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It’s been a rough season for the Blue Jays, and much of that is due to their horrific start. They’ve mostly recovered, but that mostly bit is key: On Thursday, for the ninth time this season, the Blue Jays attempted to reach the .500 mark. For the ninth time, they failed miserably trying to get their head above water.

Florida had a hell of a go at it in the Gators’ Gainesville super regional against Wake Forest, who hung around to force a rubber match Game 3 this past Monday. Rain fouled up the entire weekend in Gainesville, with the result that all three of that site’s games experienced weather delays. Even so, both games on Monday combined to provide some impressive offense from both clubs, including a dramatic two-run walkoff homer that won Wake Forest its first ever super regional game in program history.

The format of the first round in Omaha reverts back to that of the round of 64, with the eight remaining teams separated into two groups of four for a double elimination mini-bracket. Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton, LSU and Florida State make up one half of the bracket, while Florida, Louisville, Texas A&M and TCU are in the other. On paper, the Beavers have the easiest path to the final weekend, though LSU presents a formidable challenge.

The two teams left standing after the double elimination round will then face off in the CWS finals in a best of three series beginning on June 26. Game 3 of that tilt will be at 8 p.m. ET on June 28.

Strasburg is pitching solely from the stretch this season, in hopes that simplified mechanics will result in fewer DL stints and fewer missed starts in potentially iconic matchups. Wednesday’s matinee will likely go off without a hitch. Kershaw doesn’t have much to prove to anyone ever, but especially not in regards to the Nationals. The Nats, though, have won just once with Stras on the mound, one of two decisions for the second ace.

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The 2017 MLB Draft resumes on Tuesday afternoon, with baseball teams continuing their annual replenishing of domestic amateur talent. After 75 picks in the first two rounds on Monday, we will see 240 picks on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10.

During the 2017 season, McKay batted .343 with 17 home runs, 56 RBI, and a .464 on-base percentage. The junior had more walks (45) than strikeouts (36). He was nearly as impressive on the mound with a 10-3 record, 2.34 ERA, 140 strikeouts, and just 33 walks in 104 innings.

It’s unclear which way McKay will go in the pros long-term they officially drafted him as a position player but it’s possible the Rays give him the chance to play first base and pitch initially.

McKay was considered a possible No. 1 overall pick, but high school shortstop Royce Lewis, as well as high school pitchers Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore, were taken with the first three picks.

The Brewers turned what was a miserable system around with high picks and crafty trades, and they’re contending much sooner than expected this season. This pick will help them replenish some of the organizational depth that’s been diminished because of promotions always the best reason and they’ll bank on the high ceiling.

I was going to write something about a high floor, but every player has a low floor. Every single one. They don’t have to make the majors at all, so maybe the idea of a high floor is a myth. Either way, it’s indisputable that the Brewers got a talented player here.

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Tebow moving up with these type of numbers may sound surprising, but a promotion for him has been in the works for a while. A report from May 12 had him skipping St. Lucie entirely and going right to AA.

A report states that the Mets are preparing to promote Tebow to Double A. The change wouldn’t be immediate, according to the New York Post, which reports that a team source says the promotion won’t likely occur until after the All-Star break.

On first glance, Tebow’s current numbers at Class-A aren’t heart-stopping. He’s hitting a middling .250/.330/.370, and that’s over 28 games. He hit a home run in his first game and one in his third game, but none since. But when you look a little closer, you start to actually see the whisper of… something. Over the last 16 games, Tebow has brought his overall average up from a low of .156 to a high of .250. Over that time, he’s hit .327/.413/.436 with four doubles and a triple. That’s not nothing.
Tebow isn’t bad strictly speaking, but he definitely isn’t good.

Oregon State and Cal State Fullerton kicked things off in the early session, and the Beavers’ Jake Thompson got banged up in a hurry. His command was all out of whack as pitch after pitch floated up on him, and Fullerton’s Timmy Richards blasted a three-run shot straight into the teeth of the wind at TD Ameritrade Park to open the day’s scoring.

Both pitchers in fact struggled early, combining for 55 total pitches in the first frame. The Titans’ Connor Seabold loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, but managed an inning-ended strikeout to strand the Beavs’ runners. Seabold then put runners on the corners in the bottom of the second and Oregon State scored a run on a sac grounder to first.

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Ari Schultz, a 5-year-old boy, has been in Boston Children’s Hospital for over six months. Ari was diagnosed with critical aortic stenosis and evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome during the second trimester of his mother’s pregnancy. These complications eventually led to the need for a heart transplant.

On March 3, Ari received a heart transplant. And on Wednesday, he received news that he will *finally* get to leave the hospital. His reaction will absolutely melt your heart.

One could argue that the most important work of this draft has already been done, but there are a number of productive players throughout baseball who were drafted after the 10th round.

