From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson want to cap their sensational comebacks with Super Bowl appearances. For now, they can be proud of Pro Bowl spots.So can Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, one of two rookies chosen Wednesday for the Jan. 27 NFL all-star game.Manning missed all of the 2011 season with neck and back problems that required several operations. He then signed with Denver as a free agent and has led the Broncos on a 10-game winning streak to take the AFC West."I know there's great players out there in the NFL, but there's some great players on this team this year that deserve to go," said Manning, whose 12th Pro Bowl is a record for quarterbacks. He ranks fourth in league passing this year, has thrown 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.Four other Broncos made the AFC roster: DE Elvis Dumervil, linebacker Von Miller, CB Champ Bailey and tackle Ryan Clady. Bailey's 12th appearance is a record for defensive backs."My goal has always been to go out and help the team win and play at a high level," Manning added. "Anything that comes along with that, like being honored as a Pro Bowl selection, is very humbling."Minnesota's Peterson tore up his left knee on Christmas Eve last year, underwent major surgery, then was back for the season opener. He's gone from uncertain to unstoppable, running away with the rushing title with a career-high 1,898 yards and lifting the Vikings toward an NFC wild card."Coming into the season after going through the rehab process, I just told myself that I wanted to lead my team to a championship and make sure that I contribute and do my part," Peterson said. "I've been doing it."Griffin is one of three rookie QBs who had superb debut seasons, along with Andrew Luck of Indianapolis and Russell Wilson of Seattle. Luck and Wilson weren't voted to the Pro Bowl by players, coaches and fans, although their teams are in the playoffs; Griffin can get to the postseason if Washington beats Dallas on Sunday."You can't play down those kind of things," Griffin said. "I've always said my whole football career that you don't play for awards. They just come. You don't say you're going to win the Heisman. You don't say you're going to win MVP. You go out and you prove it on the field, and if everyone feels that way then they'll give you that award."San Francisco had the most players selected, nine, including six from its second-ranked defense. Houston was next with eight, six on offense.Kansas City, despite its 2-13 record that is tied with Jacksonville for worst in the league, had five Pro Bowlers, including RB Jamaal Charles, who like Peterson is coming back from a torn ACL.One other rookie, Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, was chosen. Walsh has nine field goals of at least 50 yards, an NFL mark.The AFC kicker is at the other end of the spectrum: Cleveland's Phil Dawson earned his first selection in his 14th NFL season."I deliberately tried not to know," Dawson said. "We wanted to watch the show with my kids. I had a really good idea what was going on, but it was a pretty priceless moment when we saw the name flash up on the screen. My kids went nuts cause my wife went nuts. That makes these 15 years of waiting worth it."Another record setter will be heading to Honolulu: Detroit WR Calvin Johnson.Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season yards receiving record and has 1,892 yards with a game left.Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez set the record for Pro Bowls at his position by being chosen for the 13th time.The league's top two sackmasters, DEs Aldon Smith of San Francisco and J.J. Watt of Houston, were first-time selections. Watt has 20 1-2 sacks, one ahead of Smith; the NFL record is 22 1-2.Other newcomers, along with Griffin, Walsh and Dawson, were AFC players tackle Duane Brown and guard Wade Smith of Houston; safety LaRon Landry of the Jets; kick returner Jacoby Jones of Baltimore; and punter Dustin Colquitt of Kansas City.For the NFC, first-timers were Giants WR Victor Cruz; Atlanta WR Julio Jones; Seattle tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger; San Francisco guard Mike Iupati, linebacker NaVorro Bowman and safety Donte Whitner; Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings and defensive tackle Henry Melton; Washington tackle Trent Williams and special teamer Lorenzo Alexander; Minnesota fullback Jerome Felton; Tampa Bay DT Gerald McCoy; and New Orleans punter Thomas Morstead.Eight teams had no Pro Bowl players: Carolina, Philadelphia and St. Louis in the NFC, Tennessee, Buffalo, Jacksonville, San Diego and Oakland in the AFC.
If you were paying really close attention during Game 2 of the ALCS, you saw it.
One fan in the stands at U.S. Cellular Field was hoisting a sign that perfectly summed up how the White Sox scored their runs during a 99-win regular season and during a march to the World Series.
“Small ball, Paul ball, over-the-wall ball.”
Small ball was rebranded “Ozzie ball” by these White Sox, who reaped the rewards of Kenny Williams’ bold offseason trade. The general manager shipped away a productive slugger, Carlos Lee, for a speed demon on the base paths, Scott Podsednik. Lee was pretty darn good at swinging the stick. But the White Sox craved balance in their lineup, and with Podsednik’s base-stealing ability causing chaos at the top of the order, they got it and scored more runs in the first inning than any other during the 2005 season.
Paul ball, well that’s obvious. Paul Konerko was the team’s MVP in 2005. He smashed 40 homers for the second straight season and hit triple digits in RBIs for the third time in his career. He was particularly potent during the second half, helping to prevent a complete free fall out of first place with the Cleveland Indians charging in September.
