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Batter up: Russell Wilson will return to Yankees spring training

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USA Today Images

Batter up: Russell Wilson will return to Yankees spring training

It’s time for Russell Wilson to dust off those baseball cleats: the Seattle Seahawks quarterback is stealing second base again.

Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, told the MLB Network Radio this week that the Super Bowl champion quarterback will report to spring training for the second-straight year in a New York Yankees uniform.

Russell Wilson plays…baseball?

Prior to being selected by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson played second base at North Carolina State before being drafted by the Colorado Rockies, where he spent two seasons.

From 2010-11, Wilson logged 379 total plate appearances in the Class A Advanced level, logging a .229 average, five home runs, and 19 stolen bases, according to MLB.com.

He was acquired from the Rockies by the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 draft, and traded to the New York in 2018, where he finally fulfilled his dream of wearing a Yankees uniform.

During his first spring training at-bat, Wilson struck out on a left-hander from Braves pitcher Max Fried.

Staying connected to baseball

While Wilson has become a star on the gridiron, he has stayed involved with the baseball community. Recently, he became an investor in the Portland Diamond Project, a group committed to bring a Major League Baseball franchise to the Rose City. 

The project settled on the Terminal 2 site as the future home for Major League Baseball in Portland last month, but the movement is still stuck on first base.

The group will need to lure a franchise to the City of Roses or Major League Baseball will need to grant the city an expansion team in order for Portland to join the 32-team league.

Great Odin's Raven! Could Ron Burgundy be NHL Seattle's play-by-play broadcaster?

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NHL

Great Odin's Raven! Could Ron Burgundy be NHL Seattle's play-by-play broadcaster?

Renovations are underway at KeyArena for the eventual home of Seattle’s NHL Team.

While seat removal, relocation of power lines and hard demolition of the arena are taking place, it appears the NHL Seattle franchise could have a lead on its first play-by-play broadcaster as well.

Legendary anchor Ron Burgundy of “Anchorman” called the LA Kings-San Jose Sharks game on Thursday and son of a bee-sting, it was fantastic.

So impressive, Seattle is pursuing Burgundy as a color commentator for its new franchise, which will drop the first hockey puck in 2021.

“Hey Ron, we might have a play-by-play position opening up,” the franchise said in a post on Twitter.

On the Kings-Sharks broadcast, Burgundy kissed a burrito on the Kiss Cam and chanted “put that baby to bed without a diaper,” as shots were taken on the ice.

While the Emerald City has a solid candidate for its play-by-play broadcaster opening, Seattle’s future NHL franchise still remains nameless.

Kraken, Metropolitans and Sockeyes are still in the mix as possible names for the 32nd franchise, but team CEO and President Tod Leiweke said the team will likely make their decision in the middle of 2019.

Seattle’s expansion franchise will take the ice at the newly-improved KeyArena beginning 2021. 

Blazer5 Gaming sets roster for Season 2

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USA TODAY

Blazer5 Gaming sets roster for Season 2

Season 2 of the NBA 2K League is upon us, kicking off with a giant draft night event at Brooklyn's Barclays Centers on Wednesday. For those of you that don't remember, the Blazers 2K team, known as Blazer5 Gaming, was one of the best teams in the league last season. 

Blazer5 made it to the finals of The Tipoff tournament to kick off the season, but fell just short of winning. However, they bounced back later in the year winning The Turn championship and continued a run of dominance that netted them the No.1 overall seed in the playoffs.

With league MVP Dayne Downey (OneWildWalnut) and team captain Nidal Nasser (Mama Im Dat Man) running the show Blazer5 looked to bring home the inaugural league championship. However, Knicks Gaming pulled off the biggest upset in the history of the young league when they knocked out the No.1 seed in the first round of the playoffs. 

But that was last season. This is now. Three players from last season's roster were retained by Blazer5: OneWildWalnut, Mama Im Dat Man, and Andron Thomas (Lavish_Phenom). Added to that trio this offseason was Matthew Hofmann (KinG PeroXide) via an early October trade with Bucks Gaming. 

In Wednesday's draft, the team added two more pieces to fill out its roster: one league rookie and one familiar face. Blazer5 used the 36th pick in the draft to select David Urena (Too Cool), a talented power forward. They later used the 71st pick to select Jomar Varela-Escapa (Jomar12_PR).  If Jomar12_PR sounds familiar, it's because he was a member of Blazers5 gaming last season.  He was not retained at seasons end, thus re-entered the draft pool. 

