McCarron should be right at home in Miami


McCarron should be right at home in Miami

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron should feel right at home in when the second-ranked Crimson Tide take on No. 1 Notre Dame for the BCS national title on Monday night at Sun Life Stadium.

That's because he's seen himself playing there for years.

Sun Life is the home of the Miami Dolphins - and the Miami Hurricanes, the team that McCarron grew up rooting for. He strongly considered attending the school and playing for the `Canes.

``I love `The U,''' said McCarron, a native of Mobile, Ala. ``But I just felt like at the end of the day, it was the best situation for me to stay in the state.''

McCarron is tall and lean, reminiscent of former Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, who just happens to be one of the Alabama star's favorite players. McCarron also grew up idolizing former Hurricanes like Willis McGahee, Andre Johnson and Kellen Winslow.

``What probably attracted me the most is, just like whenever you're a little kid, the team that's winning the most is probably your favorite,'' McCarron said.

He ultimately picked the Tide over Oklahoma and Miami.

And even though McCarron was a 2-year-old at the time, Alabama's win over the Hurricanes for the 1992 national title seems like it's a topic of regular discussion in his house.

``My dad went to that game and missed my brother being born to go to that game,'' McCarron said. ``My mom was not happy.''


NIX THE SINGING: Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix and Alabama wide receiver Christion Jones are obviously exceptional football players.

And as singers ... well, they're exceptional football players.

The players got swallowed up in the ``Gangnam Style'' craze on Wednesday night, when the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide were invited to watch the Miami Heat play the Dallas Mavericks. DJ Irie, part of the Heat in-game entertainment crew, had Nix and Jones at his courtside spot during a break in the action to entertain fans with their version of the popular song.

Nix referred to himself by his Twitter handle while introducing himself to the crowd, then sang for just a few seconds and started to mimic the dance that goes along with the wildly popular song.

Jones seemed to have a bit of stage fright as well, yet walked away laughing as the sellout crowd of just over 20,000 NBA fans roared for both.


SPINMEISTER: Eddie Lacy might have a future in politics since he's mastered the spin.

The Alabama tailback frequently spins away from defenders without seeming to lose much of his momentum, and it works for him.

Lacy even jokes that he created the move when T.J. Yeldon or Kenyon Drake try it out in practice.

``It's just funny,'' Tide wide receiver Kevin Norwood said. ``He'll swear up and down that he invented it, and he put like a trademark on his spin move. He'll try to make a joke, like `I'm going to charge you $15.'''

Teammates have nicknamed him ``Circle Button'' after the move that simulates a spin in video games. Lacy says he's been doing it a long time.

``It's just something I've been able to do naturally,'' he said.

Center Barrett Jones said it's one thing that separates him from predecessors Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram.

``One difference is I've never seen a spin move like he has,'' Jones said. ``He's got a great spin move. I've never seen him get tackled by the first guy he spins on. ``


FUZZY IRISH: Just call them the Notre Dame Fuzzy Irish.

About a dozen Notre Dame players have been growing beards since early in the season, and they are looking pretty bushy right now.

Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore is one of the founding members of the beard gang. His is full, thick and dark, though neatly groomed.

The senior said the movement began organically, with no planning nor direction. It wasn't really tied to Notre Dame's winning streak, though at this point the guys who started it aren't about to shave.

The other mainstays in the gang, in from the start, are safeties Zeke Motta and Matthias Farley, guard Mike Golic Jr., and nose guard Tony Springman.

Others have jumped on and off, which doesn't always sit well with the founders.

``Bennett Jackson was on the beard but he shaved it a couple days ago,'' Lewis-Moore said. ``I'm kind of mad at him for that. Then there's guys with the baby face who can't grow it.''

Farley said he was considering shaving Tuesday, the day after the national championship game against Alabama. Lewis-Moore said he probably won't keep the beard long-term either.

``I got to look good for the ladies,'' he said.

The best beards? Lewis-Moore gives the nod to Springman and Golic.

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What exactly did the Orioles get in return for Manny Machado?

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What exactly did the Orioles get in return for Manny Machado?

So, the Orioles made some headlines earlier this week. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but minor league pitcher Asher Wojciechowski exercised his opt-out clause and is no longer with the organization. Please keep Orioles fans in your thoughts during this trying time.

As everyone reading this is undoubtedly already aware, the Orioles *also* made a trade yesterday, sending 26-year old superstar Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return for their once-in-a-lifetime talent, the Orioles received a whopping five prospects from the Dodgers’ minor league system.

Yusniel Diaz, OF, 21

It’s fitting that this trade is being compared to the Erik Bedard trade, which was also a five-for-one, because Diaz could be a poor man’s Adam Jones. He’s not the prospect Jones was, but he could end up being a really nice player.

