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2018 MLB preview: AL Central

By The Associated Press Capsules of American League Central teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Cleveland Indians 2017: 102-60, first place, lost to Yankees in ALDS. Manager: Terry Francona (sixth season). He's Here: 1B-DH Yonder Alonso, LF Rajai Davis, RHP Alexi Ogando. He's Outta Here: 1B Carlos Santana, OF Jay Bruce, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Joe Smith, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Boone Logan. Projected Lineup: SS Francisco Lindor (.273, 33 HRs, 89 RBIs, 44 2Bs, 15 SBs, 10 errors), 2B Jason Kipnis (.232, 12 HRs, 35 RBIs in 90 games), 3B Jose Ramirez (.318, 29, 83, AL-leading 56 2Bs), DH Edwin Encarnacion (.258, 38, 107), 1B Yonder Alonso (.266, career-high 28 HRs, 67 RBIs with Athletics and Mariners), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (.288, 12, 53 in 82 games), C Roberto Perez (.207, 8, 38, club went 44-22 in his starts) or Yan Gomes (.232, 14, 56), CF Bradley Zimmer (.241, 8, 39, 18 SBs, 0 errors), LF Michael Brantley (.299, 9, 52 in 90 games) or Rajai Davis (.235, 5, 20, 29 SBs with Oakland and Boston). Rotation: RH Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 Ks, 2nd Cy Young Award), RH Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29, 226 Ks), RH Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19, 10-1 in final 13 starts), RH Mike Clevinger (12-6, 3.11, 137 Ks in 121 2/3 innings), RH Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.28, 12.67 Ks per 9 innings). Key Relievers: RH Cody Allen (3-7, 2.94, 30/34 saves, 96 saves past 3 seasons), LH Andrew Miller (4-3, 1.44, 2 saves), RH Dan Otero (3-0, 2.85, walked just 19 of 511 batters since 2016), LH Tyler Olson (1-0, 0.00 in 20 innings over 30 games), RH Zack McAllister (2-2, 2.61 in 50 games). Hot Spots: Kipnis and Brantley. The former All-Stars have been hindered by injuries in recent years, but both appear on track to bounce back in 2018. The Indians need them to produce. Cleveland is better defensively with Ramirez at second base, but he'll stay at third as long as the 31-year-old Kipnis hits. Kipnis has been mentioned in trade talk for two years. Brantley, once considered one of baseball's best all-around talents, has played in only 101 games since 2015. Outlook: No team has felt postseason pain lately quite like the Indians. They blew a 3-1 lead and lost the 2016 World Series to the Cubs, and squandered a 2-0 advantage in last year's best-of-five Division Series against the Yankees. With arguably baseball's strongest rotation led by Kluber, the Indians are poised to possibly end a championship drought approaching its 70th anniversary. Alonso must help the offense offset the losses of Santana and Bruce. Francona won't have Shaw in the bullpen anymore after the durable reliever pitched in at least 74 games each of the past four seasons. Winning the AL Central won't suffice for the Indians, who are determined to finish the job this year. ___ Minnesota Twins 2017: 85-77, second place, lost to Yankees in wild-card game. Manager: Paul Molitor (fourth season). He's Here: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Jake Odorizzi, DH-1B Logan Morrison, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Addison Reed, LHP Zach Duke, SS-3B Erick Aybar, RHP Michael Pineda. He's Outta Here: RHP Matt Belisle, RHP Bartolo Colon, C Chris Gimenez, DH-1B Kennys Vargas, LHP Hector Santiago, LHP Glen Perkins, LHP Buddy Boshers, RHP Michael Tonkin. Projected Lineup: 2B Brian Dozier (.271, 34 HRs, 93 RBIs, 106 runs), 1B Joe Mauer (.305, 7, 71, .384 OBP), 3B Miguel Sano (.264, 28, 77, 173 Ks in 114 games), DH Logan Morrison (.246, 38, 85, .868 OPS with Rays), LF Eddie Rosario (.290, 27, 78), SS Eduardo Escobar (.254, 21, 73), CF Byron Buxton (.253, 16, 51, 29/30 SBs), RF Max Kepler (.243, 19, 69), C Jason Castro (.242, 10, 47). Rotation: RH Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA, 5 CGs, 211 1/3 IP, expected to begin season on DL), RH Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.89), RH Lance Lynn (11-8, 3.43 with Cardinals), RH Jake Odorizzi (10-8, 4.14 with Rays), RH Kyle Gibson (12-10, 5.07). Key Relievers: RH Fernando Rodney (5-4, 4.23, 39/45 saves with Diamondbacks), RH Addison Reed (2-3, 2.84, 19 saves with Mets and Red Sox), LH Taylor Rogers (7-3, 3.07), LH Zach Duke (1-1, 3.93 in 18 1/3 IP with Cardinals), RH Ryan Pressly (2-3, 4.70), RH Trevor Hildenberger (3-3, 3.21, 1 save), RH Phil Hughes (4-3, 5.87 in 53 2/3 IP). Hot Spot: Left Side Of The Infield. Sano had surgery in November to have a rod inserted in his left shin after a stress reaction kept him out for the last six weeks of the 2017 regular season, and the burly slugger has struggled to keep his weight down. He's also been under investigation by Major League Baseball, facing potential discipline, for alleged harassment of a woman during an encounter in 2015. Jorge Polanco, who got so hot at the plate down the stretch of his first full season as a regular in the lineup that he wound up third in the batting order, was suspended for the first 80 games this season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Escobar can fill in capably at shortstop, but he's also the top backup for Sano if the All-Star has to sit for any reason. Outlook: After their massive 26-win turnaround last season, earning Molitor the AL Manager of the Year award and a new contract through the 2020 season, the Twins were already on the upswing with their 25-and-under core of Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Kepler. Then, after spring training began, they traded for Odorizzi and signed Morrison and Lynn, all at market-bargain prices. They've already had some setbacks, with finger surgery for Santana expected to keep him out for most or all of April, and the gut-punch news of Polanco's suspension, plus the uncertainty that surrounds Sano. But this is a team, even with the bold offseason moves made by AL heavyweights Boston and New York, and the strength of reigning AL Central champion Cleveland, that has the talent and spunk to be right in the playoff mix. With Hughes and Tyler Duffey on track for long-relief roles and a spate of well-regarded prospects set to fill out the rotation at Triple-A Rochester, this is as much starting pitching depth as the Twins have had in years. After using 16 different starters in 2017, they needed that. Rodney, Reed and Duke were important additions to bolster the bullpen, too, after Minnesota relievers ranked 22nd in the majors with a collective 4.40 ERA. ___ Kansas City Royals 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Ned Yost (ninth season). He's Here: RHP Jesse Hahn, CF Jon Jay, 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Justin Grimm. He's Outta Here: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, LHP Jason Vargas, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP Mike Minor, OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Scott Alexander, DH Brandon Moss, RHP Mike Morin, LHP Ryan Buchter, RHP Trevor Cahill. Projected Lineup: CF Jon Jay (.296, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs with Cubs), 2B Whit Merrifield (.288, 19, 78, AL-leading 34 SBs), 3B Mike Moustakas (.272, 38, 85), C Salvador Perez (.268, 27, 80), 1B Lucas Duda (.217, 30, 64 with Mets and Rays), DH Jorge Soler (.144, 2, 6), LF Alex Gordon (.208, 9, 45), RF Paulo Orlando (.198, 2, 6), SS Alcides Escobar (.250, 6, 54). Rotation: LH Danny Duffy (9-10, 3.81 ERA), RH Ian Kennedy (5-13, 5.38), RH Jason Hammel (8-13, 5.29), RH Jakob Junis (9-3, 4.30), RH Nate Karns (2-2, 4.17). Key Relievers: RH Kelvin Herrera (3-3, 4.25, 26/31 saves), RH Wily Peralta (5-4, 7.85 in 19 games, 8 starts with Brewers), RH Brandon Maurer (2-2, 8.10 in 26 games with Royals; 1-4, 5.72 in 42 games with Padres), RH Justin Grimm (1-2, 5.53 with Cubs), LH Brian Flynn (5-3, 5.40 at Triple-A Omaha), RH Kevin McCarthy (1-0, 3.20), RH Brad Keller (10-9, 4.68 ERA at Double-A Jackson). Hot Spots: Just About Everywhere. The Royals struggled to score last year, and losing Hosmer and Cain in free agency won't help. They'll turn to Moustakas, who set a club record for home runs in a season, and newcomers Jay and Duda to ignite the offense. The only starting pitcher with a track record of success is Duffy, while the bullpen features plenty of unproven talent that must show it can close down games if the Royals are to approach .500 this season. Outlook: This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Kansas City, when most of the Royals' top players hit free agency en masse. With Moustakas and Escobar finding little market, both returned to Kansas City with prove-it contracts. That gives the Royals a fighting chance to stay competitive into July, and then all bets are off. But the reality is there are still far too many holes, both in the lineup and on the pitching staff, for the Royals to be considered contenders. They would do well to match the 80 wins they had last season, and could be a big seller at the July 31 trade deadline, which would allow them to replenish a shallow farm system and begin their rebuilding job in earnest. ___ Chicago White Sox 2017: 67-95, fourth place. Manager: Rick Renteria (second season). He's Here: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, C Welington Castillo. He's Outta Here: LHP Derek Holland, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Al Alburquerque, RHP Jake Petricka, C Geovany Soto, OF-2B Alen Hanson, RHP Zach Putnam. Projected Lineup: 2B Yoan Moncada (.231, 8 HRs, 22 RBIs), RF Avisail Garcia (.330, 18, 80), 1B Jose Abreu (.304, 33, 102), DH Matt Davidson (.220, 26, 68), C Welington Castillo (.282, 20, 53 with Orioles), SS Tim Anderson (.257, 17, 56), 3B Yolmer Sanchez (.267, 12, 