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After Giants win title, Niners getting their shot

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After Giants win title, Niners getting their shot

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) When Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith drove in the Giants' victory parade last fall, players on San Francisco's championship baseball team hoped they might be able to return the favor if the 49ers could win it all a few months later.

Now, the Giants might just get that very chance with the NFC champion Niners headed to New Orleans to face the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Titletown USA very well could be moving out West - and soon.

``For sure!'' Giants general manager Brian Sabean said Sunday night.

San Francisco is trying to become the first market to win a World Series and Super Bowl in the same season since the Boston Red Sox accomplished it in 2004 and the New England Patriots followed suit in February 2005.

What's more, even the NBA's Golden State Warriors are giving Bay Area fans an awful lot to cheer and hopes of a playoff season.

The 49ers beat Atlanta and made it this far with a second-year quarterback boasting all of nine career starts to his name - 25-year-old Colin Kaepernick. The Giants captured their second championship in three years behind the play of an All-Star catcher who won the NL batting title and MVP after missing most of 2011 with a season-ending left leg and ankle injury - 25-year-old Buster Posey.

The teams have taken a similar path, too.

The Giants rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the NL division series to beat Cincinnati, then from a 3-1 hole in the NL championship series against the 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals before manager Bruce Bochy's bunch pulled off an improbable World Series sweep of the well-rested Detroit Tigers.

On Sunday, the 49ers traveled to hostile Atlanta, erased a 17-0 deficit and held the Falcons scoreless over the second half for a 28-24 victory.

``One thing about our team is that all year we continued to find, and even through adversity, we continued to fight,'' linebacker Patrick Willis said.

With second-year coach Harbaugh leading the way, San Francisco is headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time since after the 1994 season, when it won its fifth championship during a remarkable run through the 1980s and 90s.

When the Giants rallied to beat the Reds, they became the first team in major league history to come back from a 2-0 deficit by taking three straight on the road. The 49ers snapped a five-game postseason road losing streak Sunday at Atlanta.

In late September, San Francisco's baseball players autographed a hat for Smith, the quarterback who had been fined $15,000 last season by the NFL for sporting a Giants hat after games - though the fine was later dropped. Bochy wore a 49ers hat in the dugout before a game to show Smith - who later threw out a ceremonial first pitch during the playoffs - that the Giants appreciated him.

``We're having fun with this. It's our way of supporting him for supporting us,'' Bochy said at the time. ``We're all 49er fans here. This is in honor of Alex. I'm glad he didn't have to pay the fine. That's good news.''

Infielder Ryan Theriot also bought 49ers hats for his teammates, while quirky reliever Sergio Romo dressed in full 49ers garb after one of his games. He sported a red Aldon Smith No. 99 jersey, and also attended a 49ers game and met players in the locker room afterward - even seeking a few autographs and getting a hug and handshake from tight end Vernon Davis.

San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt rode with Harbaugh in the Halloween victory parade through the city.

``He might have gotten more claps than I did,'' Belt said, only half-joking.

Harbaugh quickly nixed that notion a couple of days later.

Giants CEO Larry Baer's favorite sign he saw on parade day read: ``San Francisco, Happiest Place on Earth.''

Hard to argue this is the place to be right about now - especially for the avid sports fan.

``San Francisco fans need to sit back and enjoy,'' former Giants first baseman J.T. Snow said Sunday. ``They have no reason to ever complain again! Be happy! San Francisco has two great leaders in Boch and Harbaugh.''

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Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

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Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

On Monday, with the NHL trade deadline approaching, the Washington Capitals addressed a need for blue line depth by acquiring Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

But before you begin to analyze how the move impacts the Capitals' outlook heading forward, lets take some time to get to know the newest member of the Caps.

Who is Michal Kempny?

Michal Kempny is a 27-year-old defenseman from the Czech Republic. He was born on Sept. 8, 1990 in Hodonin, a small town in southwestern Czech Republic near the border of Austria and Slovakia. Kempny began his hockey career playing for SHK Hodonin. Kempny knew very little english upon arriving to the NHL, but credited his girlfriend Showtime shows to helping him become more comfortable speaking the language. 

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What International Experience Does Michal Kempny Have?

Michal Kempny played professionally for HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga and Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Kempny was a standout player on the international stage, playing for the Czech Republic U18, U20 and Men's National teams.

MORE ON THE TRADE: WHERE DOES KEMPNY FIT IN THE CAPS ROSTER

When Did Michal Kempny Make His NHL Debut?

Michal Kempny was signed to a one-year contract as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Blackhawks in May, 2016 and made his NHL debut in October, 2016. Kempny scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 30, 2016 against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Kempny appeared in 50 games for the Blackhawks during the 2016-17 season, recording two goals and six assists. The Blackhawks re-signed Kempny to a one-year extension during the offseason. Kempny played in 31 games this season before being traded to the Capitals.

What Type of Hockey Player is Michal Kempny?

Kempny is a 6-0, 194-pound defenseman with a strong left-handed shot. Known for his play on the offensive end, Kempny was never able to gain the trust of Joel Quenneville on the defensive end. But Kempny has a good bit of offensive upside, thanks to his passing skills and strong shot, which is why the Blackhawks took a flier on him in the first place and why he was an ideal trade candidate for the Capitals. But again, Kempny's size is less than ideal for a top-tier blue-liner and while he doesn't shy away from contact, he is rarely much of a physical presence. 

What Does Michal Kempny's Contract Look Like?

Michael Kempny is set to become an unrestricted free agent the the end of the 2017-18 season and has a cap hit of just $900,000.

RELATED: TROTZ REACTS TO RACIAL COMMENTS MADE BY CHICAGO FANS

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Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE