Nationals

New Orleans told to narrow Super Bowl "clean zone"

New Orleans told to narrow Super Bowl "clean zone"

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The city of New Orleans must scale back its plans for a ``clean zone'' where the use of banners, signs and flags would be restricted during Super Bowl week, a federal judge said Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt's temporary restraining order says the city can only enforce the limits in an area near the Superdome, where the game will be played Feb. 3. The city had also planned to enforce the rules in the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods.

The judge's ruling comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of an activist and a street preacher. They claimed a new city ordinance and a code enforcement guide trample on their free speech rights and limit their activities leading up to the title game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

The ACLU asserts New Orleans adopted the new policies at the behest of the National Football League.

``The NFL asked them to do a whole bunch of things, including this,'' said ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman.

Esman said other Super Bowl host cities have enforced similar rules in recent years, but they have never been challenged in court before.

Engelhardt's order says the plaintiffs showed a ``likelihood of success'' in arguing that enforcing a broader ``clean zone'' is impermissible under the First Amendment. He scheduled a meeting Monday with lawyers for the city and ACLU to discuss the latter's request for a preliminary injunction.

``It's wonderful that the judge recognizes the city doesn't have a right to curtail speech throughout a large chunk of the city,'' Esman said.

The city, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas are named as defendants in the suit.

``We disagree with the ACLU's characterization of the Clean Zone,'' said Ryan Berni, spokesman for the mayor. ``The Clean Zone addresses issues such as signage, outdoor vending and erecting structures and tents that the City already permits. It is an additional temporary designation that seeks to protect the quality of life for residents and assists businesses in thriving during the Super Bowl. The City and other cities nationwide have instituted `clean zones' for similar major events.''

New Orleans planned for its measure to take effect on the morning of Jan. 28 and end on the evening of Feb. 5.

The ordinance, passed last month, says banners, flags and signs aren't allowed in the ``clean zone'' without the authorization of the city or the NFL. The content of any temporary signs approved by the city must consist of at least 60 percent Super Bowl or NFL branding. The guide, meanwhile, says no signs will be permitted unless the applicant is an NFL sponsor, the suit says.

The plaintiffs are Tara Jill Ciccarone, an Occupy NOLA member, and Troy Bohn, pastor of a religious congregation that regularly preaches on Bourbon Street.

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Nationals coy about how starting pitching will lineup in World Series

Nationals coy about how starting pitching will lineup in World Series

WASHINGTON -- Mike Rizzo declined to say specifically Friday how the Nationals’ World Series rotation would line up. 

“Davey [Martinez] and I haven’t met officially yet,” Rizzo said. “I don’t think the pitching plans will come as any shock to anybody.”

Washington’s sweep of St. Louis in the National League Championship Series presents options. Everyone is rested. And, they needed it.

Despite the sweep, Stephen Strasburg is second in pitches thrown in the postseason, Max Scherzer fourth, Patrick Corbin sixth and Aníbal Sánchez 11th. Houston’s Justin Verlander is No. 1 following his Friday start in New York. Astros starter Gerrit Cole is third.

“You guys can figure it out,” Martinez said to reporters of the pending rotation. “You’ve been here all year. 

“For me, it’s making sure these guys are ready and healthy. These guys have pitched a lot. I want to make sure -- it’s not just about Game 1, it’s about Games 4, 5, 6, 7. We’ve got to make sure we prepare ourselves for seven games and that we do our due diligence on each one.”

The flat, and most likely, scenario is Washington simply decides to throw Max Scherzer in Game 1 and Stephen Strasburg in Game 2. Scherzer would be back in Game 5, if necessary, on full rest. Strasburg would return for Game 6 on an extra day of rest. They could also flip to give Scherzer the extra day. 

Here’s a wrinkle to consider: throw Aníbal Sánchez in one of the first two games. Why? 

Sánchez has been potent in the postseason. He has a 0.71 ERA in two starts. He’s struck out 14 and allowed five hits. Nothing about his ERA is a fib.