Mark Reynolds (16th round), Logan Morrison (22nd), and Scott Schebler (26th) are all in the top 10 in home runs this season, while pitcher Robbie Ray (12th round) ranks fourth in the majors in Wins Above Replacement (3.4).

Mike Piazza made the Hall of Fame after getting drafted in 1988 in the 62nd round, a round that no longer even exists. Future Hall of Fame slugger Albert Pujols slipped all the way to the 13th round in 1999.

Oregon State here holds the added advantage of a stellar pitching staff, even without Friday ace Luke Heimlich, who announced Thursday that he would not be traveling with the team to Omaha, so as not to create further distraction for the team on its title attempt. In the lead-up to the Beavers’ Corvallis super regional, The Oregonian discovered that Heimlich was a registered sex offender, having been convicted of molesting a younger family member when he was 15 years old.

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If you’re not on Twitter all day, trapped by the constant psyche-chewing hurricane of current events and bad opinions, this might be hard to follow, but I’ll try. On Twitter, there are brands. Some of these brands are cheeky. Of these cheeky brands, the Wendy’s brand is one of the cheekiest.

I’m still paying student loans because I went to college to write about stuff like this.

Anyway, so someone on Twitter who appreciated the cheekiness of the Oakland Athletics official account wanted to know who would win in a Brand War. And the A’s, being cheeky, decided to play along:

No. 6 overall national seed TCU jumped up on Missouri State early in the Fort Worth super, netting four runs in the first three innings. The Bears did manage a first-inning home run from leadoff batter Hunter Steinmetz, but they were stonewalled through the middle stretches.

In the Gainesville super regional, Florida came down off the high of the season’s first walkoff win and got into an early 4-2 hole against Wake Forest. But in the top of the fifth, the Gators managed to tie things up at four apiece all to the tune of a Dalton Guthrie sac fly to right center.

Wake Forest then crossed a run in the bottom of the frame to pull ahead, 5-4, and then the rains came. But no one tell these dedicated Gator fans.

The game will be the face-off that never was in 2016. Kershaw and Strasburg were the set starters about this time last season in L.A., but it wasn’t to be. Strasburg was scratched pregame for an upper-back strain. What was supposed to be a matchup for the ages turned into simply another dominating outing from Kersh. He would hold the Nationals offense to just one run that night, and his teammates would support him with four against long-man turned starter for a night (basically Cinderella) Yusmeiro Petit.

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The 2017 College World Series continues on Sunday with two more games at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, including a matchup of ranked teams with No. 3 Florida facing No. 6 TCU.

Both games will be televised by ESPN and ESPN2, with online streaming available through WatchESPN.

The first game on Sunday gives us a chance to see two-way star Brendan McKay start on the mound for No. 7 Louisville against Texas A&M. McKay was drafted fourth overall in the MLB draft on Monday by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Would he have to give back the surfboard in the shape of Steve Garvey that the Padres gave him? Would he have to give back the gift certificate to Sbarro he got from the Yankees? There’s so much about this that doesn’t make sense.

And is that even a rumor? It’s just Pedro spitballin’, really. Hey, my large baseball friend can still play baseball and hit baseballs, baseball fans. There’s nothing about it that reads like informed speculation.

So I, for one, am choosing to believe that this is a rumor. Of all the dramatic things I have ever seen, this would rank about 8,374th. But it would be fun. And the takes would be even better.

West Coast teams typically play tournament-friendly baseball, what with their commitment to small-ball hitting, aggressive base-running, and lockdown defense. Tournament ball means tooling around with lineups and pitching assignments, and a team’s ability to adapt on the fly suits those that can do it all.

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In late June, with the excitement of the Timberwolves’ acquisition of All-Star guard Jimmy Butler setting in, Karl-Anthony Towns blurted some excessive enthusiasm. With Butler on board, plus Towns, former No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and new point guard Jeff Teague, Towns said, This is what dynasties are made of.

But, weeks later, Towns was ready to clarify he did not mean to say the Timberwolves, who have not been to the postseason since 2004, already qualify as a dynasty.

I think it is way too early for that, Towns said. The Golden State Warriors, that is a dynasty. What the Spurs have had is a dynasty. Cleveland, because they’ve gone to the Finals and won a championship. It’s a goal we should set for ourselves, but I think it is too soon.

Unbelievable, Towns said. For his ability to have $57 million in the bank yearly is something special, but it speaks to the popularity of the NBA, how well it is doing. I am so fortunate to be part of the league at this time, not just because it is lucrative, but because it is at its strongest point, the best foundation that has been built by the NBA and the players who came before us.

Another topic of conversation and contention this offseason has been that of resting players. It came to a head last year when the trend increased league-wide. Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs have done it for years, and more ‘DNP-Rest’ appeared in box scores in 2016-17 with other coaches trying to find a respite for their big-name players.

