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What is going on with Tim Tebow and the Jets?

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What is going on with Tim Tebow and the Jets?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Tim Tebow would have done whatever Rex Ryan asked -- if the New York Jets coach had asked him.Ryan acknowledged Monday that Tebow wasn't happy when the coach chose Greg McElroy to start for the benched Mark Sanchez, but insisted Tebow was willing to play in any role Sunday against San Diego -- including the wildcat."He was disappointed, there's no question," Ryan said Monday. "He was disappointed that he was not named the starter, but with that being said, I'm not going to get into private conversations that I have with players, but it was my decision to use Jeremy Kerley in the wildcat, without question."But I'll say this: I believe if Tim's number was called, he would've went in and played. I don't think there's any doubt about that."A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Tebow asked out of his wildcat offense duties last week after hearing that McElroy, the third-stringer, would get his first NFL start over Tebow, listed as the No. 2 quarterback.Another person, also familiar with the situation, said that wildcat plays involving Kerley instead of Tebow were added before practice last Wednesday.Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because the Jets do not disclose personnel discussions.ESPN New York first reported that Tebow opted out of running wildcat plays. ESPN also reported that Tebow said his relationship with Ryan was "strained" for a few days, but they smoothed things over. Ryan had all three quarterbacks active for Sunday's 27-17 loss, but Tebow never got onto the field in any capacity.Ryan did not deny that Tebow asked out of running wildcat plays, but also refused to go into any details of what happened."I've been transparent and all that stuff without question, but I'm not going to give you a private conversation that I would have with a player," Ryan reiterated. "That's between him and I. If he wants to share whatever the conversation is, Tim or anybody else, then that's up to him."Ryan was also asked if it could be considered "insubordination" if a player refuses to play in a role designed for him."You guys are assuming something's a fact or whatever, and that's fine," Ryan said. "If I would have asked Tim to play in anything, Tim would have gone into the game and done that."After the game, Tebow would say only that "it just happened" that he didn't play in the wildcat package. He has done his best to hide his frustration throughout what he could consider a lost year on the playing field."Well, it's been disappointing," Tebow said of the season. "Obviously, it didn't go as we thought, as I had hoped, but sometimes in life you have that. Sometimes you have setbacks and you just have to look at them as another opportunity for you to step back up and keep working and figure out what to do."New York will either trade or release Tebow after the season, a disappointing and frustrating one-year stint with the Jets that just seems to get worse. Tebow was asked after the game if he could remember the last time he had played so little."Three or 4 years old, probably," Tebow said. "Since I started."Tebow has not played a single snap in four of the last five games, although some of that inactivity was due to him breaking two ribs at Seattle on Nov. 11. He has been cleared to play, and got a full offensive series at quarterback last Monday night at Tennessee, but Ryan confirmed that Tebow "still has two cracked ribs."The Jets (6-9) were eliminated last week with their loss to the Titans, and Ryan announced after the game against San Diego that McElroy -- despite being sacked 11 times -- would start in the season finale at Buffalo. Whether Tebow actually plays in that game or has taken his last snap with the Jets remains to be seen.Tebow was acquired from Denver in a stunning trade last March and expected to be a major contributor to the offense. He has been only a role player -- whenever he actually plays."I thought we'd do some better things out of that wildcat," Ryan said. "It hasn't happened. I'm not blaming it on Tim Tebow. I'm sure there's multiple reasons, but for whatever reason, it has not had the results that I envisioned for it."Some reports have Jacksonville interested in bringing Tebow in to compete for its quarterback job next season. The Jaguars were the only team other than the Jets that tried to trade for Tebow last year, plus it would be a homecoming for Tebow if he played in Jacksonville."I'm not pulling the tampering thing," Ryan said. "Tim's under contract with us and that's all I know."Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey told Jacksonville reporters that he wasn't aware of reports that his team looked into pursuing Tebow before the trade deadline earlier this season."I am not going to talk about that," he added. "I don't talk about other players on other teams right now."NOTES:Ryan was still disgusted by how many times McElroy was sacked by the Chargers on Sunday. "The 11 sacks and all that, that's as poor as I can ever remember as far as the pass protection was concerned," he said. It was the most a Jets QB was sacked since David Norrie in 1987 against Dallas -- a game played by replacements. ... The Jets waived WR Mardy Gilyard, who had two catches for 15 yards in three games for New York.