If he starts Game 1 or 2 in Houston, let’s say Game 1 for this what-if exercise, Scherzer is bumped to Games 2 and 6 -- with an extra day of rest. Strasburg opens Game 3 at home, then is in line to pitch Game 7 on the road on regular rest. Otherwise, the Nationals will have to massage the pitching later in the series to put their two best pitchers in the most important game.

Think of the argument this way: if the goal is a road split to start, what are the chances a Sánchez-Scherzer pairing could accomplish that? Based on the postseason so far -- and Sánchez’s 2.57 career postseason ERA -- it’s a reasonable consideration.

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5 prospects Ravens fans should be watching in Penn State vs. Michigan

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5 prospects Ravens fans should be watching in Penn State vs. Michigan

The Whiteout is one of the greatest atmospheres in all of sports. It will be on display Saturday as Penn State hosts Michigan (7:30 p.m., ABC). That alone is enough reason to Saturday's game, but for any Redskins fans out there who need more convincing, there are plenty of players playing who could be joining former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley in Baltimore.

Hare the players Ravens fans should be watching.

DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Gross-Matos has been climbing the draft boards after a breakout sophomore season in which he blew apart opposing lines with a whopping 54 tackles, 20 for a loss and eight sacks. He has really good size at 6-foot-5 which comes with some big arms which he uses to initiate contact and work blockers. He has more penetration skills than a lot of edge rushers and sometimes comes from the interior at Penn State.  He is not the kind of lineman who needs to get a good jump and get around a block, he can go around you or through you.

See where Gross-Matos is projected to go in the latest NFL Mock Draft.

CB Lavert Hill, Michigan

With two interceptions this season already, Hill is a top cover-corner for Michigan. Most draft experts have him as a nickel corner in the NFL. That's because his best skill is covering receivers man-to-man. Line him up in the slot and have him cover a speedy slot receiver and he can shut it down. At 5-foot-11, he is definitely undersized for an NFL defensive back, but the talent is there.

Watching Hill lineup against Penn State's KJ Hamler will be one of the matchups to watch on Saturday.

OLB Cam Brown, Penn State

In terms of side-to-side vision, Brown is one of the best linebackers in college football. He recorded 63 tackles last season with two sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes broken up. The knock on him, however, is that he can be easily blocked. He needs to bulk up a bit and work at shedding blocks to be really effective at the NFL level.

G Michael Onwenu, Michigan

In terms of size and strength, Onwenu's got it. In terms of quickness and athleticism, there are a few question marks. Then again, Onwenu is a guard, not a tackle, so perhaps you can get away with a project at that position with questions about his shape. His power alone makes him an NFL player.

OLB Josh Uche, Michigan

Uche is a hybrid edge rusher/linebacker, but he definitely looks like he would be more of an edge rusher in the NFL. This guy's main job on the field and perhaps in life is to pressure the quarterback. He had only 15 tackles last year, but seven of them were sacks. This is definitely  a later-round project though. He had 1.5 sacks heading into last week's matchup with Illinois. He inflated his totals a bit with three sacks in that games so take his final numbers with a grain of salt and ask just where those sacks are coming from.

 

G Steven Gonzalez, Penn State

Gonzalez sounded like he was committed to entering the draft in 2018, but he elected instead to return to Penn State for a fifth season. He's an interior lineman, most likely a guard, which is an area the Ravens need depth in. 

Athleticism is a bit of a question. Gonzalez is good on the run at the first block, but you shouldn't really expect him to go to the second level. He is going to occupy his first block, but he is not going to plow his way to a second. He just doesn't have the speed or athleticism to do it.

Other potential NFL prospects to watch:

WR Tarik Black, Michigan
G Ben Bredeson, Michigan
RB Chris Evans, Michigan
P Blake Gillikin, Penn State
WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State
CB Lavert Hill, Michigan
S Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
WR Juwan Johnson, Penn State
S Josh Metellus, Michigan
K Quinn Nordin, Michigan
QB Shea Patterson, Michigan
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
CB John Reid, Penn State
OLB Josh Uche, Michigan
DT Robert Windsor, Penn State

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