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David Beckham won't be in London Olympics

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David Beckham won't be in London Olympics

From Comcast SportsNet
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Beat it, Beckham. That was essentially the message given former England captain David Beckham, who was told he failed to make the British soccer team for the London Olympics -- the very games he helped secure for his country. One of the most recognizable sportsmen in the world, Beckham seemed a certainty after making the 35-man shortlist but was informed by coach Stuart Pearce on Wednesday night that he had not made the final squad. There are only three places allowed for players over the age of 23. "Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me, so I would have been honored to have been part of this unique Team GB squad," the 37-year-old Beckham said in a statement Thursday. "Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold." London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe praised Beckham's commitment to London since it won the bid in 2005 and indicated there could still be a role for him at the Olympics, though not in a sporting capacity. "David has been an extraordinary supporter, probably our No. 1 supporter, of the games from the very beginning and is keen to continue his enthusiastic support right to the end," Coe said. "He really gets this. He is from east London and knows how important the games and sport are to young people. He is a great role model and we are lucky to have such an advocate. I will be talking to him about a games-time role." British bookmaker Ladbrokes slashed the odds on Beckham being given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame at the July 27 opening ceremony, making him 5-1. Five-time rowing gold medalist Steve Redgrave is the 1-2 favorite. For his part, Beckham has so far only said he hopes to attend the Olympics and support the 550-strong British team. "As a Londoner, I will have been really proud to have played a small part in bringing the Olympics to my home town as part of Seb's team, and I can't wait for the games to begin and enjoy every moment along with the rest of Great Britain," Beckham said. The British Olympic Association said it had not yet been informed by the English Football Association, which is running the team, that Beckham had been snubbed by Pearce. The coach was in the United States to assess Beckham's form and fitness as a Major League Soccer midfielder for the Los Angeles Galaxy. "We are expecting the list no later than the early part of next week," the BOA said in a statement. The decision by Pearce almost certainly spells the end of Beckham's career representing his country, having made 115 England appearances -- a record for an outfield player -- with the last coming in 2009. It also denies Beckham a chance to be reunited with his former Manchester United teammate Ryan Giggs on the international stage when Britain fields its first Olympic football team since 1960. Giggs, fellow Welshman Craig Bellamy and English defender Micah Richards will be the overage players on the squad, a person familiar with the situation said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because team details haven't been released. It appears Beckham lost his place to the 24-year-old Richards, who plays for Manchester City and will provide extra defensive cover after missing out on England's European Championship squad. The 32-year-old Bellamy is a forward at Liverpool who, like Giggs and Richards, has never appeared at a major international football tournament. Britain plays its opening match against Senegal at Old Trafford on July 26, faces the United Arab Emirates three days later at Wembley and Uruguay on Aug. 1 at the Millennium Stadium. Britain has not fielded an Olympic soccer team since 1960 because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland feared losing their independence within FIFA. The world body has assured the federations that their status won't be affected by participating in the 16-team competition at the London Games.

It might have been just another dinger in homer-happy All-Star Game, but Willson Contreras will remember it forever

It might have been just another dinger in homer-happy All-Star Game, but Willson Contreras will remember it forever

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Willson Contreras’ third-inning home run might not have ended up standing out too much in an All-Star Game featuring a jaw-dropping and record-shattering 10 dingers.

But, obviously, it will always stand out to the guy who hit it.

“I enjoyed every single second that I spent out there.”

Remarkably, Contreras repeated his feat from two seasons ago, when he hit his first big league homer on the first big league pitch he ever saw. Ditto on Tuesday night at Nationals Park, when he launched the first pitch he saw as an All Star out over the wall in left field.

“When I hit the ball and thought it was gone, I went back to 2016, playing in Chicago. It was the same thing, first pitch for a homer,” Contreras, all smiles, said following the American League’s 8-6 victory. “I’m really blessed with these kinds of situations. Those moments, they’re going to be history and they’re going to be in my mind and my heart.”

Contreras’ long ball was the highlight of the evening for fans watching back home in Chicago. Javy Baez got a hit in his first All-Star at-bat but was outdone by his teammate. White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was hitless in his two trips to the plate.