White Sox in the thick of it as AL Central race with Indians, Twins heats up

White Sox in the thick of it as AL Central race with Indians, Twins heats up

This AL Central race is going to be fun.

It looked like the Minnesota Twins might have blitzed right past the White Sox in the season’s first weekend, issuing a 14-2 clubbing on their way out of Chicago in the decisive third game of that series. The White Sox went on to Northeast Ohio and dropped the first two of that three-game set against the Cleveland Indians, and a 1-4 start threw some chilly Great Lakes water on the preseason thought of the South Siders running with the class of the division in this season’s 60-game sprint to October.

But the White Sox turned their 1-4 start around with a six-game win streak. And after a 2-0 nail-biter of a win over the Indians on Friday night that reshuffled the standings, the Pale Hose have now won their last five games against division foes, including a pair against these Clevelanders.

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The intensity’s been there all week. After a sweep of the Kansas City Royals, the first three of the White Sox four games against the Milwaukee Brewers had a distinct playoff-style feel to them, well pitched, closely decided contests that struck as the most intense games the White Sox have played in years.

Be it the compressed nature of this season’s schedule or the fact that these White Sox are finally equipped to compete for a division title, this is unlike anything that’s graced the South Side in some time.

“We're treating every game like a must-win,” White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease said Friday night. “These games definitely don't have the same feeling as Game 15 of a 162-game season. We're coming to the ballpark to win every day."

When it comes to the Twins, atop the Central standings with 10 wins — one of only two major league squads to hit double digits to this point, even with back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Royals — it seems the White Sox will have to win a few more home run derbies the likes of which we saw in that opening weekend.

But runs have been somewhat scarce for the White Sox after they scored a combined 20 runs and banged out a total of 35 hits in winning the final two games of that series last weekend in Kansas City. They’ve scored just eight times in their last four games combined. There’s more than one way to win a game, of course, and as injuries continue to make the White Sox dugout look like the Tune Squad bench late in that game against the Monstars, the South Siders have figured out a few others besides blowing up the scoreboard.

Friday night’s playoff feel brought the Indians’ sensational pitching staff to Guaranteed Rate Field, and Aaron Civale was just about as good as he was against the White Sox last week in Cleveland. He didn’t pile up the strikeouts this time, but he still pitched seven innings of one-run ball, the lone run he gave up coming home on a first-inning double-play grounder.

Cease, somewhat miraculously, countered with five shutout innings of his own despite putting nearly the entire city of Cleveland on base. He walked five guys, including issuing four leadoff walks, hit another and allowed a couple of hits. Thankfully for Cease and the White Sox, though, he also came up with multiple clutch, inning-ending double-play balls, and the defense was excellent behind him and a trio of relievers, the first two of which had as much trouble keeping the bases clear as Cease did.

You want playoff-style drama? Scatter the bases with potential runs every inning and watch the pitchers dance their way out of one jam after another.

RELATED: White Sox confident Eloy Jiménez will improve defense after outfield miscue

That’s not going to fly on a regular basis, obviously, but it sure made for some heart-pounding baseball, which is — as anyone who was pulling double duty with playoff hockey Friday night knows — fun.

“I can't expect those kinds of results if I'm going to have that many base runners all the time,” Cease said. “Fortunately, we were able to get out of here with a 'W,' but it's not something that's going to be sustainable. So I have to do a better job of getting ahead and not doing that.”

The onslaught of high-caliber Cleveland pitching continues the rest of the weekend, and who knows if the White Sox will be able to solve it as they barely did Friday. Zach Plesac, who stymied the White Sox with 11 strikeouts in eight shutout innings last week, is up Saturday. Then it’s a heck of a pitching matchup Sunday, with Lucas Giolito facing off against current AL Cy Young front-runner Shane Bieber, who’s struck out 35 hitters in his first three starts of the season.

