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Minor league teams use Te'o hoax for promotion

Minor league teams use Te'o hoax for promotion

FLORENCE, Ky. (AP) The Kentucky-based Florence Freedom minor league baseball team is jumping on the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax story, offering a bobblehead giveaway of the girlfriend - only the boxes will be empty.

And the New York Mets' Class A Brooklyn Cyclones will hold a ``Fictitious Friday'' on June 21. Sid Finch will make his professional debut against Roy Hobbs and the New York Knights - all fictional. The Cyclones said they will have a petting zoo ``featuring a unicorn, a mermaid and a Minotaur,'' adding they ``are also in discussions with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.''

The Freedom, a member of the Frontier League, said Friday that the boxes will go to the first 1,000 fans on May 23. They also will rope off a special section just for people to bring imaginary friends.

Freedom General Manager Josh Anderson says fans can make the bobblehead out to be whatever they want it to be.

Te'o, an All-American from Notre Dame, said this week he was duped in a bizarre scheme involving a fake ``girlfriend'' he met online. The tale of how Te'o played through the pain of the pain of the girlfriend's ``death'' became a major story line during the 2012 season.

The Cyclones will honor Finch, the pitcher with the 168 mph fastball in the fictional Sports Illustrated story from April Fool's Day 1985, and Hobbs and the Knights from ``The Natural,'' a 1952 novel and 1984 movie.

``Fans should be sure to arrive early because prior to the game, The Beatles will reunite for a once-in-a-lifetime concert event,'' Cyclones spokesman Jason Solomon said in an email, adding, ``OK, that's apparently not true either, but this girl I met online told me she could make it happen.''

Brooklyn's video board will feature player headshots of ``random people whose photos we found on the Internet.''

``Everywhere you look, there seems to be another story about an athlete that was covering up something,'' said Cyclones General Manager Steve Cohen said. ``People don't know who, or what, to believe any more. That got us thinking - let's have a night where our fans don't have to worry about what's real and what's not, we'll just tell them everything planned for that night is a hoax.''

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

he win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

COLUMBUS — Alex Ovechkin confidently predicted earlier this week that the Caps were going to win twice at Nationwide Arena and take their first round series back to Washington knotted, two games apiece.

And, on Thursday night, that’s exactly what Ovechkin made sure his team did.

No. 8, who was playing in his franchise-record 101st playoff game, scored his third goal of the playoffs early in the final frame and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Game 4.

Tarik’s Three Stars of Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4

1. Tom Wilson, Capitals

After a slow (and penalty-plagued) start to this series, Wilson has become a force. Yes, he took another minor, but the good is far outweighing the bad these days. Big Willy recorded a goal, an assist and a team-high seven shots. 

2. Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby had his best game in, well, a long time. He stopped 23 shots, including all eight he saw in a contentious second period.

The goal he surrendered was a nearly unstoppable tip-in by Boone Jenner.

3. T.J. Oshie, Capitals

Osh just plays the game so dang hard.

So it should come as no surprise that he delivered in his team’s biggest game of the season to this point. Oshie, of course, scored the game-winning goal on the power play midway through the second period.

It was No. 77’s second tally of the series. He also directed six shots at the Columbus net and made a couple of hits...all from a player who's been fighting through injury the past few weeks.

Agree? Disagree?

Let us know what you think in the comments.