Bulls

Baseball's most surprising team ... the Pirates?

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Baseball's most surprising team ... the Pirates?

From Comcast SportsNet
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A day before he takes part in the home run derby as part of the All-Star festivities in Kansas City, Andrew McCutchen put on a show for the home fans. McCutchen hit two home runs, Neil Walker homered among his five hits and the Pittsburgh Pirates entered the All-Star break in sole possession of first place following a 13-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. McCutchen hit a pair of two-run homers that immediately followed hits by Walker -- one to open the scoring in the first and another to make it 12-2 in the seventh. "I am not going up to bat to hit home runs," McCutchen said. "I am just trying to put good swings on balls and when I do that, depending on where the pitch is and how my swing is, some balls go out." If they don't go out, they at least drop in for a hit of some sort lately for the red-hot McCutchen, who enters the break on a 21-for-38 (.552) tear. He has multiple hits in six of his past nine games and 23 RBIs in his past 19 games. All of his team-high 18 home runs have come in the past two months -- an NL-high 12 have come with runners on base. The long-woeful Pirates have won six of seven and 10 of 12, and no team in the majors has a better record since May 12 than Pittsburgh's 34-19. "We worked hard to get to where we are, and we've earned our way so far," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. A.J. Burnett pitched effectively into the seventh to win his ninth consecutive decision, and Casey McGehee went 3 for 4 with two RBIs for Pittsburgh. The Pirates (48-37) are 11 games over .500 for the first time since 1992 and are in first place at the break for the first time since 1997. The franchise has endured a North American professional sports record 19 consecutive losing seasons. The Pirates have gone 11-1-1 in their past 13 series and have won seven consecutive series at PNC Park. "Seeing what's going on here, it's fun to be a part of it," said Burnett, acquired in an offseason trade from the New York Yankees. The Giants' Tim Lincecum failed to get out of the fourth inning for the second consecutive start, getting charged with six runs on seven hits. The two-time Cy Young Award winner enters the break with a 6.42 ERA that is worst in the majors among qualifying starters. Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run homer for San Francisco, which has lost five of six and seven of nine. Burnett (10-2) retired 13 consecutive Giants batters from the first until the sixth. He was lifted after Sandoval hit his eighth homer with Buster Posey aboard in the seventh. Burnett was charged with two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings. Burnett improved to 6-0 at home and became the second Pirates pitcher since 1993 to win 10 games prior to the All-star break. Pittsburgh has won each of his past 12 outings. Burnett's winning streak is a career-best. Walker extended his hitting streak to 12 games -- tying a team season high -- with a homer, double and three singles. It was the first five-hit game for a Pirates player since Walker did it July 20, 2010. Walker is hitting .489 (23-for-47) during his streak. "Days like today can happen," said Walker, "but certainly five hits is something that comes around very rarely." Walker hit his sixth home run with nobody on in the third, and the Pirates chased Lincecum (3-10) with a three-run fourth. Burnett's soft liner through the middle with the bases loaded scored McGehee. It was the pitcher's 10th career RBI and first since Aug. 9, 2005, while with Florida. Burnett was the final batter Lincecum would face -- although runs that scored via a Drew Sutton sacrifice fly and Walker single would be charged to him. Lincecum has allowed 69 earned runs -- most in the majors and three more than his total from all of last season. He has allowed 47 earned runs in 47 innings on the road this season. "You never want to say, Hey, I've hit rock bottom,' or anything like that," Lincecum said. "But when things are going as bad as they are right now, you've kind of got to go out there like you've got nothing left to lose. Leave it all out there on the field and what happens, happens." Manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum will start San Francisco's second game out of the break. He also was emphatic that he has given no thought to removing Lincecum from the rotation. "He's got to put this first half behind him..." Bochy said. "He's got to regroup. We need him. He's got to be determined to turn things around, and have a better second half. "There's not much you can do right now." About the only negative for the Pirates on Sunday was McGehee pulling up lame with a mild left groin strain after swatting a two-run "single" deep into the notch in left-center during the sixth. Pittsburgh entered the day a game up on the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central. Only Washington has a better record among NL teams. Notes: The Giants had three errors. ... The Pirates' 29-14 home record is the best in the majors. They have won nine of 11 and 14 of 17 at PNC Park. ... Pittsburgh will be on the road for 16 of its first 22 after the break, beginning with three in Milwaukee Friday-Sunday. Manager Clint Hurdle set the order of his rotation to start the unofficial second half: RHP James McDonald, RHP Kevin Correia, Burnett, RHP Jeff Karstens and LHP Erik Bedard. ... San Francisco hosts Houston for a three-game series coming out of the break beginning Friday. The Giants took two of three from the Astros at home June 12-14.

