun would replace Kemp in the starting lineup by virtue of the player ballot, and NL manager Tony La Russa would select another player for the bench.

Braun finished third behind Beltran and Cabrera in the vote of Major League players, coaches and managers, just ahead of the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen.

And if Kemp makes a miraculous recovery and rejoins the Dodgers before the All-Star break, Braun still would have a shot at the starting lineup as a potential designated hitter. La Russa said Sunday that he was beginning to mull the lineup.

Even after a tumultuous winter that included the departure of free-agent slugger Prince Fielder, Braun has remained the same productive player.
Through the season's first 72 games, Braun was actually ahead of the pace set by his 2011 NL MVP self -- in batting average (.313 this year to .311 last year), home runs (22 to 15), RBIs (55 to 51) and slugging percentage (.611 to .562).

"He's as good as any of the players I've been around," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who delivered the news of Braun's All-Star selection on Sunday morning. "He can do so much. I've been around great hitters. I played with Mike Schmidt and Tony Gwynn, but Ryan's a little different from those guys because of the total game that he has.

"He's a great defender, he can steal bases, he hits for high average and then can hit home runs. There's not many of those guys around."

Braun declined to address his selection after Sunday's win over the D-backs in light of an incident earlier in the day in the bullpen, where a Brewers staff member collapsed and was administered CPR. The Brewers did not release any details about the man after the game.

"I think there are constant reminders in life that there are things that are far more important than this game that we play," Braun said.

By making his fifth All-Star team, Braun tied a franchise record shared by Cecil Cooper and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, each of whom made only one All-Star start in a Brewers uniform.

Braun's three All-Star Game starts (he sat out last year's game because of a leg injury) are already a Brewers record.

He is still seeking his first All-Star Game hit; Braun is 0-for-7 in his three previous starts.

His starring moment came in the field in 2009, when Braun made a diving fourth-inning catch to rob Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton of an extra-base hit. The play drew a big cheer from the sellout crowd at Angel Stadium, and helped the NL All-Stars preserve a 3-1 win.

Bookmark and Share

Jemile Weeks happy to be in the All-Star mix

Jemile Weeks was shown the vote totals for American League second basemen. He finished sixth.

For someone hitting .222 in his first full big-league season, Weeks was grateful he received 885,073 votes. Not quite close to Robinson Cano's 5,806,958 or Ian Kinsler's 4,967,247. But considering all circumstances, Weeks was perfectly OK with it.

"That's cool. Just to be in the mix is a good feeling," he said. "I feel I could've done a lot better. This season has been a good learning curve, just the understanding of dealing with the ups and downs. That's a big adjustment for me at this point. I'm not happy about it, but I'll be better down the road because of it. I'll continue to play strong, and good things will come for me."

Last year, Weeks batted .303 with a .340 on-base percentage and 22 steals in 97 games after being called up June 7.

"Coming out of the gate, it was a little different for me," he said. "I didn't get those confidence hits that dropped if you hit it hard or soft. It's been a grind. Now I know how to cope with it, and throughout the rest of the season, it'll be a little bit more of my style of baseball."

Yoenis Céspedes finished 14th among outfielders, Josh Reddick 18th. At all other positions, the top eight were made public, and Weeks was the only A's player ranked.

What about moving up in the fan voting next year?

"Just wait," he said, smiling. "That's all I've got to say."

Bookmark and Share

Yasmani Grandal makes history with homers in first start

DENVER -- Yasmani Grandal, called up Saturday afternoon from Triple-A Tucscon, made his first career start one for the ages.

Grandal, a 23-year-old rookie acquired by the Padres from the Reds this past offseason, is the first player in MLB history to have his first two career hits as homers from opposite sides of the plate in the same game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Grandal is the sixth player since 1974 with a multi-homer game in his first big league start, also according to Elias. He is the fourth player in Padres history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game, and the ninth to homer for his first Major League hit.

It all adds up to a night Grandal will never forget, and it was all the better with the Padres beating the Rockies, 8-4.

"I can't describe how remarkable it is," Grandal said.

The Padres are still looking for the second homer Grandal launched into the left-field seats in the sixth inning, but when they find it they expect the Hall of Fame to make a request.

