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Simmons points to Caribbean series as key for Afghanistans

first_imgGREATER NOIDA, India (CMC) – Discarded West Indies coach Phil Simmons believes Afghanistan’s one-day series against West Indies in the Caribbean later this year, will serve as a great opportunity for the fledgling side to begin to make strides in international cricket.An associate member of the International Cricket Council, Afghanistan will be playing their first-ever bilateral ODI series against a major international full member when they take on West Indies in May/June.Simmons, hired recently by the Afghanistan Cricket Board to prepare the squad, said at this stage the aim was to be competitive and make inroads.“I like to be realistic. I don’t think the BCCI (Indian Cricket Board) or the Cricket Australia would be really interested in hosting them for a series at this moment,” said Simmons, who was sacked by the West Indies Cricket Board last September.“The important thing would be to remain competitive at this level, and when that happens you are bound to get your chance against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I think the upcoming series in the Caribbean in May is a step in that direction.”In Simmons’ first series in charge last month, the Afghans beat Zimbabwe 3-2 in a five-match series in Harare, a tour the Trinidadian believes his side should have won more convincingly.And with upcoming series against West Indies and Ireland, Simmons believes his job is to get Afghanistan to take the next step.“These guys were good against the Zimbabweans,” he noted.“But if you look at their performances in the World T20 last year, they came close to winning on a number of occasions, but could not seal the deal. My job as the coach would be to help them through.”Afghanistan is ranked 10th in the ICC one-day rankings – ironically one place behind two-time former World champions West Indies – with Zimbabwe 11th and Ireland 12th.Though the assignment is a short-term one, Simmons hopes he can use his experience to help the Asian side get the most out of the next few series.“I was the Ireland coach for a considerable amount of time, and since Afghanistan are scheduled to play two series against them, they have sought my experience, which is fair, I think,” he said.“They have hired me for just three series. This series against Ireland, followed by another five-match ODI series against West Indies in the Caribbean in May, followed by a return series in Ireland in July. That’s what I am looking at currently.”Afghanistan were good enough to beat West Indies in the preliminary round of last year Twenty20 World Cup in India.last_img read more

La Liga Consider Legal Action over New El Classico Date

first_imgLa Liga is considering legal action after the postponed El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid was rescheduled for 18 December by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).The match was set for 12:00 BST on Saturday in Barcelona but was postponed at La Liga’s request due to fears of civil unrest.There was a week of protests in Barcelona after nine Catalan separatist leaders were jailed earlier this month but La Liga had proposed 4th December. Both clubs put forward Wednesday, 18th December after being asked to agree on a new date by RFEF’s competitions committee, who signed off the decision on Wednesday.The first round of the Copa del Rey is set to take place on the same date.“La Liga doesn’t agree with the competition committee’s decision to stipulate 18 December – after an agreement was reached between Barcelona and Real Madrid, despite La Liga’s objections – as the date in which the postponed Clasico should be played,” La Liga said in a statement.“We are studying the documentation that we have recently received regarding the process in which the decision was taken.“This is in order to evaluate taking possible legal action and against whom it should be tabled, before the relevant and opportune public organisations or legal organisms.”Barcelona and Real Madrid disagreed with La Liga’s earlier call to switch the game to Madrid.Catalonia is a semi-autonomous region in north-east Spain and in a referendum on 1 October 2017, declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court, around 90% of Catalan votes cast backed independence. Turnout was 43%.The nine separatist leaders were convicted of sedition over their role in the referendum and handed jail sentences of between nine and 13 years by Spain’s Supreme Court.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Syracuse looks to jump out to early lead against Army to avoid losing streak

