Cubs

The latest on the Penn State sex scandal

589690.jpg

The latest on the Penn State sex scandal

From Comcast SportsNet
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State police and their counterparts in State College said they had no record of a former graduate assistant reporting a sexual assault by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on a 10-year-old boy in a campus shower, a detail that runs counter to claims made in an email to former teammates. The police response to Mike McQueary's claim that he reported the alleged assault came shortly after a lawyer said Wednesday that he had a client who would testify that he was sexually abused by Sandusky, who is accused of abusing eight boys, some on campus, over 15 years. "I am appalled by the fact that Mr. Sandusky has elected to re-victimize these young men at a time when they should be healing," Harrisburg attorney Ben Andreozzi said in a statement released by his office. "He fully intends to testify that he was severely sexually assaulted by Mr. Sandusky." The client is not the same boy McQueary told a grand jury he saw being sexually assaulted by Sandusky in a shower on university property in 2002. McQueary, who is now an assistant coach but has been placed on administrative leave, wrote in the email given to The Associated Press that he had "discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police" about what he saw. In the email, McQueary did not specify whether he spoke to campus or State College police. State College borough police Chief Tom King said McQueary didn't make a report to his department. Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said campus police also didn't have any record of a report filed in 2002 by McQueary. Mountz noted that the 23-page grand jury report was the state attorney general's summary of testimony, so it's unclear what McQueary's full testimony was. McQueary and a law firm representing him did not return phone calls Wednesday. Pennsylvania lawmakers are starting to plan for a special commission that will examine the legal issues raised by the child sex-abuse scandal, which has raised questions both ethical and criminal about why allegations of abuse went unreported for so long. The scandal has resulted in the ousting of school President Graham Spanier and longtime coach Joe Paterno, and has brought shame to one of college football's legendary programs. Athletic Director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave, and Vice President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university's police department, has stepped down. Schultz and Curley are charged with lying to the grand jury and failure to report to police, and Sandusky is charged with child sex abuse. All maintain their innocence. The commission being set up by Pennsylvania lawmakers will consider changes to state law in the wake of the scandal. The plan was described as being in the planning stage, including meetings of leaders and their aides. Topics are likely to include mandatory reporting of suspected abuse, and the legal definition of child abuse, said Senate Democratic spokeswoman Lisa Scullin. Sandusky's lawyer, Joe Amendola, appeared with him on NBC's "Rock Center" on Monday night and cast doubt on the evidence in the case. "We anticipate we're going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say, This never happened. This is me. This is the allegation. It never occurred,'" Amendola said. Sandusky, 67, appeared on the show by phone and said he had showered with boys but never molested them. It remains unclear how many accusers have surfaced more than a week after state police and the attorney general's office said at a news conference they were seeking additional potential victims and witnesses. Andreozzi said he has his "finger on the pulse" of the case and knows of no accusers changing their stories or refusing to testify. "To the contrary, others are actually coming forward, and I will have more information for you later this week," Andreozzi said. State police spokeswoman Maria Finn said investigators have told her that published accounts reporting how many people have come forward are inaccurate and they are not disclosing their internal figures. Some plaintiffs' lawyers are starting to advertise on their websites for potential Sandusky victims, vowing to get justice. Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., attorney, has long represented clergy abuse victims and told The Associated Press that he has been retained by several people he described as Sandusky victims. "There's a great deal of fury and confusion," particularly because Sandusky is free on bail, Anderson said. "Getting (them) help and cooperating with law enforcement is our first priority." The "time for reckoning," in the form of civil lawsuits, will come later, Anderson said. Anderson declined to say whether his clients are among the eight boys who were labeled as victims in the grand jury report. A new judge has been assigned to handle the charges against Sandusky. The change removed a State College judge with ties to a charity founded by Sandusky for at-risk children, The Second Mile. Sandusky is due in court on Dec. 7, and a Westmoreland County senior district judge will preside over his preliminary hearing. Robert E. Scott is taking over the hearing from Centre County District Judge Leslie Dutchcot. Dutchcot has donated money to The Second Mile, where authorities say Sandusky met his victims. The office said Scott has no known ties to Penn State or The Second Mile. In State College, Penn State announced that David M. Joyner, a physician and member of its board of trustees who played football and wrestled for the school, will serve as acting athletic director, replacing Curley on an interim basis. New details have also emerged about how the case ended up in the hands of the state attorney general's office. Former Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira said that his wife's brother was Sandusky's adopted son. "I reviewed it, and I made the decision it needed to be investigated further," Madeira said. "But the apparent conflict of interest created an impediment for me to make those kinds of decisions."

Cubs still waiting for Willson Contreras' offense to take off, but they know it's coming

Cubs still waiting for Willson Contreras' offense to take off, but they know it's coming

If every Major League Baseball player was thrown into a draft pool in a fantasy-type format, Willson Contreras may be the first catcher taken.

Joe Maddon and the Cubs certainly wouldn't take anybody else over "Willy."

The Cubs skipper said as much in late-May, placing Contreras' value above guys like Buster Posey, Gary Sanchez and Yadier Molina based on age, athleticism, arm, blocking, intelligence, energy and offensive prowess.
 