59), LF Nicky Delmonico (.262, 9, 23), CF Adam Engel (.166, 6, 21). Rotation: RH James Shields (5-7, 5.23 ERA), RH Lucas Giolito (3-3, 2.38), RH Reynaldo Lopez (3-3, 4.72), RH Miguel Gonzalez (8-13, 4.62 with White Sox and Rangers), RH Carson Fulmer (3-1, 3.86) or LH Hector Santiago (4-8, 5.63 with Twins). Key Relievers: RH Nate Jones (1-0, 2.31, 11 appearances), LH Luis Avilan (2-3, 2.93 with Dodgers), RH Joakim Soria (4-3, 3.70, 1 save with Royals), RH Juan Minaya (3-2, 4.53, 9 saves), RH Gregory Infante (2-1, 3.13), RH Danny Farquhar (4-2, 4.20 with White Sox and Rays). Hot Spot: Bullpen. A particular strength for the first half of 2017 is now a major question mark after Chicago traded away Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and closer David Robertson last season. Soria has 204 career saves but his best days might be behind him, and there aren't many other proven late-inning options. Renteria and respected pitching coach Don Cooper might have their hands full mixing and matching while trying to figure out how to hold leads. Outlook: For a team with five straight losing seasons and a record that ranked among baseball's worst last year, the White Sox are generating plenty of buzz. That's because they're loaded with promising young players after going all-in on a rebuild prior to last season. The moves have sparked a belief that better days are ahead. Moncada and hard-throwing pitchers Giolito and Lopez showed promise in the majors last season. Right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and outfielder Luis Robert are elite prospects on their way in the minors. Garcia, coming off a breakout season, is looking to prove he's not a one-hit wonder. Anderson hopes to bounce back from a trying season in which a close friend was shot to death. Abreu is back after the slugger was viewed as a potential trade candidate this winter. Left-hander Carlos Rodon is expected to be out until at least June following shoulder surgery last September. It's not clear when he'll be ready. Rodon also was sidelined at the start a year ago because of shoulder and biceps problems. The big question is whether he'll ever develop into the pitcher the White Sox envisioned when they drafted him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014. ___ Detroit Tigers 2017: 64-98, fifth place. Manager: Ron Gardenhire (first season). He's Here: OF Leonys Martin, RHP Mike Fiers, LHP Francisco Liriano, OF Victor Reyes. He's Outta Here: Manager Brad Ausmus, 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Anibal Sanchez, INF Andrew Romine, RHP Bruce Rondon. Projected Lineup: CF Leonys Martin (.172, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs with Mariners and Cubs), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.283, 3, 16 with Cubs and Tigers), 1B Miguel Cabrera (.249, 16, 60), RF Nicholas Castellanos (.272, 26, 101), DH Victor Martinez (.255, 10, 47), C James McCann (.253, 13, 49), LF Mikie Mahtook (.276, 12, 38), SS Jose Iglesias (.255, 6, 54), 2B Dixon Machado (.259, 1, 11). Rotation: RH Michael Fulmer (10-12, 3.83 ERA), RH Jordan Zimmermann (8-13, 6.08), LH Francisco Liriano (6-7, 5.66 with Blue Jays and Astros), RH Mike Fiers (8-10, 5.22 with Astros), LH Daniel Norris (5-8, 5.31) or LH Matthew Boyd (6-11, 5.27). Key Relievers: RH Shane Greene (4-3, 2.66, 9/13 saves), RH Joe Jimenez (0-2, 12.32), RH Alex Wilson (2-5, 4.50, 2 saves), LH Daniel Stumpf (0-1, 3.82). Hot Spot: The Farm System. After finishing tied for the worst record in baseball last year, the Tigers enter 2018 with no real expectations of success at the big league level, so the question is how quickly the franchise can make it through this rebuilding stage. Franklin Perez, a right-hander acquired last season when Detroit traded Justin Verlander, is expected to be out at least until June with a lat strain, and right-hander Matt Manning is also dealing with an injury. Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows are other pitching prospects to watch as they try to work their way toward the majors. Wins may be few and far between in Detroit, but Tigers fans will hope Cabrera — one star who avoided the roster purge of the last year — can rebound from a rough season. Outlook: The Tigers traded Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez last season, then dealt away Kinsler during the offseason. There could be more big moves on the horizon — Fulmer, Iglesias and Castellanos should all have some trade value, but each of them is young enough that he could be useful to the Tigers when they become competitive again. That's especially true of Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. Barring a huge surprise in terms of on-field results, the biggest suspense this season might revolve around how general manager Al Avila approaches the next few steps in the rebuild......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMar 29th, 2018