Talent evaluators are split on his ultimate ceiling. Some describe him as a bona fide stud, and others leave him off their top 100 lists. I’ve seen him ranked as high as 31st overall (by Baseball Prospectus), which, if accurate, is a terrific main piece in a package for a star rental. 

Most consider Diaz’s main flaw as a prospect to be his in-game power, though anyone watching the 2018 MLB Futures Game would be confused by that, as he became the second player ever to hit multiple home runs in the game. It’s possible that more power develops as he matures, and he certainly wouldn’t be the first player to hit for more power once reaching the Majors, but for now, it’s not a strength. I wouldn’t expect him to top 20 home runs in most seasons.

His bat-to-ball ability is his clearest strength, as he projects to consistently hit for a high average. His batting eye, while formerly a weakness, has become a strength in 2018, as he’s actually walked more times than he’s struck out (a rarity in this day and age). That will play well with O’s fans who are tired of seeing their players challenge strikeout records.

Dean Kremer, RHP, 22

Kremer isn’t a major name, which is a disappointment for O’s fans and one of the reasons their haul felt so uninspiring. Compared to more highly-touted prospects like Dustin May, Kremer looks like the team settled.

That said, he’s currently sporting the best K/9 ratio in the minors, and could end up being a diamond in the rough. He’s come a long way since being a 14th-round pick two years ago, and you have to wonder if the Orioles’ much-maligned pitching development can pick up where the much more successful Dodgers instructors left off.

Kremer is also notable for being the first Israeli-born player ever drafted in Major League Baseball.

Rylan Bannon, IF, 22

Bannon was an 8th-rounder last year and is having somewhat of a breakout this season. He’s leading the league in home runs, though playing in a notorious band box of a home park is skewing those numbers.

Bannon is undersized, but has a reputation of a good, if not elite, fielder. He’s a third baseman, but will likely spend some time at second as well. If the power breakout is real, he could end up a solid starter for the Orioles down the road. Again, that’s about all you can hope for in trades of this nature.

Zach Pop, RHP, 21

Pop has been described as potentially a future “right-handed Zach Britton,” which every O’s fan would take in a heartbeat. Of course, he’s not ranked like a future All-Star, as even in the weaker Orioles farm system he’s likely no better than around 25th. 

Still, the filler players in big trades like this are just lottery tickets, and considering his lack of pedigree, Pop seems like a relatively “safe” pitcher with projectability. He strikes out a lot of batters and gets a lot of ground balls, and at the very least can likely become a decent middle reliever.

Breyvic Valera, IF, 26

In a best-case scenario, Valera becomes the Orioles’ Ryan Flaherty replacement. If you squint, you can see somewhat decent upside in each of the other returning players, even despite their modest prospect rankings, but Valera is a clear utility player. 

He gets on base and hits for contact well enough to stick around and has proven capable of defending multiple positions, so there actually might be a spot for him at the end of the Orioles bench.


This trade has been described as anywhere from adequate and somewhat deflating to a great haul O’s fans should be excited about. Four of the five players have decent ceilings, though the chance of all four (or even just two of them) reaching those ceilings is highly unlikely. It’s just the nature of baseball.

Ultimately, this trade will be judged on the success or failure of Yusniel Diaz, who is the clear centerpiece of the package. Whether or not he succeeds will be partially up to him, and partially up to the front office and player development team.

If this trade is the beginning of the core for the next competitive Orioles team, then it’ll have to be considered a success. If these players each bust out of the league, then it was still the correct decision to trade Machado instead of settling for draft pick compensation, but it will still sting all the more for O’s fans seeing Manny soar to new heights elsewhere.

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Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA


Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

Defenseman Madison Bowey re-signed with the Capitals on Thursday, inking a two-year extension that will carry an average of $1 million.

Bowey carried a cap charge of $703,333 last season.

The 23-year-old appeared in 51 games for the Caps in 2017-18, amassing 12 assists, 24 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-3.

Bowey also suited up in nine contests for AHL Hershey, though he finished the season as one of the Black Aces during Washington's run to the Stanley Cup.

With Bowey back in the fold, the Caps now have six of seven defenseman from last season’s roster under contract. (Veteran Brooks Orpik remains an unrestricted free agent.)

Bowey had an uneven first year in the NHL—he didn’t play following the late-February addition of Michal Kempny—but the Caps expect that the 6-2, 198-pound right-shot blue liner will become reliable full-time player with more seasoning.

Bowey’s deal leaves Tom Wilson as the Caps' only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. The sides are in discussions on a multi-year extension.

Including Bowey’s extension, the Caps have roughly $7.3 million in salary cap space remaining, according to www.capfriendly.com.