The NBA is perhaps more in-tune with catering to the desires of its fans and paying attention to the quality of its in-game product than any other North American league. It took measures this summer such as changing its rules regarding timeouts, the ones that turn the final two minutes of a game into a two-hour production. ESPN’s Zach Lowe also reported the league was trying to alter the schedule to get teams playing in marquee, national games a day of rest prior to the matchup. It’s clear that when all eyes are watching, the NBA wants to be putting forth its best product.

As to whether there is any tension between James and Irving, Jefferson said that couldn’t be further from the case.

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Remember that rapping, muscle-flexing viral workout video LeBron James posted on Instagram last month?

Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving apparently didn’t appreciate it very much. That led to a bizarre video that surfaced today of Curry mocking James’ moves in the video, while Irving eggs him on, as the two attended Harrison Barnes’ wedding reception Saturday.

Such great hands. This is a kid who knows just what he is. He comes in and he defends. He does not get cheap blocks. He can get up and get a block from behind without fouling, and that gets into the heads of the offensive players. You think about where he is before you shoot in the lane.

He is going to need some offense. Just something, like a 15-footer. His offensive game is pretty much just cutting to the basket. There is no room in the league now for a Ben Wallace-type.

Mason Jr. has also worked to get Sr.’s high school gym and a street named after him. Proceeds from the sales of the sneakers and T-shirts will go to Jr.’s Family on Three Foundation, started in 2015 to impact the youth and community by providing inner-city kids with positive role models strategic enrichment and exposure. (The sneakers can be purchased for $130 at Ewing Athletics’ Web site. The shirts are going for $35 apiece online.)

The launch event, held at retail outlet Jimmy Jazz in Mason Sr.’s South Jamaica Queens, was a glorious occasion. The whole neighborhood as well as many of his friends from St. John’s and the Knicks organization came out to pay respects to one of their own. Mikey’s Lit Ice Cream catered the event, and world-renowned barber Freddy Avila was on hand to bless a chosen few with the custom cut Mason Sr. made him famous for back in the day.

Mason Jr.’s post-basketball career is well on its way. But his story could’ve ended up much, much worse.

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James Harden and Chris Paul will play together just fine in Houston if Sunday’s Drew League game was any indication.

The two All-Stars vaulted their Drew League team LAUNFD (pronounced L.A. Unified) into the playoffs with an 83-81 win over Home Town Favorites a team loaded with current NBA players Jordan Bell, Delon Wright and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Jennings later deleted the tweet, but Pierce had seen enough to make him his enemy forever. That’s why in May, Pierce said on ESPN’s The Jump that Jennings shouldn’t be in the NBA.

After today’s news about Jennings, I jokingly tweeted that he listened to Pierce, and to my surprise, he actually responded. And not only did he respond, but he did so with a warning to anyone else who wants to take shots at him.

To be fair to Jennings, his stint in China is supposed to be temporary. He told ESPN’s Marc J. Spears he plans to return to the NBA once his 1-year deal in China is up. He has a chance to increase his hype overseas after coming off a lackluster stint in Washington.

With the Wizards, Jennings averaged 3.5 points per game and shot a measly 21.2 percent from 3-point range.

He wasn’t always consistent, but Beasley showed flashes of what made him such an enticing prospect last season, like when he scored a team-high 28 points (11-of-18 shooting) in a road win against the Spurs back in January with Giannis Antetokounmpo limited by an illness.

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Blake Griffin didn’t hold back when mocking Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey suggested NBA awards, such as MVP, gets scratch.

After Russell Westbrook won the award over James Harden, Morey said it might be too hard for an MVP to be picked.

Griffin was not having it, saying that championships should be banished and everyone gets a participation trophy.

Harden came in second behind Westbrook by just 135 points, but the voting system is pretty cut and dry.

One has to wonder, if Harden won MVP as opposed to Westbrook, would Morey have said anything at all?

It was a happy alteration of circumstance. But the vitriol leveled at Porter after he changed his mind about Washington stood out.

A teenage kid changing his mind on a basketball commitment following the firing of the coach seemed understandable enough. Porter agreed, but he said, shrugging, People still let me have it.

Now his task is to help change the hoops culture around Missouri, which has never advanced beyond the Elite Eight and has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2010. Things have been particularly bad for the Tigers lately — three straight last-place finishes in the SEC, with a combined conference record of 8-46 in those years. That was one of the lures of Columbia.

There’s Kentucky, there’s Kansas, there’s North Carolina, Porter said. Then there’s Missouri and Washington, you know? I didn’t want to be in one of those schools where I might just be remembered as another superstar who came through. I want to make a program difference — a legacy. If things go as I think they will with this team this year, I will be remembered at Mizzou forever. I will have left a legacy. I want to make a big difference.

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