Overseas filipinos’ cash remittances (September 2018)

REMITTANCES logged a one-year low in September despite posting a modest increase, the central bank reported yesterday, which led to tempered consumer spending during the period......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsNov 15th, 2018

2018 ILOPRISAA Meet: CPU, Ateneo pace taekwondo events

STUDENT-ATHLETES of Central Philippine University (CPU) and Ateneo de Iloilo (AdI) ruled the taekwondo events of the 2018 Iloilo Private Schools Athletic Association (ILOPRISAA) Meet held at the CPU covered gym, Nov. 14. CPU, this year’s ILOPRISAA host, used their home court advantage to capture the titles in secondary girls and boys. Ateneo, on the […] The post 2018 ILOPRISAA Meet: CPU, Ateneo pace taekwondo events appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsNov 15th, 2018

CPU tops chess, futsal tourneys

WOODPUSHERS from Central Philippine University (CPU) topped the chess tournament of the 2018 Iloilo Private Schools Athletic Association (ILOPRISAA) Meet at the CPU Educational Media Center on Nov. 12. The Centralians are the overall champion in the elementary boys’ after defeating Iloilo Scholastic Academy (ISA) and Iloilo Doctor’s College (IDC), which settled for second and […] The post CPU tops chess, futsal tourneys appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsNov 15th, 2018