Tool Cool will likely fill the void of the departed Connor Rodrigues (Dat Boy Shots), who was selected by Hawks Talon GC with the first pick in the expansion draft in September. Too Cool has big shoes to fill. Dat Boy Shots was a key contributor for Blazer5 last season, averaging 19.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. 

Last year's starting shooting guard Grant Barker (GRANT MONSTER) was not retained at season's end and was selected by Mavs Gaming in the draft. His starting role will likely go to the newly acquired KinG PeroXide. King PeroXide averaged 13.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists last season; a 6.6ppg, 2.5rpg, and 2.1apg improvement over GRANT MONSTER. 

With Tool Cool and KinG PeroXide added to a solid group of Blazer5 vets, the squad hopes to bounce back from last year's disappointing showing in the playoffs and build off the success of the inaugural season. Can Blazer5 bring home a championship? We will find out when Season 2 tips off on April 2. 

Portland Diamond Project Q&A: What's new with MLB to PDX

Portland Diamond Project Q&A: What's new with MLB to PDX

Craig Cheek, President and Managing Director of the Portland Diamond Project, took over the PDXDiamondProj's social media account on Monday to talk MLB to PDX. 

Here’s a wrap-up of what Cheek, a former vice president at Nike who oversaw training, baseball and football operations, had to share from today’s Twitter Q&A.

On when the project will break ground: 

On when the Portland Diamond Project hopes the first home opener will take place:

On how likely MLB to PDX will happen on a scale of 1-100:

On potential transportation options to the ballpark:

On whether fans will be able to use boat transportation to access the ballpark:

On whether the stadium will be a hitters or pitchers park:

On potential sites for MLB spring training: 

On how Mariners fans will be accomodated in Portland:

On obstacles left to face: 

To stay tuned to all of the latest updates, head on over to @PDXDiamondProj on Twitter.

The MLB expansion could bring the Seattle vs. Portland I-5 rivalry to new heights

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portland diamond project

The MLB expansion could bring the Seattle vs. Portland I-5 rivalry to new heights

If you have ever been to a San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game, you may have noticed the intense rivalry feeling with the “beat L.A.” chants ringing in your ears.

Now imagine a similar feeling when attending the future I-5 rivalry between the Seattle Mariners and Portland…

The time can’t come soon enough. But let’s take a look at how the proposed MLB expansion from 30 to 32 teams will actually effect the league. 

According to Axios writer Kendall Baker, who was reminded from an article published one year ago, that an expansion would most likely bring new structure to the league, and more specifically dividing the 32 teams up into four divisions rather than just the American and National league.

"One proposal would be to geographically restructure into four divisions, which would create a major reduction in travel ... and add to the natural rivalries by not just having them as inter-league attractions, but rather a part of the regular divisional battles." (It would also likely mean every team would use a DH.)

Assuming that Portland and Montreal (the other location rumored to be a part of the MLB expansion) are in, let’s see the teams that would be listed in each division: East, North, Midwest, and West:

East: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals.

North: Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Montreal (Expos?), New York Yankees, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays.

Midwest: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royal, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers.

West: Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, Portland, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners.

So rather than the six divisions (AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East, NL Central, and NL West), the league would have just four, limited long travel, and the space for rivalries to grow.   

 

Edgar Martinez voted into National Baseball Hall of Fame in final year of eligibility

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USA Today Images

Edgar Martinez voted into National Baseball Hall of Fame in final year of eligibility

Edgar Martinez has waited years for this moment. But after nine years awaiting his call from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Seattle Mariners standout doesn’t have to wait any longer.

Martinez was finally honored on Tuesday as Major League Baseball announced his induction into the Hall of Fame during his 10th and final year of eligibility on the ballot.

Prior to the Hall’s announcement, Martinez had more than 90.8 percent in the results from 217 known ballots. He was named on 77.3 percent of the votes in 2018, but finished with 70.4 percent in the final balloting, just 20 votes shy of election.

On Tuesday, Martinez finished with 363 votes, approximately 85.4 percent of the 425 ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. 

Martinez, 53, joins 2014 inductee Frank Thomas as the only players in the Hall of Fame to play the majority of their games as a designated hitter.

In his 18 seasons with Seattle, Martinez hit .312 with 309 home runs. Despite not having a full-time spot in the lineup until 27, he amassed 2,247 hits, 1,219 runs, 514 doubles, 1,261 RBI and 1,283 walks in 2,055 career games. The Mariners legend also won batting titles in 1992 and 1995, was named to the All-Star game seven times and was inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame in 2007. 

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, and Orioles and Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina were also selected to the Hall of Fame of the 35 players eligible. 