first_imgSeason-opening wins have become an expectation for Syracuse.The Orange had won its last 16 openers heading into Sunday’s contest against Albany, including a 12-7 victory over the Great Danes last season.But this year, SU failed to meet that expectation. Albany stunned Syracuse 16-15 in double overtime, putting the Orange into unfamiliar territory. No. 18 Syracuse (0-1) will look to get off to a quicker start against Army (2-1) this Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Carrier Dome and pick up its first win of the season.Despite a scintillating second-half surge led by Chris Daddio, Dylan Donahue and JoJo Marasco, SU came up a bit short against Albany.“We got off to a slow start,” Daddio said. “When we started coming back in the game, we got all excited and everyone was getting riled up. It was more upsetting than anything because we were back in the game.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse was down 13-9 with three minutes to go in the third quarter. A comeback was far from imminent. Then, everything started to click. The Orange outscored the Great Danes 6-2 the rest of the way in regulation.“It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been a part of,” Daddio said. “It was crazy. Just being down four or five goals and then coming back … it was just fun to be a part of.”But then Syracuse regressed to its level of play from earlier in the game. Missed shots and turnovers haunted the Orange. Marasco and Daddio dictated the tempo in both overtime periods, but SU couldn’t capitalize.In the first overtime, Syracuse attempted five shots while Albany didn’t take any, but SU couldn’t convert and climb out of the deep hole it dug itself earlier in the contest.Daddio played his part. The junior controlled 20-of-33 faceoffs, including one at the start of overtime. A season ago, Syracuse often failed to earn possession, which put them at an immediate disadvantage.Sunday, though, facing off wasn’t an issue at all. Instead, it was one of the few bright spots for a team that looked sluggish and slow to react.In overtime, Daddio won the faceoff and put his team in position to notch the game-winner, and steal a game it had no right to win.“The first thing I said to the guys in the huddle was, ‘Hey, I’ve been getting you guys the ball, and I’m going to get it to you one more time. Just make sure you put it in the net,’” Daddio said.But his teammates couldn’t capitalize. After coming up short against a team it’s grown accustomed to beating, the Orange was nearly silent in the locker room, Daddio said. Players sat with their heads down, going through the motions and not wanting to acknowledge what just hit them.“We had a lot of chances,” redshirt freshman Donahue said. “I think it was five shots, or something like that. You just thought one of them was going in. We didn’t question what we were doing, we just thought one would go in.”With No. 6 Virginia on the horizon, SU’s matchup against Army this weekend is even more important. Syracuse cannot afford to get off to such a slow start.Donahue said the team’s approach will not change heading into the Army game, despite the opening loss. The players have looked at film with the goal of sharpening their individual games. While the loss served as a buzzkill to a team with high preseason expectations, Donahue said the best thing to do at this point is to put that loss behind them and move on to the Black Knights.“We were all pretty bummed about it. It was a tough loss,” Donahue said. “I thought we played OK. We’re just going to keep getting better and we’ve got to improve upon what we’re doing.”SU head coach John Desko knows his team will need to get off to a hotter start and finish more crisply against a well-coached, polished Army squad. Losing the first game can happen, but 0-2 is simply unheard of.“We put ourselves in the hole, which we didn’t want to be,” Desko said, “but we fought back a couple times, tied it up and had plenty of opportunities to win the game.” Comments Published on February 21, 2013 at 2:00 am Contact Trevor: tbhass@syr.edu | @TrevorHass Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Opponent preview: What to know about No. 19 Hobart

