NCAA Baseball Tournament 2017 scores and bracket: Louisville first team to Omaha

The second day of super regional play in the 2017 NCAA baseball tournament featured eight games at all eight tournament sites, and Louisville and Texas A&M were the first two teams this year to punch their tickets to the College World Series proper in Omaha, Neb.

The Cardinals downed the Wildcats, 5-2, on Friday then again, 6-2, on Saturday, and Drew Ellis and company are in business in the round of eight. Ellis, in fact, scorched off three home runs in the Louisville super, and his is the hot bat of the tournament currently.

The guy they want to draft (whoever that might be) should still be there at No. 3, where they traded down to. Moving off the top spot helped their payroll out, helped shed light on directions they hope to take with players they already have, and made it clear that there are likely more trades coming. They got in this situation to begin with due to trading established stars (Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) to the Nets in exchange for draft picks well down the road, one of which netted them the top spot in this season’s draft.

Now, fans around the NBA are invested in what Boston does next, if trading the pick that could net a potential superstar to a rival will backfire, or if it’ll turn out that Celtics’ general manager Danny Ainge has made a prescient move. Imagine if MLB could add these levels of intrigue to its own draft and transactions each season? The Twins passed on consensus No. 1 Hunter Greene just last week: How could they have helped their own rebuild and current path to contention out if they had been able to deal out of that spot instead of just passing on him?

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Darren Baker, the child batboy who nearly got crushed in the World Series, was drafted by the Nationals

The Washington Nationals used their 27th round pick in the MLB draft to pick Darren Baker, son of Nationals manager Dusty Baker and one-time very small, very cute batboy.

Darren became famous after he was saved by Giants first baseman J.T. Snow during the 2002 World Series. Darren, who was tasked with picking up bats larger than himself at the age of 3, almost got hit by a baserunner at home plate. Everyone was safe but the situation was a scary one:

And that was almost 15 years ago! Wanna feel even older? Darren just finished high school and had committed to play college baseball at the University of California before the draft.

This isn’t the first time a team has sold organic material to fans at a premium price. In 2014 Notre Dame decided to move from grass to turf and sold 2-foot-by-5-foot chunks of the field for $150 each. That grass didn’t commemorate a championship, but it’s still a big hunk of grass vs. a leaf like the Cubs are selling.

Fans are being allowed to purchase a maximum of 10 leaves from the Wrigley Field ivy, and have to pay a $15 shipping fee. If you’re the kind of person who would ever contemplate buying leaves of ivy for $200 here’s a few suggestions on better memorabilia you could get for the money.

Addison Russell came closest for the Cubs, with a defense-heavy 4.3 WAR last year, but the rest of the list is more amusing than amazing. Starlin Castro gave them four solid years, but before that was Ryan Theriot for two, a fluky .274 season from Neifi Perez, two from the OK-est shortstop from the last two decades, Ricky Gutierrez, and one from Jose Hernandez, a dinger-and-whiff oddball who was just a little ahead of his time.

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The Astros have won 10 in a row

The Astros just completed their third consecutive sweep, and have won 10 games in a row. They’re 15-4 over their last five series, and they only dropped one during the entire month of May: a three-game sweep at the hands of the Indians that somehow accounted for three of the four losses in the stretch mentioned above. They’ve basically been unstoppable outside of that Cleveland set.

Houston is 13.5 games up on the second-place Angels, who are only two games under .500 and just 2.5 out of a wild card spot. There’s only one other team outside the AL West this season that’s at least 13.5 games out from the division leader, and that’s the NL East’s last-place Phillies, who sit 15.5 back of the Nationals. And as good as the Nats have been, they’ve notched six fewer victories than the ‘Stros, and lost four more games.

Rosario now has eight home runs on the season, only five off his previous high of 13 from his rookie season in 2015. He has only had three hits, let alone bombs, in a game twice this season. However, in his short career, Rosario’s BABIP usually hangs around the .330 mark. Currently, it’s at .295. Never mind that the Twins’ offensive output was deviant, Rosario’s output could be a sign, especially if his BABIP resets to his average, that his numbers will only go up from here.

Never mind that Rosario’s third home run was knock off of position-player-pitcher Carlos Ruiz. Across the diamond, the Mariners ERA per game is 4.55, 21st in MLB. The Twins cared not that Mariners starting pitcher Christian Bergman had previously held them to one earned run on four hits June 9, just a week earlier. Thursday’s game was a stark contrast to Tuesday’s 11-run 2.2 innings pitched. The Mariners have three injured starters, but will send Sam Gaviglio to the mound Wednesday as the Twins look to sustain the unsustainable.

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Florida vs. LSU 2017, College World Series score: Gators topple Tigers, 6-1

Florida and LSU met yet again for Game 2 of the College World Series final Tuesday, and Florida beat LSU, 6-1, to win their first NCAA baseball championship in program history.

