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Former All-Star changes Sox from Red to White

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Former All-Star changes Sox from Red to White

From Comcast SportsNet
BOSTON (AP) -- Kevin Youkilis took off his batting helmet, waved to the crowd and blew a kiss to his adoring fans. A favorite at Fenway Park for so long, he wanted a final chance to say so long. The Boston Red Sox traded away the hard-nosed Youkilis on Sunday, sending the three-time All-Star infielder and cash to the Chicago White Sox for utilityman Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart. "Bobby (Valentine) wanted him to have that moment of walking off the field," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. A member of Boston teams that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007, the 33-year-old Youkilis had seen his playing time drastically cut lately. He now joins the AL Central-leading White Sox, who wanted a regular third baseman. "I just got off the phone with him, he's very excited to join our club and he's got a little edge to him that I like," White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. "I can't tell you exactly what he said, but he wants to come in and prove some people wrong." Youkilis had a rousing end to his days with the Red Sox. He was unavailable after the game, leaving behind a locker without his nameplate above it. After hitting an RBI triple in the seventh inning of a 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves, he was lifted for a pinch runner. Longtime pal Nick Punto came out to replace him and the pair hugged. Youkilis saluted the crowd and was rewarded with a standing ovation. His teammates, coaches and Valentine all were on the top step of the dugout cheering for him, and they urged Youkilis to take a curtain call. Youkilis' time in Boston became limited because of the play of rookie Will Middlebrooks, hitting .326 with nine homers and 34 RBIs in 41 games. "The way Middlebrooks was playing, he needs to be in the lineup every day," Cherington said. "Bobby's done a good job of shuffling everyday." But the GM said the veteran Youkilis will long be remembered for his hustle and grit. "He was a very passionate player that played very, very hard," Cherington said. "He sort of willed himself to being an All-Star and obviously was a huge contributor for us in the middle of the lineup. He did a lot of good things." The Fenway faithful should get to see Youkilis soon. The White Sox visit Boston a week after next month's All-Star game. The season started kind of rocky between Youkilis and first-year manager Valentine. In April, Valentine questioned Youkilis' commitment to the game in his weekly television interview, then later apologized to him a day later. Youkilis, who can play both of the corner infield spots, is a career .286 hitter with 133 homers and 563 RBIs. Longtime teammate Dustin Pedroia said it was a tough day. "He pushes me everyday," the Boston second baseman said. "I want to go out and play hard just like he does. He's always out there trying his best to do whatever he can to help us win. I appreciate him so much for that." The White Sox have been looking for a third baseman with Brent Morel plagued by back problems. "I think it's good for him. A good change of scenery, I'm sure," White Sox star Paul Konerko said. "Guy's a good player and he's been a great player in Boston for a long time so you can play at that level you can play anywhere." The 25-year-old Stewart is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 18 games with the White Sox this season. Lillibridge, 28, is hitting .175 with two RBIs and seven stolen bases in 48 games. Cherington was excited to get Stewart. "He's a good thrower and looks like he can be a major league starter," he said. "He just needs a little more time in the minors." Lillibridge is expected to join the Red Sox in a utility role. "I loved playing here, I enjoyed it so much," Lillibridge said after the White Sox beat visiting Milwaukee 1-0 in 10 innings. "I'm excited to see where my career will go and I'm excited to help the Red Sox."

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

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USA TODAY Sports

2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

Through six weeks of the NFL season, it's clear who the Super Bowl favorites are.

In the AFC, it's, um, well, OK, let's do the NFC first. In the NFC, you have to watch out for — actually, nevermind, this isn't that easy.

CLICK HERE FOR NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

The Chiefs and Eagles are the only two teams standing at 5-1, but there are quite a few 4-2 squads right behind them, as well as talented 3-win teams who can take any opponent down if they bring their best stuff. That means that as the halfway point approaches, both conferences are still open races.

And those races got a lot more interesting after a fun Week 6. The power rankings look a lot different than they did before the weekend because of Week 6's results, too.

So, click the link above or below to see who's moving up and who's sliding back. Or, in the case of the Browns, who's sliding but staying in the same spot simply because they can't be dropped any further.

CLICK HERE FOR NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

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Bradley Beal loves Sixers' Joel Embiid's trash-talking, just don't try it on the Wizards

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USA Today Sports Images

Bradley Beal loves Sixers' Joel Embiid's trash-talking, just don't try it on the Wizards

There may not be another athlete, regardless of sport, that is as good at social media as Sixers center Joel Embiid. It's partly why he has become so popular among fans and media despite only having 31 NBA games under his belt.

It has apparently even earned him a nickname as the 'Social Media King.' 

Everyone seems to be laughing, expect Heat center Hassan Whiteside perhaps. Embiid and Whiteside have been in an on-court and off-court beef for a while now. Last year Embiid called Whiteside "BBQ chicken" after one matchup, suggesting he 'cooked' him. Whiteside also made headlines for suggesting Embiid's social media prowess earned him All-Star votes.

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After a matchup between the two this preseason, Whiteside tweeted his team's record against Embiid's Sixers. So, Embiid fired back with a series of tweets, some of which were hilarious:

The Wizards host the Sixers for the regular season opener on Wednesday and, with Embiid's social media antics in the news, Bradley Beal was asked for his opinion after Monday's practice. He's amused.

"Jo-Jo is my boy. I like Jo-Jo. We have the same trainer and work out in the summers. That was crazy. That was really crazy. He was letting his feelings be known," Beal said. 

"But I like it, it keeps guys competitive. Same with Whiteside. I think that's what we need a little bit. I don't think there is necessarily going to be any fighting or any hands thrown or anything like that. It's a competition thing. Who is the better big and who is going to prove it?"

Beal enjoys Embiid's trash-talking from afar and considers him a friend. Just don't bring that stuff to D.C.

"When he plays us, we're going to try to shut him down as best as we can. We aren't trying to hear none of that talking and I'm gonna let him know about it, too," he said.

Markieff Morris may be out, but the Wizards have plenty of players who won't back down to trash-talking, Beal included.

[RELATED: HOW WILL WIZARDS GUARD BEN SIMMONS?]