first_img Published on February 27, 2020 at 6:10 pm Contact Arabdho: armajumd@syr.edu | @aromajumder Less than a week after No. 3 Syracuse (3-0) edged past Army in the Carrier Dome, the Orange host one of eight other undefeated Division I teams in the country, No. 19 Hobart (3-0), to play for the Kraus-Simmons trophy. The last time the Statesmen hoisted the trophy was in 2013. SU has a chance to start 4-0 for the first time since 2016, the last year it won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Here’s what to know about Friday’s 7 p.m. matchup. Last time they played: SU played Hobart at the start of April last season sandwiched between two games against ranked opponents. The Orange had just lost, 13-10, at then-No. 12 Notre Dame and their tournament chances were being threatened. Eric Holden scored his 29th goal of the season to level the scores at five midway through the second quarter. Syracuse wouldn’t give up a goal again. Twelve-straight goals gave the Orange their sixth win of the year and began a four-game winning streak to end the season, including two top-20 wins. Jacob Buttermore and Bradley Voigt had hat tricks in the game last year with Stephen Rehfuss earning a game-high five points. Derrek Madonna and Eric Holden both had three points in the game and returned to Hobart this season. All-time series: Syracuse leads, 77-26-2The Hobart report: Hobart loves to push the pace and that’s why it’s scoring an NCAA-leading 23 goals per game right now. SU close defender Grant Murphy said in film, the Orange noticed that the Statesmen will sometimes attack defenses even without a numbers advantage, unlike most teams that wait to set up. Hobart also has a free-wheeling set without many designed plays. And with Syracuse missing two-time All-American Nick Mellen, the one-on-one matchups against less experienced SU close defenders could be exploited. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textDefensively, the Statesmen play similar to Army in that they’ll pressure all around the defensive zone and look to space the Orange out. This also means that the second slide will likely be late or not there at all in most situations. Against the only common opponent the two teams had, Hobart beat Colgate 21-13, limiting the Raiders to one less goal than SU did and scoring the same amount.  How Syracuse beats Hobart: Limiting transition will be key for the Orange against Hobart. Murphy, who will likely start in place of Mellen, said that’s something SU has struggled with so far this season, and it could be costly for Syracuse against the Statesmen. The game will likely be fast-paced, slightly favoring the Orange with their group of playmakers on offense as well as speedy two-way midfielders like Peter Dearth and Dami Oladunmoye. Unlike last week, SU can’t afford to start slow on offense against a high-powered Statesmen attack. Look for the midfielders to be the main points of attack again, especially Jamie Trimboli with space in the middle. There could also be less wing-dodging again in this game and more of the top-down approach from last year which was also seen more against the Black Knights. Stat to know: 37.9% — Hobart’s shooting percentage. The Statesmen shoot a lot (182 shots), and their conversion rate is fourth in the nation. Syracuse by comparison is shooting at 28.1% this season.  Player to watch: Eric Holden, attack, No. 5A senior that’s coming off a 67-point year, Holden has started 2020 hot by mainly patrolling the left wing for Hobart. He has 20 points through three games and sits fourth in the nation for points per game. He’s only 0.08 off North Carolina’s 2019 Tewaaraton nominee Chris Gray in that stat. Holden is second on his team in goals and tied for first in assists this year. His shooting percentage is his most impressive stat, sitting at 56%. Only one Orange player, Jamie Trimboli, is above 50% shooting this year. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Rockies beat Giants 7-6, match best start in team history

first_img Associated Press Television News First Published: 4th August, 2020 09:24 IST LIVE TV COMMENT SUBSCRIBE TO US Written Bycenter_img Nolan Arenado hit his first homer of the season to ignite a five-run sixth inning and the Colorado Rockies matched their best start in franchise history by holding on for a 7-6 win over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.The Rockies are 7-2 for the fifth time in team history. They also had that mark in 1995, ’97, 2011 and ’15.It was a nerve-wracking ninth for the Rockies as the Giants scored two runs before newly appointed closer Jairo Diaz got the final out to earn his second save. He’s stepping in for Wade Davis, who went on the injured list with a strained right shoulder.Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, Arenado lined a two-run homer to left off Johnny Cueto. The breakout inning also included an RBI single from Matt Kemp and a go-ahead single from David Dahl that also brought in another run on right fielder Alex Dickerson’s errant throw.Chris Owings added a much-needed insurance run with a solo homer in the eighth to make it 7-4.Jeff Hoffman (1-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win.Mike Yastrzemski, Chadwick Tromp and Dickerson went deep for the Giants, who started a season-long 10-game trip.Cueto needed 29 pitches to escape the opening inning, but limited the damage to just an RBI single by Daniel Murphy. He settled into a groove before struggling in the sixth. Wandy Peralta (1-1) took the loss in relief after allowing three runs, two earned.Rockies starter Chi Chi Gonzalez lasted three innings, allowing three runs, in his season debut. It was a rare off outing by a Rockies starter. The group entered the day with a league-leading 2.00 ERA.Arenado flew around the bases after his homer as his teammates applauded. Arenado and manager Bud Black air fist-bumped near the dugout steps.It was the 228th homer of Arenado’s career, moving him past Carlos González and into fourth place on the team’s all-time list.Ryan McMahon had a triple in the pivotal sixth that bounced off the glove of Dickerson. McMahon was brought home on Kemp’s RBI single. It was a tough inning for Dickerson, who fielded Dahl’s single and threw wide of everyone, allowing Owings to score.EXTRA WORKArenado took early batting practice Monday in an effort to break out of his funk. The homer was his first extra-base hit of the season. Arenado hit 41 homers last season.“There are a lot of pitchers that are going to have to pay for this,” Black said of Arenado’s slump. “It can happen with one swing, that confidence.”THIRTY SOMETHINGCount Giants manager Gabe Kapler as thankful he has a 30-man roster for at least three of four games at Coors Field, which has been known to take a toll on a pitching staff. The rosters are tentatively scheduled to shrink to 28 on Thursday.“Right now, especially at Coors, it’s nice to have that added cushion, that extra pitching,” Kapler said.ROSTER MOVESThe Giants recalled lefty Andrew Suarez from their alternate training site. They optioned right-hander Andrew Triggs, who will be on the major league taxi squad.TRAINER’S ROOMRockies: Reliever Scott Oberg (blood clots) will remain in Denver to be looked at by specialists. “This is going to take a while to go through check lists, go through tests, go through a lot of different things to find out why this happened,” manager Bud Black said.UP NEXTRockies ace Germán Márquez (1-1, 1.54) makes his first home start of the season Tuesday against San Francisco. He’s 18-11 with a 5.01 ERA in his career at Coors Field. The Giants have yet to announce a starter.Image credits: AP FOLLOW US WATCH US LIVE Last Updated: 4th August, 2020 09:24 IST Rockies Beat Giants 7-6, Match Best Start In Team History Nolan Arenado hit his first homer of the season to ignite a five-run sixth inning and the Colorado Rockies matched their best start in franchise history by holding on for a 7-6 win over the San Francisco Giants on Monday nightlast_img read more