Wendell Carter Jr. is now 6 feet, 9 inches---and other Bulls' height adjustments

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USA Today

Wendell Carter Jr. is now 6 feet, 9 inches---and other Bulls' height adjustments

With player heights long a topic of question and debate, the NBA informed teams that all players must be measured by a team physician this training camp.

It’s all part of the league’s push towards transparency, which includes detailed reports on officiating and other initiatives.

So who grew and who shrank among the Bulls?

Wendell Carter Jr. dropped from 6 feet, 10 inches to 6-foot-9, which will do nothing to change the narrative that he's an undersized big man. Kris Dunn moved from 6-4 to 6-3. Daniel Gafford isn’t 6-11, as first advertised when drafted, but 6-10. And Denzel Valentine is no longer 6-6 but 6-4.

The Bulls even pushed down Coby White’s flamboyant hairstyle and discovered he’s 6-4, not 6-5.

As for those who grew, well, Zach LaVine’s All-Star candidacy now features him as a 6-6 guard, not 6-5. New big man Luke Kornet is really big; he’s 7-2, not 7-1. And Shaq Harrison somehow grew from 6-4 to 6-7.

That’s the official Bulls’ roster. 

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Trubisky or not, Matt Nagy should be the lead voice on future Bears QB decisions

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USA Today

Trubisky or not, Matt Nagy should be the lead voice on future Bears QB decisions

The play of Mitch Trubisky in his season-and-a-half under coach Matt Nagy is, for better or worse, an unfinished work. Whatever the final result, after this season or the next, the latter of which looming as a decision point on a long-term contract for Trubisky, the Bears may be best advised going forward to make Nagy the decision-maker on quarterback calls rather than GM Ryan Pace.

Pace owes his head coach a leading voice and vote in finding a quarterback (or two) in the Bears’ 2020 draft and/or offseason. Because a simple NFL fact is that Matt Nagy deserves a chance to develop his own quarterback, not simply have his tenure defined by a quarterback (Trubisky) that he inherited.

Plus, Nagy has arguably better credentials and experience for quarterback evaluations than Pace.

Nagy learned his craft from Andy Reid, whose head-coaching career began in Philadelphia with the 1999 drafting of Donovan McNabb. Reid also drafted four more quarterbacks during McNabb’s run, including A.J. Feeley (2001) and Nick Foles (2012), as well as bringing in Michael Vick to deepen the depth chart.

When Reid went to Kansas City (and brought Nagy with him) in 2013, the first thing he did was to trade for Alex Smith from San Francisco; Reid (and Nagy as QB coach) groomed Smith into a three-time Pro Bowler. But while Smith was being brought along, the Chiefs also drafted three more quarterbacks in the four drafts following the Smith trade. The third of those quarterbacks was Patrick Mahomes, whom Nagy had a one-year hand in developing before taking the Bears job.

Pace, who said at the outset of his GM reign that ideally the Bears would be able to draft a QB every year, has largely ignored the quarterback pipeline, as noted previously. Trubisky has been the only quarterback among Pace’s 32 picks over five drafts.

Nagy has been involved in acquisitions of Nick Foles, Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. Pace’s efforts have been toward Marcus Mariota (the Titans wanted too much for the 2015 No. 2 slot), Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon and Trubisky. Regardless of how Trubisky develops or doesn’t through the rest of 2019, Pace owes his coach a leading place in the quarterback-selection process from start to finish.

The search for depth or an upgrade from Trubisky may circle back to Mariota, who has now been benched in Tennessee and has never been the same player after suffering a broken leg in late 2016. Mariota played for Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at Oregon and obviously had high grades from Pace coming into the NFL.

Trubisky is largely the same QB he was for John Fox

Trubisky may yet prove to be the solution for the Bears quarterback situation. But results over his three – not just the two in Matt Nagy’s system – seasons say he is pretty much what he looks to be.

The cliché narrative, never particularly refuted by Trubisky, was that the young quarterback was shackled by a combination of John Fox’s conservatism and Dowell Loggains’ supposed incompetence. Two points suggest otherwise:

One, is that his first brace of coaches knew Trubisky’s limitations, both in general as well as those from simply being a uber-green rookie with only 13 college starts. Trubisky was deemed to have accuracy issues in the mid and deeper range, which has repeatedly proved to be the case, as recently as Sunday.

The second is that, in 2017 after his first three rookie games getting settled in, Trubisky in fact threw slightly more passes (31.3 per game) over his final nine starts under Fox/Loggains than he did through his 14 starts under Nagy in 2018 (31.0).

Parenthetically, in those first three in 2017, a governor was in place, with Trubisky throwing 25, 16 and 7 passes. The Bears also won the latter two. 

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