Matt Cockayne

Penn State remains at No. 4 in AP poll for third week in a row

Penn State remains at No. 4 in AP poll for third week in a row

For the third week in a row, Penn State picked up a big win, and for the third week in a row, that win has kept them at No. 4 in the AP poll.

The Nittany Lions (5-0) crushed Indiana, 45-14, Saturday at home to stay undefeated behind a huge game from Saquon Barkley. The Heisman candidate rushed for 56 yards, caught four passes for 51 yards, returned a kick 98 yards for a touchdown and even threw a 16-yard pass for a touchdown.

Alabama (5-0), Clemson (5-0), and Oklahoma (4-0) also won their games to stay at 1, 2, and 3 in the AP poll, respectively, to round out the top 4. USC (4-1) lost to then-No. 16 Washington State and dropped from No. 5 to No. 14.

Georgia hopped No. 6 Washington and replaced USC at No. 5 after a 41-0 win against Tennessee. Michigan, TCU, Wisconsin and Ohio State round out this week's Top 10 at No. 7, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10, respectively. 

Penn State will look to stay unbeaten at Northwestern next Saturday afternoon. 

Check out the full AP poll here.

Phillies players react to Pete Mackanin being out as manager

Phillies players react to Pete Mackanin being out as manager

When Cameron Rupp arrived at Citizens Bank Park on Friday ahead of his team’s game with the New York Mets, he didn’t expect to hear that Pete Mackanin had been fired as the Phillies' manager (see story).

“I was just kind of like ‘Wow’,” Rupp said. “It’s not something that you ever expect or know when something like that is coming. I guess that’s just the nature of the business when they believe it’s time to make a change. That’s something we have to deal with and it’s part of the game.”

Instead, Mackanin, who was under contract through 2018, signed a new contract with the club to be a special assistant to the general manager. He will manage the Phillies' final three games of the 2017 season against the Mets.

In almost three seasons as Phillies manager, Mackanin posted a 172-247 record entering Friday with zero playoff appearances. In 2017, the Phillies finished an abysmal first half at 29-58, but have turned it around to end the season behind the success of their young prospects.

After winning 11 of their last 18 games and 17 of 31 since the end of August, Rupp questioned the timing of the decision.

“We’ve played really good baseball in the second half,” Rupp said. “We’ve had good pitching, offense has been there, and we’re in the top in baseball in offense the last couple months. It’s not something you expect. You don’t come to the ballpark saying, ‘Who’s getting fired?’ or ‘Who’s not going to return?’ You come to the ballpark to get ready for the night and when you hear it, it’s a little surprising.”

Rookie Rhys Hoskins echoed his teammate’s opinion.

“To me, yeah, [it’s odd timing],” Hoskins said. “But I’ve never gone through it. The organization did what it thought was best. We’re still going to go out and play hard and try to win these last three games.”

Hoskins has been one of the driving forces behind the Phillies' second-half surge, posting 18 home runs and 47 RBIs since being called up on Aug. 10. He attributed much of his early success to the 66-year-old Mackanin.

“He’s a great baseball guy,” Hoskins said. “He’s been around the game for a long time and I think that experience he has is pretty invaluable. He was able to pass that off to some of us young guys. I think being around him for the 50 games that I was up here is something that I’ll remember, especially as my first manager in the big leagues.”

After Friday's move, Phillies GM Matt Klentak is clearly pushing the team in a new direction (see story). Now Rupp and the rest of the players can only wait to find what direction that takes them.

“We knew who we were going to be playing for next year and now it’s like ‘OK. Who’s it going to be?,'” Rupp said. “It’s always nice to go into spring training and know what to expect, who’s going to be running camp and now it’s like ‘What’s this camp going to be like? What’s this roster going to look like?’ There’s going to be changes made and decisions that will be made. It will be different for us.”

Former Phillies reliever Pat Neshek angry with Zack Greinke over autograph fiasco

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USA Today Images

Former Phillies reliever Pat Neshek angry with Zack Greinke over autograph fiasco

Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke will sign an autograph for me, but not former Phillies reliever Pat Neshek.

Years ago, when Greinke played for the Kansas City Royals, he autographed a baseball for me before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Neshek, however, was not as lucky.

In addition to pitching for the Rockies, Neshek is an avid baseball memorabilia collector. He has written about it in the past on his website, and apparently is a frequent poster on the Sportscollectors.net message board.

Hat tip to Deadspin here: Neshek recently posted on the message board under the username "heat17" about a dispute with Greinke at a game against the Diamondbacks a few weeks ago, ripping the starting pitcher for refusing to sign an autograph for him.

Neshek wrote ...

"I asked him at the all star game if he would sign for me and he said he would... so a couple weeks ago we played them and I sent over the cards I needed signed... basically 3 league leaders cards with Kershaw and Wainwright already done and 2 from 2015 to complete the set. He said no... I waited around for him during batting practice and went up to him and he totally denied having the conversation at the all star game... I then asked why this was a problem and he said it's because "I wear him out." Hard to wear someone out when he has never signed for me. This is the only a-hole in major league baseball that has been a turd to me."

Neshek later compared Greinke's behavior to a few other MLB players he has dealt with in the past, but said he has "never seen anything like Greinke."

"So going back to the conversation I said can you just get these done it will take 5 seconds... just draw a little z on them for me... He said no I will never sign for you... I walked away... a couple minutes later I confronted him in the outfield while he was jogging and told him what I thought of him... he just kept on running then said I wouldn't even sign for your kid if he asked.... I wanted to laugh knowing he had probably thought of that line for a long time and that was the best he could come up with... I then let him know what I thought of him again and being the socially awkward guy he is ran back to the dugout and went inside. Soooo I'm done with this guy. I'm basically gonna have to trade with someone on here to 50/50 them down the road."

When his message board posts recieved attention, he poked fun at the issue on Twitter.

After a few hours of attention, it seems like Neshek has moved past the dispute.