LSU started flamethrower lefty Jared Poch on the hill, opposite the Gators’ Tyler Dyson. On the first batter he faced, Poch surrendered a hit on a quirky fielding error by first baseman Nick Coomes, then another to Dalton Guthrie, who looped a fine ball into right center. That then was followed by a JJ Schwarz drive into left, which plated Deacon Liput down from third.

So, with runners at first and second, big bat Nelson Maldonado bashed a fly ball into deep right, which Greg Deichmann fielded on a spectacular leaping catch, and that moved everyone forward one base. That was merely the first out of the inning, and Poch had already received a mound visit from his pitching coach. He managed to get himself out of the jam on a pop fly to shallow left, and to the second they went with Florida holding a 1-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the second, Coomes again experienced some throwing and catching ailments as he fumbled a toss from Poch, which advanced Ryan Larson over to second. He then reached home on a single by Nick Horvath, and suddenly the Gators were working their way back through the top of the order. It was by then 2-0 Florida’s advantage, but Poch forced a grounder to the shortstop with men on first and second to get himself out of the jam.

He was the kind of talent who could miss a season, come back unexpectedly for the postseason, and help his team win a World Series, after all.

So the fall is dramatic and terrifying. But I’m going to guess that the slump is extending this far because he’s not really sure how to reverse it mentally, more than the rest of the league discovering what his kryptonite is.

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There is so much facial hair in Long Beach State-Cal State Fullerton Super Regional game

College baseball facial hair is an important, if rather niche, internet genre. Bethune-Cookman’s Austin Garcia knows well the importance of keeping a sanitary beardscape, and Texas A&M’s pitching staff is famous for sporting playoff mustaches during tournament time.

So, Long Beach State is hosting Cal State Fullerton in a west coast super regional this weekend, and both teams’ facial hair is here to see and be seen. Long Beach right fielder Brock Lundquist’s robber baron mustache is straight out of the Gilded Age, for instance.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time phantoms and specters from beyond the grave have interfered with the living human sport called baseball:

So I can’t think of any reason for this unexplained phenomenon other than supernatural involvement. Not a single one.

When there’s something strange … in the stadium… who you gonna call? The grounds crew!

The Braves would go on to win the game, 3-1, giving knuckleballer R.A. Dickey his first victory in over a month so maybe there was something otherworldly about this game after all.

In many respects, college baseball media coverage has yet to provide consistent, adroit analysis over the span of an entire season, but D1Baseball has made great strides in treating the sport in a systematic, general way. All eight of this year’s CWS teams, in fact, ranked in D1B’s preseason top 25, the lowest being Cal State Fullerton at No. 20. Kendall Rogers and Aaron Fitt are must-follows on Twitter, especially come tournament time.

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NBA trade rumors: Carmelo Anthony for Kyrie Irving trade is a no-go

The one way the Knicks can get Kyrie Irving is by trading Carmelo Anthony. The problem is Anthony doesn’t want to go to Cleveland if Kyrie Irving isn’t there as well.

It has been reported mutliple times that the Knicks have reached out to the Cavaliers in hopes of trading Anthony to them for Irving. The issue, though, is that Anthony still wants to play for Houston according to ESPN’s Ian Begley.

Gilbert didn’t learn enough from three straight NBA Finals trips and a championship that bathed him, the city and the organization in glory. He was just another rich guy who was lucky to have a local hero fall into his lap — twice. He didn’t figure out that all he had to do to bask forever in this glow was to leave well enough alone, with the smart executive and the transformational player.

Now they all run the risk of capsizing. Griffin has gone overboard, days before the draft and weeks before free agency, heading into a pivotal offseason for a team fighting to keep pace with the Warriors team that just took their crown.

There’s a big problem with Barkley’s argument, though. He’s contradicting himself. Remember what Barkley had to say about Kevin Durant when he decided to sign with the Warriors?

Kevin is a terrific player, he’s a good kid. But just disappointed with the fact that he weakened another team and he’s gonna kind of gravy train on a terrific Warriors team, Barkley said last summer on ESPN’s Mike and Mike. Just disappointed from a competitive standpoint. Because just like it meant more to LeBron to win one in Cleveland, it would mean more to Kevin to win one in Oklahoma than it would be in Golden State.

Kevin Durant is trying to cheat his way into a championship.

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LeBron James reportedly left LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson showdown over security concerns

Security concerns reportedly stopped LeBron James from attending the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships game between LaMelo Ball’s Big Baller Brand and Zion Williamson’s SC Supreme in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

According to ESPN, James planned to watch the game courtside, but changed his mind after seeing how many people were attending the event:

LeBron James had planned to watch the Ball-Williamson showdown courtside, but he did not get out of his vehicle after he arrived, instead deciding to avoid the frenzy after a conversation with people associated with the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships, a source told ESPN.com.

James arrived with several people before choosing to skip an event that already had been dealing with overcrowding and local police threatening to shut it down, per the source.