Central Market dispute becomes political fodder

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo POLITICS has reared its head in the renewed debate over plans to rehabilitate the Iloilo Central Market. On Nov 5, 2018, Iloilo City government presented to the public the proposed the P866.972-million Iloilo Central Market Redevelopment Plan. The project includes the phase-by-phase restoration of the heritage building, establishment of access roads, a […] The post Central Market dispute becomes political fodder appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsNov 11th, 2018

DAS4LIFE: Unang gold kay Princess Pido ng WCCS

CAGAYAN de Oro City — Hinablot ni Princess Lara Sofia Pido ng West City Central School ang unang gold medal sa Table Tennis matapos talunin si Leofe Marie Ceneza of Puerto National High School, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 sa third at final leg ng 2018 “Differently-Abled Sports 4 LIFE” Paragames sa Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Sports… link: DAS4LIFE: Unang gold kay Princess Pido ng WCCS.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsNov 10th, 2018

October 7, 2018 Visayas Weather Forecast

REGIONAL WEATHER FORECAST Forecast Areas: Visayas, Palawan, Occidental Mindoro Issued at: 6:00 AM, 06 November 2018 Valid Beginning: 6:00 AM today until 6:00 AM tomorrow SYNOPSIS: Easterlies affecting the country. FORECAST: Central and Eastern Visayas & Palawan will have cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorm due to Easterlies. Occidental Mindoro, Western Visayas will have […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsNov 7th, 2018

LAVISH AND AMBITIOUS: Central Market project a race against time?

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo WHILE some vendors and stakeholders welcomed the proposed P866-million Iloilo Central Market upgrading in a public consultation on Nov 5, 2018, other personalities still oppose the plan saying that it is “lavish, ambitious, and a race against time.” Rex Donasco, president of Association of Stall Owners and Transient Vendors (ASTRAVEN) at Central Market, said […] The post LAVISH AND AMBITIOUS: Central Market project a race against time? appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsNov 7th, 2018

Program Implementers Review LNEWS-FNS Project

Program implementers assess the effectiveness of the Local Nutrition Early Warning System of the Food and Nutrition Security (LNEWS-FNS) . The review was held on 26-27 September 2018 at One Central Hotel, Cebu City. Nutrition action officers, local nutrition program coordinators, disaster risk reduction and management officers, agricultural officers, nurses and planning and development officers […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsNov 5th, 2018

CPU Golden Lions clinch cage, volley titles

IT WAS a victorious weekend for Central Philippine University (CPU) as they captured two separate titles in basketball and volleyball. The Golden Lions men’s basketball team is the champion in the Wilson 3×3 U19 basketball tournament held at the PAREF-Westbridge gym on Nov. 3, 2018. The team composed of Jose Glenn Cudo, Victor Demadara, Christian […] The post CPU Golden Lions clinch cage, volley titles appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsNov 5th, 2018

2 Cebu families bag MOFWA 2018 Award

CEBU CITY, Oct. 25 (PIA)--Two Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) families from Cebu bagged top awards during the Model OFW Family of the Year 2018 Awards (MOFYA) in Central Visayas.Department of.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2018

2 Cebu families bag MOFWA 2018 Award

CEBU CITY, Oct. 25 (PIA)--Two Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) families from Cebu bagged top awards during the Model OFW Family of the Year 2018 Awards (MOFYA) in Central Visayas.Department of.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2018

Central Visayas Jumpstarts Child Developmental Milestones Training

Central Visayas jumpstarts the implementation of the Developmental Milestones Training of the Early Childhood Care and Development in the First 1000 Days (ECCD F1K) Program as it held a Training of Trainers (ToT) Phase 3 Training on 30-31 August 2018 at St. Mark Hotel, Barangay Camputhaw, Cebu City. A total of 20 participants representing the […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