That game ought to be another dandy, and with a frequently showcased rivalry between the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals waved off this weekend, the White Sox will step into the nationally televised spotlight Sunday night, the perfect spot for such a pitching matchup and a division race that’s heating up like this one is. The White Sox swapped spots with the Indians on Friday, into second place and two games back of the Twins. The Indians are just two and a half games behind the division leaders.

“Both of those teams are very good clubs,” White Sox outfielder Adam Engel said of the Twins and Indians. “Two totally different makeups, they win games differently. We have a pretty balanced attack ourselves. It’s fun playing good baseball against good teams.

“The Indians, it seems like every time they come to town or we go to Cleveland, we are facing some pretty good arms. Makes it fun. You just have to stay disciplined, stay really focused in your work. It always feels like you’re going to be part of a good baseball game.

“Those are two tough teams, and hopefully we can keep playing them well.”

RELATED: Rick Renteria: Tim Anderson, not Luis Robert, will be White Sox leadoff man

Obviously, everything’s felt different this season. There are no fans in the stands, COVID-19 is constantly threatening the completion of the campaign, and a brief ramp up to Opening Day has made for a high number of injuries across the league.

But there’s a different feeling on the South Side, too, for much more positive reasons. This team has been talking about its high expectations for months, and they’ve got a roster that looks capable of living up to them. While an expanded playoff field gives the White Sox a pretty good chance of reaching the postseason, they’ve still got their eyes on the biggest prizes, and the first one of those is the Central crown.

They’ve played just 14 games. But it sure feels like a pennant race.

“I don’t remember ever really watching scoreboards so closely as a team through the first couple of weeks in the season,” Engel said. “We come in off the field and we want to see what’s going on around the league, or we’re announcing what scores are postgame for different teams. You control what you can control, and you want to win as many games as you can. But we’re all keeping our eyes on the scoreboard, and I’m sure it’s like that league-wide.

“Everybody kind of feels like they’re in it right now, and 60 games, this is going to be a heck of a season. I’m excited that we’re playing good baseball right now. Hopefully we can keep it going.”


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Blackhawks' Corey Crawford heating up just in time for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Blackhawks' Corey Crawford heating up just in time for Stanley Cup Playoffs

The biggest storyline of Blackhawks training camp 2.0 was Corey Crawford missing the first 12 days because he had tested positive for COVID-19. He showed up on the final practice day in Chicago, which was exactly one week from the start of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Blackhawks did everything they could to get him ready for Game 1, but you knew it would take him a while to get back into top form. And it has.

In the first three games against the Oilers, Crawford allowed 13 goals on 92 shots for a save percentage of .859 and had a minus-5.68 goals saved above average, according to Natural Stat Trick, which ranked dead last among all goaltenders. 

But when the Blackhawks needed him most in Game 4, Crawford delivered. 

The two-time Stanley Cup champion turned aside 41 of 43 shots for a save percentage of .953 in Friday’s 3-2 series-clinching win against the Oilers, including all 18 in the third period, a handful of which came from high-danger areas.

"He's a huge part of our team and he played real well today," Dominik Kubalik said. "I thought he was our best player."

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To take it a step further: Crawford stopped 16 of 18 shots from the slot and had nine saves from the inner slot, which is the third-most in a game by any goaltender this postseason, according to Sportlogiq. The Oilers had an expected goals for rate of 4.33 but scored only twice, which means Crawford saved the Blackhawks 2.33 goals.

It was a vintage performance between the pipes for No. 50.

"Obviously it wasn't the best scenario," Crawford said of having just one week to get ramped up for the qualifying round. "I would have liked to have had a few more weeks of practice and see more pucks coming into the series. But it is what it is. I think I felt way better each game, playing each game and just seeing different scenarios and situations. Once you get more of that, just the better you feel. Tonight was obviously better."

Despite turning in a terrific outing on Friday, Crawford admitted “there’s still some work to do” before he feels like in peak form. But if he gets there in time for the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks could be a dangerous underdog team.

"I was able to kind of hide back there until I started feeling comfortable," Crawford said. "Still don't think I'm at the top of my game, but it was definitely better today."