Redskins

Nets-Knicks opener in Brooklyn postponed

Nets-Knicks opener in Brooklyn postponed

NEW YORK (AP) Barclays Center sits right above a major mass-transit hub, an ideal destination for fans throughout New York.

Not right now, though.

With those subways knocked out by Hurricane Sandy and no way of knowing how fans would get there, the city's mayor decided this isn't the time for a game.

So Michael Bloomberg asked the NBA to postpone Thursday's highly anticipated opener between the Knicks and Nets, and the league agreed Wednesday.

``It's a great stadium, it would have been a great game, but the bottom line is: There is not a lot of mass transit. Our police have plenty of other things to do,'' Bloomberg said at a news conference.

Barclays Center sits above the Atlantic Avenue subway station complex which hosts nine subway lines and a Long Island Rail Road station, and was expanded as part of the $1 billion arena's construction. The Nets believe that will be a major selling point in drawing fans to the games after they were plagued by poor attendance during their years in New Jersey.

But without knowing what - if any - subways would be available and with city officials still preferring people not drive into New York, the Nets agreed with the decision.

``We're disappointed that we can't play, but there's a lot more important things going on right now, a lot of people displaced from their homes, a lot of people lost loved ones. So in the grand scheme of things, a basketball game really doesn't mean much right now,'' Nets point guard Deron Williams told reporters after practice. ``I think it'd be hard for a lot of people to even get to the game in the first place, with public transportation being shut down. I guess it makes sense to not have the game.''

The Knicks are now scheduled to open their season at home Friday night against the Miami Heat. The Nets are scheduled to host Toronto on Saturday night.

Bloomberg said the city will work with the league to provide extra buses to Saturday's game in case the subways are not yet operational. Brett Yormark, the Nets' CEO, said in a statement that there would be food and beverage specials starting at 5:30 p.m.

The usual NBA policy on the status of a game is to play it if both teams and the three referees can make it to the arena. That wouldn't have been a problem, one of the reasons the league originally planned to play as scheduled.

However, the league also wanted to be sensitive because it was the Nets' first game, televised to a national TV audience on TNT, and didn't want the team's big event to be one that was largely empty.

``Mayor Bloomberg informed us this afternoon that after further analysis of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy that he felt it was in the best interests of the city of New York, the teams and our fans that we postpone the Knicks-Nets game scheduled for Thursday night,'' NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said. ``Our thoughts are with all those affected by this devastating storm.''

The Nets are still practicing in New Jersey this season, yet moved practice to Barclays Center after their facility in East Rutherford suffered damage from the storm. Rookie Tyshawn Taylor was unable to make it, stuck in his Hoboken home.

The NBA had said Tuesday night that the game would go on as scheduled, and fans were eager for what would have been the first major sports game in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left for Brooklyn in 1957. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, a Brooklyn native, called it a ``monumental'' event for the borough.

Bloomberg said he planned to attend with his daughters and girlfriend and said players wanted to play, but he and the Nets agreed that it was better to wait.

``The right thing to do,'' Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ``We all would have loved to play, to bring, hopefully, the people that have power or some of the fans that could've made it to the building, we would have loved to have brought them some sense of entertainment or joy or whatever, but, at the same time, all of the people who were responsible for making this decision, it was the right thing to do.''

The Nets are working with the league to find a makeup date. Tickets for Thursday's game will be honored for the rescheduled game.

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 


Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

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) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

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USA TODAY Sports

5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals traded for Royals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera this evening. 

Not only did the Nationals trade for Kelvin Herrera, but they did so without losing Juan Soto, Victor Robles, or Andrew Stevenson. The first two were never in any real danger of being traded for a relief pitcher who will be a free agent at year's end, but the Nats escaped only giving up their 10th and 11th ranked prospects:

On the surface, this deal looks exceptional for the Nationals. Herrera is another back-of-the-bullpen type that only further deepens the Nats' options in that department. Here are a handful of things you should know about the Nationals' newest pitcher:

1. Herrera's strikeout "issue" is complicated 

Herrera, like many other closers over the last half-decade, has made his name in strikeouts. He topped out at a 30.4 percent strikeout rate in 2016, and has a 23.4 percent clip for his career. His K% this season sits at 23.2 percent, which is both higher than last season and lower than his career average. 

People will look at his dramatic K/9 drop as a red flag, but "per/9" stats are flawed and not generally a worthwhile stat to build an argument around. A pitcher who gets knocked around for five runs in an inning -- but gets three strikeouts -- can have the same K/9 of a different (much more efficient) pitcher who strikes out the side in order. 

2. Herrera has basically stopped walking batters 

His career BB% sits at 7.1 percent. His highest clip is nine percent (2014, 2015) and his lowest was a shade over four percent (2016). 

This season, he's walking batters at a two percent  rate. In 27 games this season, he's walked two batters. Two! 

3. The jury seems to still be out on how good of a year he's had so far

Analytics are frustrating. On one hand, they can serve wonderfully as tools to help peel back the curtains and tell a deeper story - or dispel lazy narratives. On the other hand, they can be contradictory, confusing, and at times downright misleading. 

Take, for instance, Herrera's baseline pitching stats. His ERA sits at 1.05, while his FIP sits at 2.62. On their own, both numbers are impressive. On their own, both numbers are All-Star level stats. 

When you stack them against each other, however, the picture turns negative. While ERA is the more common stat, it's widely accepted that FIP more accurately represents a pitcher's true value (ERA's calculation makes the same per/9 mistakes that were mentioned above). 

More often than not, when a pitcher's ERA is lower than his FIP, that indicates said pitcher has benefited from luck. 

Throw in a 3.51 xFIP (which is the same as FIP, but park-adjusted) and we suddenly have a real mess on our hands. Is he the pitcher with the great ERA, the pitcher with the Very Good FIP, or the pitcher with the medicore xFIP? 

4. He was a fastball pitcher, and then he wasn't, and now he is again

Take a look at Herrera's pitch usage over his career in Kansas City:

In only three years, he's gone from throwing a sinker 31 percent of the time to completely giving up on the pitch. That's pretty wild. 

Since 2014, he's gone to the slider more and more in every year. 

His current fastball usage would be the highest of his career. He only appeared in two games during the 2011 season, so those numbers aren't reliable. Going away from the sinker probably helps explain why his Ground Ball rate has dropped 10 percentage points, too. 

5. The Nats finally have the bullpen they've been dreaming about for years

Doolittle, Herrera, Kintzler, and Madson is about as deep and talented as any bullpen in baseball.

Justin Miller, Sammy Solis, and Wander Suero all have flashed serious potential at points throughout the year. Austin Voth is waiting for roster expansion in September. 

The Nats have been trying to build this type of bullpen for the better part of the last decade. Health obviously remains an important factor, but Rizzo's got the deepest pen of his time in D.C. 

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