Redskins

Wolves pledge playoffs in new ticket campaign

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Wolves pledge playoffs in new ticket campaign

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Timberwolves have been saying all season the playoffs are the goal this year. Now they're banking on it.

The Wolves are promising anyone who renews their season ticket or purchases a new one for next season a 10 percent discount if the team does not make the playoffs this year. The Wolves are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot out of the playoff field.

``It's sort of a part pledge, part challenge,'' Timberwolves chief marketing officer Ted Johnson said.

It's also the latest in a series of aggressive marketing tactics aimed at getting fans to consider the Timberwolves again after years of struggling and getting them on the bandwagon as the team has started to show signs of promise. They started a sometimes painfully honest advertising campaign four years ago, telling fans they were beginning a ``re-re-re-rebuilding'' plan, alluding to the difficulty they had re-inventing themselves after trading star forward Kevin Garnett to Boston.

With fans turning away from the product, they went to great lengths to try to keep them coming to Target Center, slashing ticket prices and increasing the amenities given to season-ticket holders. During one of the roughest years of the recession, owner Glen Taylor even offered fans who purchased a season ticket the chance for a full refund if they lost their job in the calendar year. They also drew some jeers league-wide when they took out an ad in the local Star Tribune of Minneapolis acknowledging that they weren't going to win the NBA title before the 2010-11 season began.

Now that the team is more competitive, with All-Star forward Kevin Love, dynamic point guard Ricky Rubio and bruising center Nikola Pekovic giving coach Rick Adelman a strong core, the Wolves are trying to seize some momentum.

``It's just the next chapter in that process,'' Johnson said. ``We were very open and honest with our fans when we didn't think we were going to be as competitive and we were asking their patience to bide their time and join the journey with us. Now that the expectations have changed we're willing to put skin in the game. We know our expectations of ourselves will be to challenge for that (playoff) spot.''

It can still be considered a bold maneuver.

The Wolves started the season fully confident that they were going to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 in the powerful Western Conference. But Rubio only returned from a torn ACL in his left knee in the middle of December and has been bothered by back spasms that have kept him out the last four games. Love missed the first three weeks of the regular season with a broken hand, then broke it again last week and is expected to be out for several weeks. The team is also missing Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Malcolm Lee and Josh Howard because of knee injuries.

Through it all they've managed to stay afloat at 15-15, but the playoffs are no sure thing. Another ad appeared in the Star Tribune on Monday morning, saying that ``the days of the `building season' are over.'' Johnson said the campaign didn't need to be discussed with the basketball side of the franchise because it is essentially an extension of what president David Kahn, Adelman and the players have been saying from the outset.

``If you commit to us for next year, we know that part of that is you're making a commitment to a team that is competitive,'' Johnson said. ``We're in the playoff hunt and our expectation is to challenge for the playoff spot. Just like we're asking you to make us a commitment now for next season, we're willing to make a commitment to you.''

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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Derrius Guice's latest injury left the Redskins both dejected and concerned

Derrius Guice's latest injury left the Redskins both dejected and concerned

Redskins running back Derrius Guice has shown plenty of promise when he's been on the field.

But staying on the field has been the hardest part for the second-year veteran. In his first NFL preseason game, Guice tore his left ACL against the Patriots, forcing him to miss the entire 2018 season. In Week 1 of 2019, Guice tore the meniscus in his right knee. He landed on injured reserve and missed the next eight games.

In Sunday's 20-15 loss to Green Bay, Guice was forced to leave the game in the second quarter with another knee injury, one in his ACL repaired left knee. After breaking off a 23-yard run down the right sideline, Guice was upended on a direct helmet-to-knee collision.

The result of the hit is unclear, as Guice will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

Interim head coach Bill Callahan, as well as multiple Redskins players, were asked in the locker room about Guice's injury. They were both dejected and concerned for the young running back.

"Just his reaction to it, it was kind of frightening. I know what he's been through," running back Adrian Peterson said. "That's the last thing that he needs is another serious injury. I told him, 'Take the positives. I know you wanted to be out there and finish the game, but it could have been worse than what it was.'"

Guice finished the game with 42 yards on just five carries.

"That's my guy. That's like my little brother," Chris Thompson said. "To see this continually happen to him, it sucks. Every time he's getting, showing what he's able to do, something happens."

Entering Sunday, Guice was coming off the heels of his best game as a professional. In Week 13, the LSU product finished with a career-high 129 yards on just 10 carries to go along with two touchdowns.

While the team has yet to announce the severity of the injury, sports medical analyst and longtime Chargers' physician Dr. David Chao believes that Guice suffered a mild MCL sprain, which would be a positive sign for Guice, if true.

Callahan seemed to be a little more concerned.

"Right now, I'm just worried about where he is currently," the interim head coach said. "Overall, it's unfortunate that he's been banged up and nicked up. I'm just curious to see how he comes out of this game with whatever injury he sustained."

Callahan's concern is certainly warranted. After all, Guice told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay "all is well" following the Patriots game in 2018, the same game he tore his ACL in. After Week 1, then-head coach Jay Gruden did not report an injury to Guice in his postgame press conference. Later in the week, the team announced he was being placed on injured reserve.

So, if Guice's injuries in the past are any indication, nothing is for sure until the MRI results come back.

"It sucks that it keeps happening to his knees," Thompson said. "That's how he makes his money. Just to see that, it's rough, but I know he's going to do everything, work his butt off to get back."

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ESPN releases Sunday Night Baseball schedule, Nationals make zero appearances

ESPN releases Sunday Night Baseball schedule, Nationals make zero appearances

ESPN released its Sunday Night Baseball schedule for the 2020 season and the World Series Champion Nationals are not on it. 

The Mets are scheduled to play three times on baseball's prime time television slot, while the Dodgers are set to appear three times as well. The Braves are the only other NL East team scheduled to play. 

Here's a look at the schedule so far. 

As you can probably tell, there's plenty of Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers in there.

There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Nationals' roster due to Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon's free agencies, but come on. The Mets?

On the chance the Nationals lose both Strasburg and Rendon in free agency, they still have a great chance at being competitive and intriguing all year. 

Sunday Night Baseball is supposed to be the biggest game of the week and to not have the defending champions once feels wrong regardless of your allegiances.

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