I don’t understand the Kyrie situation, Barkley said. This generation of players — you want to be on a good team. You want to play with other great players. This notion where you want to be the man, I just think it’s so stupid. If I got a chance to play with another great player, I want to do that. The objective is to win.

When he was on a bad team and he was the man, I guarantee you that wasn’t a lot of fun for him. And now you want to leave the best player in the world. And listen, I hear all of this stuff about how LeBron casts a big shadow. He should cast a big shadow… If you get a chance to play with great players, that’s half the battle.

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Timberwolves working to sign Andrew Wiggins to $148M extension, report says

Acquiring guard Andrew Wiggins in 2014 was the first step the Timberwolves took to relevancy, jumping them to the top of the NBA’s up-and-coming teams.

By adding Karl Anthony-Towns the next year in the draft and Jimmy Butler via trade a month ago, the Timberwolves are now a force to be reckoned with. And they apparently want to remain that way for years to come by signing their talented young players for the foreseeable future.

Wiggins is the first up for an extension, and the Timberwolves have plans to get that done soon, according to ESPN.

Wiggins averaged a career-high 23.6 points in 2016-17 and added 2.3 assists per game.

While Beasley is often viewed as a draft bust considering he was taken No. 2 overall behind Rose and ahead of 2016-17 MVP Russell Westbrook and four-time All-Star Kevin Love, the former Kansas State one-and-doner has stretched out a productive career and serves as a low-risk, (somewhat) high-reward signing. Beasley averaged 9.4 points per game for the Bucks last season on 53.2 percent shooting (41.9 percent from 3-point range), finishing with the second-highest player efficiency rating (17.8) of his nine-year NBA career.

At 28 years old on a veteran’s minimum contract ($2.1 million), Beasley provides a scoring punch as a reserve for a team that finished 25th in the league in bench scoring (31.9 points per game). And that’s assuming he comes off the bench — if Carmelo Anthony does eventually get traded, Beasley might need to step into the starting lineup. As one scout told The New York Post’s Marc Berman, He can flat out score — isos along the right baseline. He could be a perfect replacement for Melo, if he’s traded.

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Charles Oakley on today’s NBA players: ‘Some should wear dresses’

Charles Oakley has some thoughts on the current generation of NBA stars.

Speaking in Dallas before this weekend’s BIG3 event, the former Knicks star said today’s players are sensitive and that some should wear dresses.

The elbow jumper. It’s just part of his natural scoring instinct. When he gets you on the elbow he can create something, he is going to move his feet 100 different ways, but he knows where he is going. He can make a fallaway from there, which is the kind of clutch, late-game move you need. Of all the things he does, that is the one that shows just how good he can be.

He gets a little selfish out there. He won’t be able to do that with a team as talented as the Celtics. There are too many other scorers. But he does get it in his mind sometimes that he is going to take the shot, and he might use up all the clock before he throws up a dud. That is fixable, though.

You can do anything with this guy defensively. He can guard four positions. He has instincts, he can swallow up shooting guards with his length and his athleticism, but he is strong enough to handle 4s. His ability to get to the basket is terrific, but the way he can switch off anyone and still handle himself defensively, that is going to change things for the Suns.

He won’t be able to live off athleticism on the offensive end in the NBA. He needs to completely rebuild his shot, I think. He is young enough that you can break him down and rebuild his jumper and probably do it pretty quickly.

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Michael Jordan on LaVar Ball: ‘I don’t think he could beat me if I was one-legged’

Michael Jordan finally responded Monday to LaVar Ball’s outrageous boast earlier this year in USA Today that Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Answering questions at his Michael Jordan Flight School in Santa Barbara, Calif., Jordan not only addressed Ball’s comments but also put the man in his place succinctly.

It doesn’t deserve a response, but I’ma give it to you because you asked the question, Jordan said. I don’t think he could beat me if I was one-legged.

A little context: LaVar Ball played one season at Washington State, averaging 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Michael Jordan played 13 seasons in the NBA and averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

No one in his right mind thinks Ball could beat MJ one-on-one, including, now we know, MJ himself.

All of this, of course, comes with an obvious caveat: Griffin’s health. He has suffered a number of injuries over the last three seasons that have limited him to playing 163 out of a possible 246 regular season games. Seeing as most of those have been lower body injuries, it raises concerns about how prepared he is to put the Clippers on his back and carry them to the playoffs in what will be a loaded Western Conference. Griffin might not even be healthy to start next season (though he has said he expects to be ready for training camp), which wouldn’t be the most promising of starts to the post-Paul era in Los Angeles.

Nevertheless, if we’re operating under the assumption that Griffin can stay healthy, there’s no reason why the Clippers can’t continue to be one of the top offensive teams in the NBA with him at the helm. Griffin has shown he is capable of being both a scorer and a facilitator in the past, and the Clippers are built to play to his strengths.

At the very least, they owe it to themselves to see how far Griffin can take them as the No. 1 option as he enters his prime.

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