bookies.com relaunches aiming to become US betting’s ‘top authority’

first_img Gambling.com strengthens US presence with Indiana launch December 19, 2019 Related Articles StumbleUpon Share Share Gambling.com maintains momentum against COVID-19 impacts August 19, 2020 Submit Gambling.com launches SlotSource.com July 30, 2020 Charles Gillespie – bookies.comIndustry affiliate marketing publisher Gambling.com Plc (formerly Kax Media) has announced the relaunch of its bookies.com property as a new US-focused sports betting entity.Gambling.com informs that it has redeveloped and revamped the acquired legacy sports betting reviews and information portal with the aim of becoming the US market’s ‘most authoritative and comprehensive destination for legal and licensed sportsbooks’.Relaunching bookies.com, Charles Gillespie Group Chief Executive at Gambling.com Plc, details that the affiliate stakeholders should be eager to perform the vital task of informing US consumers on their legal and safe gambling options.“In complete contrast to the United Kingdom, the American sports betting market is today dominated by offshore operators who continue to illicitly serve US consumers” Gillespie details“Affiliates have a much more important role to play in the US market, that of educating the consumer about which operators are actually legal and which are not. We are happy to take the lead on this education effort,“At present, ten US states have approved legislation for sports betting, with vastly contrasting policies on services and provisions. Of those ten, four have elected to allow digital and mobile sports betting components.bookies.com represents Gambling.com’s first US strategic property, seeking to secure early traction as a trusted information source within the radically changed US gambling market.“The Group aims to capitalize on the tremendous momentum behind the expansion and regulation of sports betting in the United States with bookies.com and its other websites.The Group expects many more states to consider sports betting regulation in 2019 and for there to be an increasing focus on allowing mobile sports betting, due to the impressive mobile figures coming out of the New Jersey market and disappointing figures coming out of states which did not initially allow for mobile wagering.” Gambling.com details to investors.last_img read more