And while it will be a highlight on this night for Cubs fans, it will be a highlight forever for Contreras, who enjoyed the heck out of his first All-Star experience.

“‘I did it, I did it,’” he said when asked what was going through his head. “I knew it was something special. And I wasn’t trying to do too much because these guys are nasty, throwing 98 in the first inning. I just tried to get the hit out.”

The nasty guy he went deep against was Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell, whose 2.27 ERA on the season made him a very worthy inclusion on the AL roster. But Contreras was more impressed with the guy who started the game for the National League, raving about Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer after the game.

“He was great, man. Great stuff, he gets so into the game,” Contreras said. “I would like to have him one day on my team or play with him for a few years. That guy is amazing.”

That’s not the current Nationals star Cubs fans are dreaming about, Willy, but point taken.

But it wasn’t Snell or Scherzer or even Baez or Jon Lester, also in the NL dugout, who Contreras was thinking about the most during his home run trot. Instead, Contreras was thinking about his grandfather, Ernesto, who passed away a few years ago.

“My grandpa, he died in 2015,” Contreras said. “I grew up with him.

“He didn’t play ball. But I feel like every time I go out there and step into the box, he’s at my back. It just feels amazing when you hit a homer or do something special, look at the sky and you know that he’s there smiling somewhere.”

It all made for a pretty incredible night for Contreras, who has officially and loudly taken his place among baseball’s best on the game’s biggest stage.

The only thing that was missing? The ball.

Yeah, Contreras didn’t get the ball, not that he really expected to. But if you’ve got it, he wants it.

“I don’t think they’re giving it back,” he said with a grin.

We’ll see. Social media’s a powerful tool. So reach out.

Manny Machado as a Dodger creates a formidable foe out west for the Cubs

Manny Machado as a Dodger creates a formidable foe out west for the Cubs

Well, it's finally happening, or at least it's going to happen. The Athletics' Ken Rosenthal reported during the MLB All-Star game that the Baltimore Orioles had agreed to officially move their franchise player Manny Machado. Neither team has confirmed anything at this time, but the deal has reportedly been as close to a done deal for the last day or so, and it would seem Machado is destined for finish his 2018 campaign in Hollywood. 

Of course, with this addition, the reigning National League champions look primed for another deep postseason run. Though, the club is clinging to a half-game lead in the NL West, with Machado in tow the Dodgers are right with the Cubs and Brewers as the elite squads in the National League. It could be argued the Dodgers didn't necessarily 'need' Machado, with an offense that was already in the top 10 in runs scored, but Machado might be the perfect addition for the Dodgers. 

After losing their young star shortstop Corey Seager for the season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers were in need of a more permanent solution at shortstop. And despite Machado's defensive metrics showing a steep decline in his glove at shortstop, the Dodgers will welcome his robust slash line of .315/.387/.575 while ignoring any shortcomings on defense. 

But what this means for the Cubs, who are only two games off the 2016 World Series club pace, is the path to another championship will likely require another run-in with the Dodgers. The club's biggest threat has been at this point the Brewers, but it's not hard to envision the Dodgers distancing themselves as the clear favorites in the National League with Machado in the heart of the order.

The good news for the Chicago is at least Machado didn't end up in Milwaukee, but that also could mean the Brewers make a more concerted effort to acquire pitching before the July 30th deadline. The Cubs will also see the return of Yu Darvish, who despite only managing to win one game this season in a Cubs uniform, will be a massive upgrade over the scuffling Tyler Chatwood. If the Cubs pitching can start producing like many expected them to before the start of 2018, and guys like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant start to hit alongside All-Stars Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, it's not hard to imagine the Cubs separating themselves from the pack in the 2nd half of season. 

The Dodgers are no strangers to blockbuster deadline deals, acquiring Yu Darvish in a similar three-month rental situation, but the Cubs getting a bat like Rizzo right and an arm like Darvish healthy would be better than any deal Theo Epstein could make to improve this team. And if it's not enough, the Cubs have a solid track record of grabbing former Dodger rentals in the off-season. The push for the playoffs starts Thursday for the north-siders.