Orioles

Big 12 wants NCAA to allow conference title game

Big 12 wants NCAA to allow conference title game

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says the league likely will seek permission from the NCAA to hold a championship game even though it doesn't have the 12 members required under the current rules.

Down to 10 members after the departure of Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M in recent years, the Big 12 was forced to do without a championship game the last two seasons. Kansas State and Oklahoma tied for the championship with matching 8-1 records in conference play last season, and the Wildcats earned the automatic BCS berth after winning the head-to-head matchup.

Oklahoma got left out of the BCS when Northern Illinois made a late charge up the standings.

Bowlsby had said before this week's Big 12 athletic directors' meetings in Dallas that he expected the topic of pursuing the return of a championship game to come up. With shifting membership, Big Ten and Pac-12 added conference title games in recent years. The SEC and ACC already had them.

``At a time when lots of deregulation is taking place, it seems a little bit odd that the NCAA would be describing how we determine our champions,'' Bowlsby said Wednesday night, when he watched the Iowa State-Oklahoma State men's basketball game.

``I think it's reasonable to say if you're going to have a champion that you're going to have to designate it in one fashion or another. But to say it has to be between 12 schools or that there has to be divisional play or there has to be a round-robin, we're deregulating lots of things and that certainly is a candidate.''

As he has done repeatedly, Bowlsby reiterated that the league is comfortable with proceeding forward with 10 members because conference members are receiving high payouts per school and pleased with their access to the postseason.

``We are unconvinced at this point that larger is better,'' Bowlsby said.

While the league is not currently considering expansion, Bowlsby said it was looking at working with other conferences for partnerships on such things as strengthening nonconference schedules in football and men's basketball.

``One of the things we know is that the months of October and November in the football season are about as good of sports as you're going to get. Every game is important and every weekend is something exciting. The month of September is not necessarily that way,'' he said. ``It gives us a way to fortify our nonconference schedule in some important ways, too.''

He said that could also mean more marquee nonconference games outside of the first month of the football season.

``We, as a rule, haven't played very many nonconference games after the first of October,'' Bowlsby said. ``And so, the thought of choreographing games into the later portion of the season is pretty interesting from a TV standpoint, too.''

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All it took for Chris Davis to break out of his slump was a letter from a Red Sox fan

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All it took for Chris Davis to break out of his slump was a letter from a Red Sox fan

Well, dang. We did not expect to need tissues for this video.

When Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was in the midst of the worst slump in Major League Baseball history, it often felt from afar like nothing could pull him out of his doldrums. It was difficult to watch Davis make the worst kind of history, knowing there was nothing fans can do to help.

Apparently, that was a mistake. All it took was a letter.

Henry Frasca, a diehard Red Sox fan, hated watching Davis struggle. So, when the O’s were in town to play his favorite team, he decided to write Davis a letter of encouragement.

The note made its way to Davis, who kept it with him. Inspired by the kind words, Davis had a breakout day at the plate, driving in four runs one his first three hits of 2019. The longtime Oriole has kept the letter with him ever since.

Frasca was unaware of the specific impact his message made, but as the Orioles returned to Fenway Park once again, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime.

This is, frankly, one of the coolest things we’ve seen in a long time. Frasca is just nine years old, but his view on the world and, specifically, helping those in need is both mature beyond his years and inspiring to the adults around him.

The most impressive part of the letter, as Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne highlights in his interview, is the idea that how Davis is playing on the field does not define the person he is off it.

It’s an insightful message, one that’s easy for even grown men and women to forget when cheering on their favorite players from afar. For someone so young, who roots for a rival team, to recognize it so early is mighty impressive.

The video is five minutes long, but well worth every second of your time. Well done to the Orioles, Thorne, Davis, and of course, Frasca most of all.

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Much to his pleasure, Max Scherzer ‘probable’ to start this week

Much to his pleasure, Max Scherzer ‘probable’ to start this week

WASHINGTON -- If you ask Max Scherzer, he is ready. Which is not an upgrade from where he was earlier in the week.

Scherzer felt well again Sunday when he woke up following his second simulation game of the week. His workload increased Saturday, his comfort remained the same and Sunday his body told him he is ready to pitch in a game for the first time since July 25. Davey Martinez agreed -- for the most part. He said Scherzer is “probable” to start Thursday in Pittsburgh.

“I feel good,” Scherzer said. “Kinda do my normal little tests, move my arm and go through the throwing motion, so I feel good. I’m basically sore today the way I should be sore, given that and all the treatment we did yesterday and throwing a sim game. Like everything feels right where it should be. There’s no extra soreness other than what I anticipated. To me, that’s right on par.”

Scherzer remains irritated he was instructed to throw a second simulation game. He understands why. It just was not his personal preference. Part of the reason is in the title of the act. “Simulation” is not reality. For instance, he warned Gerardo Parra a slider was coming in the first simulation game. “Watch your foot,” Scherzer told him out of concern for possible injury. Pitchers are not truly pitching inside during simulations because of that worry. Players could be found to stand in the box without concern of injury. However, they couldn’t competently handle a hall-of-fame pitcher. So, that’s a false test, too. Only being in a game tells the truth.

But this is what Scherzer had to deal with because of the organization managed his return slowly. They focused on the future -- both this season and beyond. Scherzer is much more concerned about the now because, in his view, his rhomboid strain is not a significant injury.

“The long-term health, that’s not even part of the equation,” Scherzer said. “We all know that’s going to be good because we’re dealing with a muscle strain. Every other structure within the back, shoulder, you name it – nothing at play here. It’s literally dealing with the muscle strain and getting through it.”

Knowing this is not a long-term injury has keyed Scherzer’s frustration with the process. He’s felt close, then ready, really close, and again ready throughout the recovery. He’s being teased by the thing he wants to do most: get back on the mound in a real game. 

“Honestly, the toughest part about this whole thing is I feel like the carrot’s right in front of my face,” Scherzer said. “That it’s such day to day that any day it could turn and you always wake up every single day thinking today’s the day that you’re going to wake up and not feel anything and you’re going to go out there and you’re going to throw it and you’re going to feel no pain whatsoever. And you go off running because it’s not a serious injury. That’s been the most frustrating part. 

“If I knew that was going to be however long this is going to take – if I was dealing with, say, a more significant injury where they say, ‘You’re not going to feel good in six weeks’ – all right, you got it. You can easily mentally check out for six weeks knowing I’m not going to be able to throw a ball in six weeks and you can build your rehab around that. That hasn’t been the case. It’s really been day to day: ‘Hey, you might be feeling good here in two days.’ That’s really been the prognosis I’ve gotten from the doctors and everybody about what I’m dealing with. 

“So for me, that’s really been the hardest part mentally. I feel like at any point in time I could be ready to get back out there and at any day everybody’s expecting that this could turn. For me, when you have that carrot right in front of your face and you want to be helping your team, that’s what’s been the most frustrating part for me mentally.”

A bullpen session Monday should be next. After that, a final step to diffuse all of Scherzer’s irritation, his competition-based combat with Martinez and the organization and exasperation with a muscle strain which derailed him for a month can come: pitch one.

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