"I'll give them whatever they ask for," Grandal said.

And if they choose another memento, like his bat, Grandal has a good idea as to where the balls will go.

"Yeah, that's gonna be up there in my trophy case," he said.

It was a slightly ominous sign that gave Grandal reason to believe he was locked in, and one that would put most players in pain.

"The first pitch of the game, the ball popped off my foot," he said. "I had never done that from the left side, but I knew then that my swing would be good. And sure enough ..."

Bookmark and Share

Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan says Valencia's future is 'up to Danny'

Danny Valencia is working hard at Class AAA Rochester, Twins general manager Terry Ryan says, adding, "That's a good thing." Right now, though, working hard isn't enough to get him back to the big leagues.

Though he won the third base job as a rookie, and led the team in RBIs in his first full season, Valencia has all but fallen off the big league club's radar since his demotion to the Red Wings on May 9.

Since reporting to Rochester manager Gene Glynn, Valencia is batting .237 with four homers, 11 doubles and 22 RBIs in 45 games through Thursday, June 28. He also had drawn only 10 walks and had an on-base percentage of .279.

"If we felt comfortable bringing him back, we would," Ryan said Friday. "He's not ready."

Valencia hit .311 in 85 games as a rookie and won the starting job out of camp in 2011. The average dipped to .246, but he led the Twins in games played (154) and RBIs (72) and was given the starting job out of camp this spring. But after batting .190 with one homer, 11 RBIs and 23 strikeouts in 27 games, the Twins sent him back to Rochester for a tuneup.

Since then, Trevor Plouffe has taken the third base job and run with it, hitting .275 with 14 homers and 25 RBIs in 38 games, though he also has fanned 38 times. Asked if Plouffe's future is at third base, Ryan said: "It depends on how much he hits. It depends on what Valencia does. We aren't overcrowded with too many good players."

Valencia declined a recent request for an interview. In his past 10 games, he's batting .231 with two homers, three walks, eight strikeouts and six RBIs.

"It's up to Danny, I'm going to tell you that," Ryan said. "It's not up to me and it's not up to Gene (Glynn) and it's not up to Gardy. It's up to Danny. Go ahead and do some things down there that push our hand and say, 'We need to make room for him.' "

Bookmark and Share

The underappreciated Jon Jay

When the name "St. Louis Cardinals" gets thrown around on a national landscape the first names to pop into the conversation are Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, etc.

And, quite frankly, rightfully so.  They've got track records of performing at the highest levels for an extended period of time.

But one name you will almost never hear associated with the core of this team is Jon Jay.  He'll never be considered the Cardinals' best player.  He'll never make $15 million a year like those other guys mentioned above.

What he will do, however, is continue to do everything that helps the Cardinals win baseball games.  I'm not sure there is a more underappreciated or underrated player on the club today.

In 857 career at-bats, Jay has a .303 batting average and .355 on-base percentage.  Those are very good numbers by anyone's guage.  But the thing that makes Jay, to me anyway, is how he's consistently getting better.

How many times do you see supremely talented players come up to the big leagues and have most of their success right away.  But they don't build on it.  Colby Rasmus come to mind?

Jon Jay, as good as he's been, is still improving as an all-around player.  Defensively he's become the unquestioned quarterback of the outfield...making key catches all over while directing traffic among his fellow defenders.

Offensively, he's making similar strides.  Jay's .339/.392/.426 line represents marked improvement over 2010 and 2011.  He's an outstanding contact hitter that does not strike out very much.  He's a line drive kind of guy who can beat you with power if you make a mistake over the heart of the plate.  And he's starting to take a few more walks which will raise that OBP even more.

It's not a complete surprise Jay's absence from the lineup with an injured shoulder coincided with the offense's downturn.  Sure there were other factors involved there inluding injuries to other players while the healthy ones didn't perform as needed.  But Jay's return also coincided with the offense's recent explosion against Kansas City.

Is it all Jon Jay that's responsible for the ebb and flow of this offense?  Not a chance.  Is he an often overlooked piece that has more to do with it than many realize?  I believe the answer to that is yes.

He's not the best player on the Cardinals...but he's awfully important to their success.

Bookmark and Share