Blackhawks

Magic Johnson's Dodgers open with a win

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Magic Johnson's Dodgers open with a win

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- It was a Magic start to the season for everyone with the Los Angeles Dodgers except for reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who was too sick to go longer than three innings on opening day. With incoming and outgoing owners Magic Johnson and Frank McCourt watching from next to the dugout, the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 5-3 Thursday. Johnson, the former Lakers great who is part of a group buying the Dodgers from McCourt for 2.15 billion, had a big smile after Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer in the eighth, giving him three RBIs. "It was kind of cool -- right when I came back from hitting the home run, he stuck his head in the dugout and said, Nice job, kid,'" Kemp said. "I was like, Hey, it's Magic Johnson right there, man.' It's good to have him around and good to see him. That was a little motivation right there. I was pretty pumped up for that. It was a good day all around. Good W." Johnson and McCourt sat next to each other and chatted throughout the game. Johnson didn't comment as he was quickly whisked out of the ballpark in an SUV. Kershaw left with the stomach flu after limiting the Padres to two hits through three innings. He struck out three, walked one and singled off newcomer Edinson Volquez in the third for the Dodgers' first hit of the season. Manager Don Mattingly said he saw Kershaw lying down in the tunnel behind the dugout after the third. "It's not a real good sign when your starting pitcher was laying down," Mattingly said. Mattingly said he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt discussed holding out Kershaw. "He wanted to go," the manager said. "He wasn't dizzy or didn't have a fever or any of that kind of stuff, so it was one of those situations where he wanted to go. "I'm sure (the Padres) were looking for a lot more out there on opening day," Mattingly added. "His fastball probably looked more like some type of a changeup or something. Basically he was trying to get quick innings, get through them, get off the field, try to survive inning by inning. Pretty impressive, really, that he gets that far." Said Padres manager Bud Black: "It's nice to get him out of the game, thinking the Cy Young Award winner is out and you have six innings to go score runs." Josh Lindblom (1-0) pitched two perfect innings in relief of Kershaw. Javy Guerra pitched the ninth for the save. It was a poor start for the Padres. Volquez walked in L.A's first two runs in the fourth inning and the Padres committed three errors, two of which led to the Dodgers' third run. Volquez (0-1), Cincinnati's opening-day starter a year ago, struck out five through three scoreless innings and singled off Kershaw in the third for the Padres' first hit. He then allowed two runs on four walks, including three in a row, and two singles in the fourth. Volquez loaded the bases with one out before walking James Loney. Andre Ethier was called out trying to score on a wild pitch, but replays showed he touched the plate just before Volquez tagged him. Volquez again loaded the bases, and then walked A.J. Ellis. "I lost my control a little bit in the fourth," Volquez said. "I got lucky to get out of there with two runs. I thought I made some good pitches for strikes and they were called balls." A half-inning earlier, the Padres loaded the bases with two outs against Kershaw before Chase Headley took a called third strike. Volquez went five, allowing three runs, two earned, and three hits. He struck out seven and walked four. Dee Gordon led off the Dodgers' fifth with a fly ball to center that glanced off Cameron Maybin's glove for a three-base error. With one out, Gordon scored when shortstop Jason Bartlett booted Kemp's grounder. Kemp hit a drive to right off Brad Brach in the eighth, making it 5-1. Brach was recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A. San Diego's Jesus Guzman hit an RBI double off Mike MacDougal in the sixth and Maybin had a two-run homer to left off Kenley Jansen in the eighth that was estimated at 445 feet. NOTES: The Padres placed RHP Tim Stauffer on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday, with a strained pitching elbow. Stauffer had been expected to start the season opener before he experienced soreness in his arm. To take Stauffer's roster spot, Brach was recalled from Tucson. ... The four-game series continues Friday night, when the scheduled starters are Chad Billingsley for the Dodgers and Cory Luebke for the Padres. ... Jerry Coleman, celebrating his 70th year in baseball and his 40th with the Padres, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The longtime broadcaster played second base for the New York Yankees for nine seasons and managed the Padres in 1980.

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

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USA TODAY

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

The NHL Draft is over. Farm systems have been restocked and now the focus has shifted to free agency, where the fun is just beginning.

The biggest fish on the market is John Tavares, a franchise-changing center in the heart of his prime. For a little bit, it seemed like the loyal New York Islanders captain was ready to move on after they took another step back by missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

But then Lou Lamiorello became available and was snatched up by Long Island. His first order of business was relieving GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties, the first real sign that significant changes were coming. The next was securing Barry Trotz as head coach after he couldn't agree to terms on an extension with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

For the first time in a while, there appears to be structure in the front office and coaching staff.

Yet, Tavares has remained committed to visiting with reportedly five teams in Los Angeles during the free agent negotiating window that opened Sunday. And he's absolutely earned that right. San Jose and Toronto are believed to be two of the teams. The rest is unclear.

When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle at the end of the draft on Saturday, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wouldn't confirm nor deny that they were one of the teams scheduled to meet with Tavares.

"I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile.

Whether or not they are, could the Blackhawks realistically even make it work?

They actually have the cap space to do it. Or at least they can make room without shuffling too many cards.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have $9.225 million in open cap space to fill out six roster spots. If you can find a trade partner for Marian Hossa's contract, that creates an extra $5.275 million, which brings the total up to $14.5 million. That's without subtracting any real bodies from the roster. 

Tavares is likely to command in the $10 million range for average annual value over the next seven years, and the latter part is key. While it would certainly be challenging to have three players eating up at least $10 million each in cap space — with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at $10.5 million — they could make it work in the short term.

But signing Tavares to a seven-year deal would probably get in the way of the Blackhawks' longer-term goals, which includes re-signing Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz when their entry-level deals expire and even Vinnie Hinostroza when his new two-year contract ends.

Are the Blackhawks willing to risk that?

For Tavares, maybe. But Toews is 30, Kane is 29 and Tavares will be 28 by the time this upcoming season starts. At some point, an infusion of youth would be required to remain competitive for the long term.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 18th homer of June and 31st of the season came off the Tigers in the Cubs' brief 2-game Interleague series in Detroit. 

Sosa connected in the first inning off Tigers starter Seth Greisinger, going back-to-back with Mickey Morandini. 

The Cubs wound up getting out to a 5-0 start in the game but still lost 7-6 on a Gabe Alvarez single in the bottom of the 11th.

The aforementioned Morandini homer was only the 3rd of the season for the Cubs second baseman. He finished with 8 homers on the year and 224 total bases on 172 hits in what was a very good offensive season. Yet it paled in comparison to Sosa, who had nearly 200 more total bases (416) and a slugging percentage nearly 200 points above Morandini's (.647 to .471), a testament to how truly incredible Sosa's season was.

Fun fact: Tony Clark was the Tigers' cleanup hitter that day. Clark is now the head of the MLB Players Union.

Fun fact No. 2: Paul Bako was the Detroit catcher in the game. He later became the Cubs backup catcher in 2003 and 2004, when he posted a .611 OPS in 119 games over the two years.