Capitals

Jays' Dickey thrilled to join team that's 'all in'

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Jays' Dickey thrilled to join team that's 'all in'

TORONTO (AP) New Toronto ace R.A. Dickey said Tuesday he's thrilled to join a team that's ``all in'' to win the World Series and thankful the New York Mets did not meet his contract demands.

The Blue Jays formally introduced Dickey at Rogers Centre after acquiring the National League Cy Young Award winner from the Mets last month.

Dickey said the Mets helped him cultivate his knuckleball and said there is no acrimony between him and his former team, but he's glad to be moving on.

He said Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos is doing everything to win now after also acquiring All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from Miami. Dickey said if Toronto doesn't win it won't be because Anthopoulos didn't try.

``You can see that he's all in, the moves that he made,'' Dickey said. ``If we don't win, it won't be because of him.''

Anthopoulos, having a busy offseason, agreed to a $30 million, three-year contract with the 38-year-old knuckleballer after being given a 72 hour window to work out a contract as part of the trade. Dickey said even before he agreed to the terms he knew he would sign with Toronto because of all they had done.

``I immediately knew that we should be very competitive,'' Dickey said. ``I'm hoping to play 10 more years, but this could also be my last contract. And when you see that, you want to win.''

Dickey said he's looking forward to calling himself a Canadian for six months a year and reinivorgating a team that hasn't reached the playoffs since winning back-to-back World Series in 1992 and `93.

``I think this can be a special few years for this city, this country and the players,'' he said. ``I remember the glory days with Joe Carter hitting the home run against Mitch Williams.''

After going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and leading the NL with 230 strikeouts, Dickey was scheduled to earn $5.25 million next year with the Mets. At first they offered a deal adding $14 million over two years. New York later increased its offer to an additional $20 million over two years, still short of what Dickey wanted.

``I even told him this when I met him, I didn't think he got the respect he deserved,'' Anthopoulos said.

Anthopoulos said too many have overlooked Dickey's last three solid seasons. He even thinks Dickey can improve on his Cy Young season as he continues to work on mastering the knuckleball.

Dickey languished in the minors for 14 seasons and switched from conventional pitcher to full-time knuckleballer in a last-ditch effort to save his career. It took him years to finally master the floating, darting pitch, which he often throws harder (around 80 mph) and with more precision than almost anyone who used it before him.''

``The first time I really felt I could be consistent with it was late 2009,'' Dickey said. ``I still have more to learn. I'm still hungry and passionate about my craft.''

Anthopoulos called it an ``expensive'' trade because they gave up a lot of young talent, including top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and minor league right-hander Noah Syndergaard, but said you don't often get a chance to acquire a Cy Young award winner.

``Guys like this don't come around very often and they don't get traded very often,'' Anthopoulos said.

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Caps at Islanders: Ovechkin is in for final game before bye week

Caps at Islanders: Ovechkin is in for final game before bye week

The Capitals (32-11-5) head to Long Island to take on the New York Islanders (28-14-4) in the last game before the bye week. Tune in to NBC Sports Washington for all the action! Pregame coverage starts at 12 p.m. with Caps FaceOff Live followed by Caps Pregame Live bringing you up to the 1 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington after the game for postgame coverage with Caps Postgame Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here is what you need to know for Saturday's game.

Ovechkin is in

By skipping the All-Star Game, Alex Ovechkin is subject to a one-game suspension. He must serve that suspension in either the last game before the bye week or the first game back. Todd Reirden said following Thursday's game that Ovechkin will play on Saturday meaning he will miss the Jan. 27 game against the Montreal Canadiens. This should come as no surprise considering the Islanders game is a division game and the Montreal game is not.

Here are the lines based on Friday's practice:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler - Radko Gudas

Ovechkin is red-hot

It is a good thing Ovechkin is playing Saturday because he is red-hot right now. He has five goals in just the past two games and sits one behind Mario Lemieux for 10th all-time in goals.

Holtby starts

Ilya Samsonov started the last two games and played well, but with the bye week upcoming, Reirden felt it important to get Braden Holtby back in. He confirmed Friday that Holtby will be the starter.

Holtby has not registered a save percentage above .900 in six straight starts and he sits at .899 for the season. He has still managed a 18-9-4 record for the season, however. Reirden said the last two games for Samsonov allowed Holtby the chance to "reset." HIs last game was on Jan. 11 against the New Jersey Devils.

When last we met

With Holtby in net, he will have a chance to rebound after this last start against the Islanders, a tough 4-3 loss at home on New Year's Eve. He allowed four goals on 22 shots in that game.

It was a very sloppy affair, not what we are used to seeing from the typically buttoned-up Islanders defense and turnovers were a problem for both sides. Semyon Varlamov closed the door in the period, stopping a whopping 17 shots as Washington poured it on looking to tie it.

Here's a recap of the game.

Washington is 1-1-0 against the Islanders this season with the final matchup coming on Feb. 10.

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Harbaugh reflects on resting starters: 'I might go the other way' next year

Harbaugh reflects on resting starters: 'I might go the other way' next year

If the Ravens can pull off winning the AFC North division title three years in a row, their starters might be on the hook for Week 17 next time around.

In head coach John Harbaugh's season-review press conference on Friday, the Ravens leader of 12 years was asked if resting his starters in Week 17 vs Pittsburgh contributed to their AFC Divisional Round loss to the Tennesse Titans. 

"I mean, we didn't play well," he said.

Harbaugh went on to explain how he dove into the numbers of football's past in order to make decisions ahead of hosting the Steelers in their regular-season finale. The Ravens ultimately won 28-10 before two weeks off and then losing to Tennessee, 28-12.

"You look at the history, and I did that, went back and looked at the history," Coach Harbaugh said. "And the history is about 50/50. You know, teams have held their guys out and won and then won the Super Bowl. Teams have held their guys out and lost. It's gone both ways. We held our guys out and won and we won the Super Bowl [in 2012]. I was probably leaning on that in all honesty."

"Going forward after this, I might go the other way, you know?" Harbaugh offered. "Right now, if I had to do it today, and it's next year and we're in this situation, God willing we're in the same situation, we'll probably go the other way in all honesty."

Analytics can only tell you what has happened in the past, not what will happen next. A predictive guide at best, resting starters is likely best exercised as a case-by-case, team-by-team situation.

Since coming to Baltimore in 2008, Harbaugh has only been faced with this specific decision twice, establishing a 50/50 track record himself. It worked for the Ravens in 2012 as they went on to beat the 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.

It did not work in 2019. 

"The disappointment ... is that we didn't play our best football," Harbaugh continued. "That's the thing that really sticks to us. We're way better than what we played in both those games, and we're gonna have to grow from that." 

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