And over-the-wall ball? Well, as balanced as the White Sox lineup was thanks to Podsednik’s arrival, the South Siders still hit a lot of home runs. Seven different hitters launched at least 15 dingers. Even Podsednik, who had zero of them during the regular season, got in on the power display in the playoffs, hitting one in the ALDS and a walk-off homer in the World Series.
Fast forward two nights from when that sign was lifted up on the South Side, and you saw the White Sox follow that script to a “T” in Southern California.
In the first 17.2 innings of the ALCS, the White Sox scored three measly runs. A tip of the cap to the Angels’ pitching staff, but this was not the same production from a lineup that mauled the Red Sox during the first round of the playoffs. Then A.J. Pierzynski swung, missed and ran to first base and the White Sox offense woke up. Over the course of the next five White Sox hitters to step to the plate — Joe Crede’s walk-off double to finish Game 2 and the first four batters of Game 3 — the White Sox scored four runs.
How’d they do it against John Lackey in Game 3? How do you think?
Podsednik did his thing at the top of the lineup and got on base with a leadoff hit. Then Tadahito Iguchi bunted him into scoring position ahead of Jermaine Dye’s RBI double. Paul Konerko followed with a solo homer slammed into the left-field seats — the beginning of a three-hit, three-RBI night for him — and the White Sox had a crooked number on the board. Just like that.
Small ball, Paul ball, over-the-wall ball.
Of course, this all leaves out the most important ingredient in the White Sox success that season and in this series, in particular: starting pitching. While the offense took a while to wake up in the ALCS, the pitching was on point from “go.” Jose Contreras threw 8.1 innings in Game 1. Mark Buehrle allowed just one run in nine innings in Game 2. And Jon Garland followed with the second of what would be four straight complete-game efforts by White Sox starters in this series.
Though there was more to come, with Freddy Garcia and Contreras going the distance in Games 4 and 5, through three games, White Sox starters had already turned in an impressive string of games, allowing just six runs in 26.1 innings for a 2.05 ERA.
But as good as the pitching was — and it was out-of-this-world good — the White Sox needed to get back to their run-scoring ways following the quiet offensive performances in Games 1 and 2. They did just that, and not until Game 4 of the World Series did they score fewer than five runs.
When it came to how they scored those runs moving forward, the sign didn’t lie.
Small ball? Podsednik wrecked havoc the very next night in Game 4 of the ALCS, reaching base four times (thrice via the walk), stole a pair of bases and scored two runs.
Paul ball? Konerko had more damage to do, with at least one hit in each of the next five playoff games, including an unforgettable grand slam in Game 2 of the World Series.
Over-the-wall ball? The White Sox hit three homers in the final two games of the ALCS, then six more in the World Series, including iconic shots from Konerko, Podsednik and Geoff Blum.
So there are a few hundred words on the subject. But did I really do any better with all those words than that fan did with eight?
“Small ball, Paul ball, over-the-wall ball.”
Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 4 of the ALCS, airing at 7 p.m. Friday on NBC Sports Chicago.
The NBA recently issued a survey to general managers to measure the league’s temperature on various formats for the season to restart in, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has obtained the results of said survey. The findings are as follows:
Half of the league’s general managers voted to skip straight to a 16-team postseason (bye, Bulls)
“Just over half” of the league’s general managers voted to reseed a hypothetical 16-team postseason by record, independent of conference
“About 75 percent” of the league’s general managers voted for a play-in tournament that would pit fringe playoff teams against each other to decide the final seeds of a playoff (O’Connor reported the Lakers and Bucks to favor this format)
The remaining 25 percent of the league’s general managers voted for a playoff featuring World Cup-esque group stage first round
Of note: The Bulls currently own the 24th-best record (22-43) in the NBA. It's not specified how many teams each of the above models would involve, but if that answer ends up being less than 24 (and the remainder of the regular season ends up being skipped), the Bulls would not be going to Disney World.
What does this mean for the NBA’s larger decision on how to format a relaunch of its season? Evidently, not much. Early Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Friday’s Board of Governors call will not include a vote on a plan to return to play. O’Connor echoed that sentiment in his reporting, including a quote from an unnamed GM that read: “Adam isn’t taking the results seriously… Every team is obviously gonna vote for what’s best for them.”
Instead, O’Connor posited that Silver might be using this opportunity to gauge league-wide interest in various schedule innovations moving forward. This would fit Silver’s MO. Even before the coronavirus pandemic halted the sports world, the NBA had long pondered and pushed for the idea of an in-season tournament as a way to drum up interest. In a time of financial strife for the league, interest has never been more at a premium than it is now, or will be next season.
Still, Silver and company have more immediate fish to fry, in terms of hammering down a format for finishing the 2019-20 campaign. Potential formats, timelines and so on will reportedly be discussed Friday. As of this writing, 22 of 30 teams have opened their practice facilities for limited, voluntary, individual workouts (a trend the Bulls may follow suit in come Friday), but all of them are awaiting direction on what’s to come — the players reportedly as anxiously as anyone.
NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts tells @ramonashelburne: “It’s time. It’s been two-and-half months of ‘What if?’ My players need some level of certainty. I think everybody does.” https://t.co/V3EpwKcKki— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 26, 2020
For now, that’s all any of us can do.