iovation report warns of prioritising SCA on inbound PSD2 directives

first_img EU research agency demands urgent action on loot box consumer safeguards July 29, 2020 StumbleUpon Share Share EGBA backs EU regulators demand for highest industry standards March 31, 2020 Submit Germany moves forward by presenting unloved framework to EU courts May 20, 2020 Related Articles Mark Weston – iovationiovation, the TransUnion owned fraud prevention and authentication solutions provider has published a critical report developed in partnership with consumer research advisory Aite Group titled “PSD2: Advent of the new payments market in Europe.” The report incorporates original research and analyses on the consequences for the global online payments and its wider stakeholders on the revised provisions of the European Union Payment Services Directive (PSD2). By September 2019 payment service providers in the European Economic Area (EEA) have to comply with the directive’s requirements for ‘strong customer authentication’ (SCA) and third-party access to bank accounts or risk getting their payment provider license revoked.Referring to a recent study by Mastercard, it was discovered that only 25 percent of European online merchants are aware of SCA requirements under PSD2. Since companies providing payment services in the EEA are subject to the regulation, businesses with headquarters outside Europe may also need to comply. “The zeitgeist of regulations with extra-territorial effect like GDPR continues with PSD2. This will have long-standing operational implications to companies wherever they are based,” said iovation Compliance Manager, Mark Weston. The report concludes the stricter requirements for fraud prevention in the EU will drive fraud to other regions such as the US – it also warns that most companies are unprepared for PSD2. Weston continued: “The merchants that succeed post PSD2 will be those that make consumer authentication as effortless as possible through methods like ‘invisible’ device-based authentication and biometrics. And with the likes of Facebook and Google becoming payment processors, merchants are going to have to compete with an ever-widening marketplace.”last_img read more

Fast Track hires Dan Morrison as commercial lead

first_img Fast Track has announced that Dan Morrison is joining the team as Commercial Director to spearhead the player engagement platform provider’s ambitious growth plans. Fast Track has experienced significant success since launching its player engagement platform in 2019. The team has grown from 18 to 30 people over the last 18 months. The company is now making the transition from successful start-up to efficient enterprise, with Morrison expected to play a key role.Morrison has extensive experience in the iGaming sector. After founding ConversionBet, an acquisition and conversion platform for iGaming operators, he became Managing Director for iConvert. He has also held a senior commercial role at SaleCycle.Morrison said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed as Commercial Director at a very exciting time for Fast Track and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to make a greater impact on the business and the wider gaming industry.“I’m enjoying being part of a progressive and dynamic company with ambitious and extremely talented employees, who are all keen to continue delivering the most powerful player engagement platform to our existing partners as well as developing relationships with new ones.” Simon Lidzen, Co-founder and CEO of Fast Track, added: “I am pleased to welcome Dan to the team. It was an obvious move for us given his previous success in launching two iGaming player acquisition companies. He will play an instrumental role in defining our commercial strategy as we move away from our start-up roots and continue to expand our client base.” Simon Lidzén: Fast Track – Reshaping CRM as a responsibility discipline July 9, 2019 Share Submit Related Articles Fast Track’s Dan Morrison: Why now is the time to digitalise player engagement June 30, 2020 StumbleUpon EveryMatrix boosts engagement with Fast Track integration June 11, 2020 Sharelast_img read more

A major-league baseball vs. a Triple-A ball: Can players tell the difference?