Contreras strikes out more, doesn't hit for as high of an average and doesn't yet have the leadership ability of Posey, but he's also 5 years younger than the Giants catcher. Molina is possibly destined for the Hall of Fame, but he's also 35 and the twilight of his career is emerging. Sanchez is a better hitter with more power currently than Contreras, but a worse fielder.

Remember, Contreras has been in the big leagues for barely 2 years total — the anniversary of his first at-bat came earlier this week:

All that being said, the Cubs are still waiting for Contreras to display that type of complete player in 2018.

He's thrown out 11-of-32 would-be basestealers and the Cubs love the way he's improved behind the plate at calling the game, blocking balls in the dirt and working with the pitcher. They still see some room for improvement with pitch-framing, but that's not suprising given he's only been catching full-time since 2013.

Offensively, Contreras woke up Saturday morning with a .262 batting average and .354 on-base percentage (which are both in line with his career .274/.356 line), but his slugging (.412) is way down compared to his career .472 mark.

He already has 14 doubles (career high in a season was 21 last year) and a career-best 4 triples, but also only 4 homers — 3 of which came in a 2-game stretch against the White Sox on May 11-12.

So where's the power?

"He's just not been hitting the ball as hard," Maddon said. "It's there, he's gonna be fine. Might be just getting a little bit long with his swing. I think that's what I'm seeing more than anything.

"But I have so much faith in him. It was more to the middle of last year that he really took off. That just might be his DNA — slower start, finish fast.

"Without getting hurt last year, I thought he was gonna get his 100 RBIs. So I'm not worried about him. It will come. He's always hit, he can hit, he's strong, he's healthy, he's well, so it's just a patience situation."

The hot streak Maddon is talking about from last season actually began on June 16 and extended to Aug. 9, the date Contreras pulled his hamstring and went to the disabled list for the next month.

In that 45-game span (40 starts) in the middle of 2017, Contreras hit .313/.381/.669 (1.050 OPS) with 16 homers and 45 RBI.

It looked like the 26-year-old catcher may be getting on one of those hot streaks back in mid-May when he clobbered the Marlins, White Sox and Braves pitching staffs to the tune of a .500 average, 1.780 OPS, 3 homers and 11 RBI in a week's worth of action.

But in the month since, Contreras has only 3 extra-base hits and no homers, driving in just 4 runs in 29 games (26 starts) while spending most of his time hitting behind Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

What's been the difference?

"I think it's honestly just the playing baseball part of the game," Contreras said. "You're gonna go through your ups and downs, but I definitely do feel like I've been putting in the work and about ready to take off to be able to help the team."

Contreras admitted he's been focused more on his work behind the plate this season, trying to manage the pitching staff, consume all the scouting reports and work on calling the game. He's still trying to figure out how to perfectly separate that area of his game with his at-bats.

"With my defense and calling games, that's one way that I'm able to help the team right now," Contreras said. "And as soon as my bat heats up, we're gonna be able to take off even more."

On the latest round of National League All-Star voting, Contreras was behind Posey among catchers. The Cubs backstop said he would be honored to go to Washington D.C. next month, but also understands he needs to show more of what he's capable of at the plate.

"If I go, I go," he said. "Honestly, it's not something that I'm really focusing on right now. ... I do think I've been pretty consistent in terms of my average and on-base percentage and helping create situations and keep the line moving, at least.

"But right now, I know my bat hasn't been super consistent so far. It would be a great opportunity and I'd thank the fans."

As a whole, the Cubs have been hitting fewer home runs this season compared to last year. Under new hitting coach Chili Davis, they're prioritizing contact and using the whole field over power and pulling the ball.

Contreras has a 19.3 percent strikeout rate — the lowest of his brief big-league career — while still holding a 9.6 percent walk rate, in line with his career mark (9.9 percent).

Thanks to improved defense, Contreras still boasts a 1.6 WAR (FanGraphs) despite the low power output to this point. Posey (1.7 WAR) is the only catcher in baseball more valuable to his team.

Just wait until his power shows up.

"He hasn't even taken off yet," Maddon said. "He's gonna really take off. Remember last year how hot he got in the second half? That's gonna happen again. You see the pickoffs, what he does behind the plate, how he controls the running game — he's a different cat.

"And he's gonna keep getting better. He's not even at that level of consistency that I think you're gonna get out of him. Great athlete, runs well, does a lot of things well, but it does not surprise me that he's [second in NL All-Star voting at catcher] with Posey."

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Andrew Porter, Ron Rivera, Chris Lewis, Ryan McGuire and Clint Connelly

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Astros lost to Marmion Academy in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Leyden

Sept. 1 @ Stagg

Sept 7 vs Hillcrest

Sept. 14 vs Eisenhower

Sept. 21 @ Richards

Sept. 28 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 5 vs Reavis

Oct. 12 vs Evergreen Park

Oct. 19 @ Argo

Biggest storyline: First-year head coach John Rone. Can the Astros challenge once again for the South Suburban Red conference title under a new head coach?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Chris Harrison and TE/DE Kevin Graham

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros bring back 10 returning starters (five offense, five defense). Overall depth could also be a concern.  

EDGY's Early Take: Shepard will be led by former Eisenhower assistant Rone, who was able to retain an experienced staff at Shepard. It will help ease the transition from former head coach Dominic Passolano this summer. If the Astros can get off to a good early start they have the overall talent to again make a state playoff appearance in 2018. Can they challenge conference power Richards in the South Suburban Red race?