NHL unveils plans for All-Star Game and Draft in Seattle

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NBCS Northwest

NHL unveils plans for All-Star Game and Draft in Seattle

Mark your calendars: the NHL Draft and All-Star Game are coming to Seattle.

In a press conference on Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters the league has already begun planning an All-Star game in the Emerald City.

“We’ve promised an All-Star Game to Seattle within seven years of playing,” Bettman said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to wait seven years. We’ve got to look at the scheduling, both ours and in terms of the city’s availability, to host all of our guests, hotels and everything. But we’re going to be bringing league events here.

“This is where we want to be.”

The news only gets better, as the league said it’s also exploring an appropriate time to bring the NHL Draft to Seattle.

“We need to have an expansion draft, so we’re looking at the possibilities.” Bettman said. “The draft, I’d guess, will be sooner than the All-Star game.”

This is exciting news for hockey fans in the Puget Sound, who found out less than a month ago that Seattle had been awarded the league’s 32nd franchise, which will begin playing in a remodeled KeyArena during the 2021-22 season. 

The jury is still out, however, on Seattle’s franchise name. While the Sockeyes, Metropolitans and Kraken are still in the mix, the NHL Seattle leadership team says they will take their time finding the right identity for the franchise. 

NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke says that in 60 days, the group will roll out a portal for depositors, which gives them the opportunity to weigh in on important items such as the team names.

“Their fingerprints are going to be all over this franchise,” Leiweke says. “At the end of the day, they are the people that gave wind to this franchise. In that process, we absolutely get the team name and I would expect sometime in 2019 we roll that out.”

Seattle’s expansion franchise will take the ice at the newly-improved KeyArena beginning 2021. 

Portland Diamond Project Q&A: The latest MLB to PDX news

Portland Diamond Project Q&A: The latest MLB to PDX news

Eight-year major leaguer Darwin Barney took over the Portland Diamond Project social media account this week to catch baseball fans up to speed with the latest on MLB to PDX.

Here’s a wrap-up of what Barney, who is an investor and advisor for the project, had to share from today’s Twitter Q&A.

On whether Portland would get an AL team, meaning a Portland-Seattle rivalry:

On which team would be most likely to relocate to Portland: 

On whether Barney could play for Portland's new team:

On whether MLB to PDX is for real: 

On who would likely be memorialized for the first bobble-head giveaway:

On what kind of beer will be served at the park: 

On what's next for the project: 

To stay tuned to all of the latest updates, head on over to @PDXDiamondProj on Twitter. 

Portland Diamond Project Q&A: What new with MLB to PDX?

Portland Diamond Project Q&A: What new with MLB to PDX?

Now that the Portland Diamond Project has signed an agreement in principle for a state-of-the-art ballpark, Major League Baseball to Portland is one step closer to becoming a reality. 

To catch baseball fans up with latest news, former Trail Blazers broadcaster and managing partner, Mike Barrett, took to Twitter to answer a few of your questions.

Here's a wrap-up of Tuesday's Q&A: 

On whether an expansion or relocation is more likely: 

 

On Barrett serving as one of the team's broadcasters:

On potential names for the team: 

On whether the stadium includes a retractable roof: 

On what transportation will look like around the stadium: 

On what keeps excites Barrett most about the Portland Diamond Project: 

To stay tuned to all of the latest updates, head on over to @PDXDiamondProj on Twitter. 

Seattle becomes home to second-chance XFL team

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USA Today Images

Seattle becomes home to second-chance XFL team

Just one day after the NHL announced the city of Seattle has been awarded an expansion franchise, the Emerald City received more exciting news.

The XFL is coming to CenturyLink Field.

XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck announced that Seattle was selected as one of eight franchises in the new professional football league. Seattle joins New York, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Washington D.C., and St. Louis as the league's inaugural cities. 

The XFL lasted one year in 2001 until its rebirth Wednesday. Vince McMahon, former CEO of WWE, founded the XFL during its initial run.

McMahon shared news of the XFL’s revival earlier this year, making it clear the revamped league would share no similarities to the 2001 league other than a name.

The second edition of the XFL will feature a 40-man roster with athletes who are focused on “good football” rather than politics, and players with no criminal records. The league will also give athletes an opportunity to keep their talents in the U.S. rather than head to the CFL.

Why is the XFL intriguing for fans in Seattle? Not only will football fanatics be able to keep watching their favorite sport beyond the NFL season, the XFL will likely provide fans with a more affordable alternative for family entertainment.

Games will begin the weekend of Feb 8, 2020.