first_imgMinor League Baseball announced recently that both Triple-A leagues would use baseballs manufactured to major-league specifications in 2019. The minor league balls were previously manufactured at Rawlings’ plant in China. Rawlings makes its major league balls in Costa Rica, where the league announced in May that it would be scrutinizing the manufacturing process more closely.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Other than the stamp on their covers, the PCL and MLB baseballs should be the same next year. I was curious to know how much of a difference that would make.Fortunately, I had the raw materials to conduct an experiment. With a willing group of test subjects in the Angels’ clubhouse, I set out to answer a simple question: Could a baseball player close his eyes, hold a PCL ball in one hand, an MLB ball in the other, and tell which one is which?For the most part, the answer was yes. How the experiment unfolded was more interesting than the actual results.Pitcher Jose Alvarez needed about three seconds to determine the correct answer. Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter “It feels smaller,” he said of the major league ball. “You can feel more of the seams.”Catcher Francisco Arcia produced the correct answer in two seconds. He was tipped off by the same clue as Alvarez: the seams. To the naked eye, anyone could see the red laces lay flatter but wider against the PCL ball’s seams. Major league laces looked thinner but protruded more from the surface of the ball. Baseball players didn’t even need the naked eye to know the difference.Outfielder Kole Calhoun, who has played 10 minor league rehab games in the last five years, aced the test too. The players were 3 for 3.Then came outfielder Jabari Blash. He needed more time than his teammates. Blash switched the balls between his hands before producing an answer – and got it wrong.“What!” he exclaimed, opening his eyes to the embarrassing truth.Blash has played 83 games in the PCL this season and 22 in the majors. He clearly didn’t want to be the only Angel to fail the test, and suddenly I had a research assistant.“Kaleb, I got something for you,” Blash said to teammate Kaleb Cowart. “Close your eyes and put your hands out.”Cowart obliged. Blash handed him the baseballs. Fifteen seconds later, Cowart had the correct answer.“Awwww,” Blash said.“It’s softer,” Cowart said of the PCL ball. “It’s guaranteed softer – to me. The seams are a little bit softer, too. That one (the MLB ball) just feels rock hard. I’ve played a long time in the PCL so I know.”Rookie third baseman Taylor Ward got it right too. Simmons, who hasn’t touched a minor league ball since a 2016 rehab assignment, got it wrong on his first try. He re-took the test for his own satisfaction, but at least now Blash had a partner in embarrassment.Rookie outfielder Michael Hermosillo passed the test without hesitation.“The first time I picked up (an MLB ball) I couldn’t grip it,” he said. “The big league ball’s way slicker.”Eric Young Jr. passed the test. Justin Upton – who’s played 15 PCL games in his life, none in the last 10 years – did not. Rookie Sherman Johnson got it right the first time, wrong the second time (a thorough research assistant, Blash made him try it again) and correct the third.“The ball moves up here more,” Johnson said. “Even as an infielder, I couldn’t control it.”Pitcher Tyler Skaggs needed three seconds to pass the test. Noe Ramirez needed 10. Finally, I found two pitchers who failed: Andrew Heaney and Taylor Cole. Of the 14 participants in the experiment, nine produced the correct answer.Before I could tally the results, a funny thing happened. A roundtable discussion broke out among a group of pitchers in one corner of the clubhouse: Heaney, Cole, Ramirez and Deck McGuire. Each had already formed anecdotal observations about the differences between the two balls, and what it meant for their craft on a practical level. Now they had direct evidence of the differences staring them in the face.In the majors, Cole said, “I just feel like my stuff’s better, to be honest. My stuff’s sharper.”Cole, a 29-year-old rookie, has a 2.94 ERA in 17 games as an Angel. He had a 5.37 ERA in the PCL. He never mentioned getting better movement with a major league ball, or a better grip, and I never thought to ask.“It’s not like you can pick it up and throw it,” Cole said. “It took me a while to get used to it.”McGuire, a journeyman who debuted last year at age 28, said he’d heard about the baseballs being different before experiencing it for himself. The first time he was invited to major league spring training, McGuire wanted a fresh box of balls so he could get acclimated before camp opened. Having never bought major league baseballs on his own, McGuire didn’t realize how expensive they were – “it was like $150!” he said – and ultimately decided to pass.Related Articles Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone ANAHEIM — Andrelton Simmons leaned into the black reclining chair at his locker in the Angels’ clubhouse, his eyes closed. Beneath his seat, Simmons bounced a baseball off the floor, from his left hand to his right hand, back and forth, over and over. The shortstop was steeped in trance-like concentration as he studied the sensation of the ball’s leather surface against his fingertips. This was a test.“I feel like it’s a BP ball,” Simmons said. “The seams are higher. Where did you get this?”Batting practice, I confessed.It was October 2017. Dodger Stadium. While the players took BP, a ball rolled to my feet in foul territory as if drawn by magnetic force. I picked it up and scanned my surroundings. No one seemed to be looking for a baseball, so I pocketed my pillage. A month later I received an official Pacific Coast League baseball (by request) in the mail. The two balls gathered dust for the better part of a year, their fate undetermined. Angels fail to take series in Oakland, lose in 10 innings center_img Angels manager Joe Maddon questions defensive metrics that rate Mike Trout poorly The impromptu committee concluded that switching to major league balls would ultimately favor the Triple-A hitters.“Those games will never end,” one pitcher quipped.That would be a big difference indeed.Minor League Baseball already introduced rules designed to speed up games this year, notably a runner on second base to begin every extra inning. Maybe those rules will be more useful than anticipated. Maybe the adjustment from Double-A to Triple-A will become a bigger leap for pitchers than their first promotion to the majors. And maybe MLB can oversee Rawlings’ plant in China with the same scrutiny it recently introduced in Costa Rica.After all, shouldn’t that little white sphere be the same piece of equipment no matter where baseball is played? Should players really be able to notice a difference? How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Pac-10 complex still exists

