Nationals

Kent State, Arkansas State in GoDaddy.com Bowl

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Kent State, Arkansas State in GoDaddy.com Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) No. 25 Kent State will meet Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in the first bowl appearance in 40 years for the Golden Flashes.

The game is played on Jan. 6, the eve of the BCS national championship game.

It's the second straight appearance in Mobile for Arkansas State, which lost 38-20 to Northern Illinois last season.

Kent State has won a program-record 11 games. The Golden Flashes are 0-2 all time in bowl games, including trips to the Refrigerator Bowl in 1954 and the Tangerine Bowl in 1972.

``With it being 40 years since our last bowl experience, it's going to be a wonderful trip for our student-athletes who are very deserving after the year they've had,'' Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen said. ``Our coaching staff, our support staff and especially our fans are excited to come to Mobile. It's also the climate that would attract northeast Ohioans in early January.''

The Golden Flashes lost to Orange Bowl-bound Northern Illinois 44-37 in double-overtime in the Mid-American Conference championship game.

Their last bowl team featured a defense that included eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert and No. 2 Alabama coach Nick Saban.

Kent State coach Darrell Hazell commented in a statement issued before the destination was announced.

``Our guys will be extremely excited to be traveling to a bowl,'' said Hazell, the MAC coach of the year. ``They will continue to work extremely hard to be ready to go, wherever we kick off.''

The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference title for the second straight year and are 9-3 under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, a former Auburn offensive coordinator.

They beat Middle Tennessee 45-0 on Saturday.

Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said the game presents ``a fantastic opportunity to play a quality opponent ranked in the top 25 and to potentially end the season as a top-25 team for the first time as an FBS member.''

Kent State is led by running backs Dri Archer (104 yards per game) and Trayion Durham (96 ypg).

Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin leads the nation's 17th-rated offense, ranking 32nd in passing yards.

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Max Scherzer, Sean Doolittle provide powerful voices during baseball’s search for answers

Max Scherzer, Sean Doolittle provide powerful voices during baseball’s search for answers

Sean Doolittle was willing to talk about it. The topic was union business. He’s focused, detailed and informed when any player-related financial topic is put in front of him. Being prepared is his process in general. Before Doolittle dispatches a thread of tweets, he reads multiple background sources, formulates his thoughts, looks for spaces that may lack clarity when dispatched in public.

On this particular topic, back in spring training when everything was more hopeful, he deferred. He asked if Max Scherzer had talked about the subject broached by a reporter. Told Scherzer had not, Doolittle said he would prefer to wait until Scherzer spoke. They had discussed the idea prior. So, they were working in tandem.

The pair has operated individually when addressing their personal performance or as team spokespeople when discussing the state of the Nationals. In this new setting, when a negotiating battle is underway between the union and league, and a pandemic has hurtled the sport into unprecedented territory, the two have become one of the most prominent duos in the league.

Scherzer dropped the largest statement of the negotiating period when he tweeted last week. A member of the union’s powerful eight-person executive subcommittee, and the best player among that group, Scherzer’s decree the players would not accept a further pay cut rattled the sport. An out-of-town announcer railed against the stance. The league received a large hint of the players’ coming counter-proposal. The union, through Scherzer’s rarely used social media account, had spoken.

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Days later, Doolittle countered his employer when tweeting about the Nationals players’ desire to step in and pay minor-league players in the organization. Doolittle’s Twitter account is often an outlet for his thoughts on topics from social justice to baseball matters to, of course, Star Wars. He uses the medium for consistent and steady interaction with the public. Scherzer operates differently. He stays off social media -- for the most part. He composed just four original tweets in the two years before delivering a missive via screenshot last week.

Soon, both will be gone. Doolittle is in the final year of his contract. Scherzer has one more year on his seven-year, $210 million deal which has evolved into a bargain framed by staggering figures.

Doolittle will be 34 years old on Sept. 26. Scherzer turns 36 years old on July 27th. Their statesmen positions in the game are likely to last beyond their playing careers. Doolittle will walk into a flood of post-career media offers. Scherzer’s future could include being the executive director of the MLBPA. He is the necessary blend of informed, passionate, and obstinate.

Both are voices to be heard in this climate. They understand the landscape in front of and behind them. Managing messages within the union and out in the public eye are divergent projects which simultaneously influence each other. Being the elders -- the viejos -- on the team brings a specific responsibility separate from overall union business. They need to be the house protectors then.

And know they are working in conjunction. An avenue over here for one, an avenue over there for another, making two of the most prominent local voices two of the most powerful across the sport.

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Nats reverse plans after Doolittle statement, will pay minor leaguers full stipend

Nats reverse plans after Doolittle statement, will pay minor leaguers full stipend

The Nationals reversed course Monday when the organization decided it will pay minor-league players under contract the full $400 weekly stipend originally agreed to across Major League Baseball in late March.

The Nationals were one of a handful of teams to lower the weekly stipend for minor-league players. Their decision over the weekend was instantly criticized since the total savings was so low and minor-league players already operate with comparatively low incomes.

The optics were particularly bad during this time of economic downturn.

Sunday, Sean Doolittle tweeted that the major-league players in the organization would fill a financial gap created by ownership when it decided to reduce minor-league pay from $400 to $300.

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“After hearing that Nationals minor league players are facing additional pay cuts, the current members of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball club will be coming together and committing funds to make whole the lost wages from their weekly stipends.

“All of us were minor leaguers at one point in our careers and we know how important the weekly stipends are for them and their families during these uncertain times.

“Minor leaguers are an essential part of our organization and they are bearing the heaviest burden of this situation as their season is likely to be cancelled. We recognize and want to stand with them and show our support.”

Monday, the organization lifted the small burden from the players and decided to fulfill the stipends until the end of June.

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