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Hagen wins Spink Award for baseball writing

Hagen wins Spink Award for baseball writing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Paul Hagen vividly remembers the exact day the baseball bug bit him.

It came in October 1959, when he was at school in East Aurora, N.Y., near Buffalo. His third grade teacher, Miss Fisher, asked which team he wanted to win the World Series.

``What's that?'' he asked her.

She told him it was the baseball championship, and said she was rooting for the Chicago White Sox. He took an immediate interest - and to be contrary, declared he would pull for the other team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hagen kept following the sport and on Tuesday won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for ``meritorious contributions to baseball writing.''

The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced the selection at the winter meetings. Hagen will be honored at the Hall of Fame's induction weekend July 26-29 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

``Congrats Paul Hagen, Bound for Cooperstown as the BBWAA's Spink Award winner. Truly a pleasure my friend talking baseball all these years!'' All-Star outfielder Shane Victorino tweeted.

The 61-year-old Hagen has spent nearly 40 years covering the game. He beat out Jim Hawkins and Russell Schneider in a vote by BBWAA members.

Hagen started his baseball career covering the Dodgers in 1974 for the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram. He later covered the Texas Rangers for 10 years with the Dallas Times Herald and Fort Worth Star-Telegram, then joined the Philadelphia Daily News in 1987. He worked last season for MLB.com.

``Paul has a tremendous affinity and respect for the game of baseball,'' the Phillies said in a statement. ``His incredible work ethic and consistently enjoyable writing style have served our game and its fans very well.''

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10 changes that would make the NHL better

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USA TODAY Sports

10 changes that would make the NHL better

Hockey is one of the most incredible, compelling sports in the world. As fun as it is to watch on TV, it is even more compelling in person and fans in North America are treated to the best hockey in the world as played in the NHL.

But the NHL's not perfect.

SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

Just like every sports league, the NHL is always adjusting and making changes to the game in order to improve it through things like rule changes, expansion, playoff formats, etc.

No sport is perfect and hockey is not without its flaws, but there are a number of clear changes that could be made that would improve both the game and the league.

 SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Defense

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 23, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Training camp preview—defense 

Here are some of the big topics surrounding the defense at Redskins training camp along with some of the things I’ll be observing closely when training camp gets underway on Thursday. I looked at the topics on offense yesterday

Lining up the line

Will Phil Taylor, who seems to be a long shot to make the team after they drafted two nose tackles, get some run with the first and second teams? Also, this is a young group and Jim Tomsula will have a lot of opportunities to teach. Watching him interacting with his line and going over the details of line play is fun to watch.

Spaight vs. Vigil

The two starting inside linebacker starters are safe and the team is intrigued enough by the potential of both Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaun Dion Hamilton to make them likely bets to make the 53-man roster. That leaves Zach Vigil and Martrell Spaight competing for the last ILB roster spot. 

Spaight is a known quantity who has been a mainstay on special teams since he was drafted in the fifth round in 2015. They kept him over Vigil in the cut to 53 a year ago. But last year when injuries hit, Vigil started over Spaight. In a way, this is Round 3 between the two. 

Ryan Anderson

We know what outside linebacker starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith can do. Pernell McPhee will be good for four or five sacks and perhaps a forced fumble or two. Anderson, who was the team’s second-round pick last year, is a big question mark. He played 193 snaps in 14 games, but he barely dented the stat sheet with no sacks and just 11 tackles. Anderson is a hard worker and they need him to produce.

The pieces of the cornerback puzzle

This is discussed in some detail here by JP Finlay and I’ll look at it later this week. To pick out one detail, I want to see what the rotation in the slot is. Right now the guess is that Orlando Scandrick is the starter but who will be behind him? That’s important because Scandrick has missed 25 games in the last three seasons due to injuries. 

Apke’s progress

Fourth-round safety Troy Apke displayed impressive makeup speed during offseason practices and that let him make some plays on the ball. But he needed that speed too often as he had issues in coverage. You need to be more than just fast to play in the NFL. If Apke is going to be an alternative if injury problems strike Montae Nicholson again, he needs to start making some progress while he is in Richmond. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 3
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 17
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 40

The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 48 days. 

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