first_imgFor a conference that has easily won the most men’s NCAA basketball tournaments in the land, it has a strange chip on its shoulder. Feels neglected, unappreciated, seriously overlooked. This has a little something to do with that old Naismithian philosophy of, “What have you done for me lately?” For all its NCAA muscle, thePac-10 has won exactly twoNCAA titles in the past 31years. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Southeastern Conference became all the rage. Got most of the championships, the attention, the TV rankings, and of course, tournament invites. This season people were actually talking up the Pac-10 – particularly those in the Pac-10. Seven different teams took turns in the Associated Press Top 25. UCLA was ranked near the top all season. It was absolutely back. Bigger than Rachel Ray, big enough to have its own designer fragrance. Only as the season progressed, the national enthusiasm seemed to wane. Old habits called. First it was viewed as the top conference, then up there with the ACC and now & where? OK, Pac-10, it’s your turn now. Right? Isn’t it? Doesn’t it just have to be? center_img “Early in the season everyone was saying we were the No. 1 conference in the country,” Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. “Then the closer we got to March, the Pac-10 started slipping again. “I don’t know why. Nothing has changed. I know we’re not a conference televised by ESPN. Now on ESPN Game Day, (commentator) Jay Bilas is talking about us being the fourth- or fifth-best conference. And it’s still the toughest, or the second toughest, conference in the country.” But Pac-10 teams have spent the better part of the past three months beating the living snot out each other, and now the AP Top 25 shows only three surviving conference teams – No. 4 UCLA, No. 11 Washington State and No. 16 Oregon. This, despite continued claims by wishful conference coaches that at least six teams will advance into the NCAA Tournament. Honest. It will happen, and no finger-crossing. “It’s a lock, regardless of what happens in the Pac-10 Tournament,” UCLA’s Ben Howland said. It’s best to skeptical here. Six Pac-10 teams have been invited to March Madness only once, in 2002. Five have been invited only four times. Only three received the call in 2004. The past two years, four teams were invited. At no time has seven teams advanced. The Pac-10 Tournament starts today at Staples Center and it figures to be fateful for several teams. Let’s assume UCLA (26-4), Washington State (24-6), Oregon (23-7) and Arizona (20-9) are locks for the NCAA Tournament, and likely so is USC (21-10), although if it falls to Stanford on Thursday night, that’s three consecutive losses and not doing anything for its NCAA r sum . Conference coaches all talk like Stanford is in, and seventh-place Washington should be, too. This is called falling in love with the one closest to you. Stanford is 18-11 and Washington is 18-12. These are not the kind of numbers that scream tournament team. In the Ratings Percentage Index, a valued tool come NCAA committee time, has Stanford 57 and Washington 75. “You tell me a seventh-place team in the country better than Washington,” USC coach Tim Floyd said. “There’s no way in the world. I absolutely believe Stanford is in.” Which sounded like excellent logic to Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. “I wouldn’t disagree,” he said. “Ifthey had a tournament for seventh-place teams, hopefully we would hold our own.” But Washington has exactly oneroad victory all season. The ACC’s seventh-place team is Georgia Tech (20-10), which has beaten No. 8 North Carolina and No.21 Duke. Oklahoma State (20-11) is seventh in the Big 12 and has beaten No. 13 Pitt and No. 15 Texas. Three teams are tied for seventh in the Big East, including West Virginia (21-8) and Villanova (21-9). Michigan State (21-10) is the Big Ten’s seventh-place team and owns victories over No.3 Wisconsin and Texas. Yet Lute Olson said in his 24 years at Arizona, this is the toughest the conference has ever been. It may well be, too. Yet it may be so deep, and have so much unimpressive 31-year history behind it, that this constant beating it’s given each other has diluted the conference in the eyes of the rest of the country. The conference tournament begins today at Staples Center and more blood figures to spill. Every team has something at stake, from UCLA securing a No. 1 seed to Washington just getting an invite. Plenty will be nervous. There’s still much to prove, but alas, it has to be done against each other. Steve Dilbeck’s column appears in the Daily News four times a week. stephen.dilbeck@dailynews.com. (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more