PINTAFLORES FOOTBALL: Barotac Nuevo trips CPU

THE team of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo captured the 2018 Pintaflores U17 National Invitational Football Cup after defeating Central Philippine University (CPU), 3-2, in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on Oct. 27. The Domingo Subo-trained booters rediscovered their usual brand of play as they survived the tough defense of the Centralians in a thrilling match. Carl […] The post PINTAFLORES FOOTBALL: Barotac Nuevo trips CPU appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsOct 28th, 2018

Inflation elevated till yearend — BSP

Increases in daily minimum wages are expected to push the overall inflation rate even higher as businesses pass on the added cost to customers by raising prices.WAGE and transport fare hikes will likely keep inflation high for the rest of 2018, the central bank said, adding that overall price increases are expected to moderate only… link: Inflation elevated till yearend — BSP.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsOct 26th, 2018

Inflation elevated till yearend — BSP

WAGE and transport fare hikes will likely keep inflation high for the rest of 2018, the central bank said, adding that overall price increases are expected to moderate only next year......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsOct 25th, 2018

Nicaragua resorts to ‘shoot to kill’ policy

PARIS, France — Nicaragua resorted to a “shoot to kill” strategy to repress recent anti-government protests, human rights group Amnesty International said in a report released in Paris Thursday. Speaking of the deaths of more than 70 demonstrators during anti-government protests in different parts of the Central American country in April and May 2018, Amnesty […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 18th, 2018

October 18, 2018 Visayas Weather Forecast

REGIONAL WEATHER FORECAST Forecast Areas: Visayas, Palawan, Occidental Mindoro Issued at: 6:00 AM, 18 October 2018 Valid Beginning: 6:00 AM today until 6:00 AM tomorrow SYNOPSIS: Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is affecting Palawan, Visayas and Mindanao. FORECAST: Central & Western Visayas and Palawan will have cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms due to ITCZ. […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsOct 18th, 2018

LIST: Senatorial wannabes for 2019 elections

FOURTH UPDATE: 7:50 P.M. / 16 October 2018 It seemed like the 70s all over again as an Aquino, a Roxas, a Diokno, a Taada, and a Marcos launched their formal efforts to become the nation's senators in next year's midterm elections. More familiar names in Philippine politics likewise surfaced on the fourth day of certificates of candidacy (COC) filing before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) central office in Intramuros, Manila on Tuesday, October 16. Former Senator Mar Roxas Roxas was first to file his COC on the fourth day of filing at the Comelec. The former Interior Secretary is seeking a return to the Senate in next year's midterm elections under the opposition Lib...Keep on reading: LIST: Senatorial wannabes for 2019 elections.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018

Overseas Filipinos’ cash remittances (August 2018)

CASH remittances slipped in August from a year ago due to lower inflows from the Middle East, the central bank said on Monday, which could signal softer household spending in the third quarter. Read the full story. The post Overseas Filipinos’ cash remittances (August 2018) appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018

2018-19 NBA Preview: It s the Warriors, and then everyone else

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will be at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night, handing the Golden State Warriors what will be their third set of championship rings from the last four seasons. A banner will be displayed. Highlights will be shown. And then the Warriors will have to start all over again. The NBA’s 73rd season starts Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), beginning a year where LeBron James will play for the Los Angeles Lakers, where Carmelo Anthony will aim to push the Houston Rockets over the top, where Dwyane Wade will take his 16th and final lap around the league. A new arena is opening in Milwaukee, eight teams will have new coaches, and everyone will be looking to see if the Warriors can win a third straight title. “None of us are ready for this run to come to an end,” said Golden State’s Draymond Green, part of all three Warriors’ titles in this four-year run of dominance. “So we’ve got to continue to approach it like we’ve got zero. And that’s cliche and impossible to do, but you want to try to get as close to that as you possibly can. And that’s my mindset always entering the season.” They will be the overwhelming favorites, with good reason. The Warriors still have Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Green, plus added All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins — coming off an injury — on a bargain $5.3 million deal. And calling all the shots is coach Steve Kerr, who won five rings as a player and now three more as a coach. “If they don’t win, it’s a failure,” Memphis guard Mike Conley Jr. said. “I know that’s how they feel as well. For us, for the other 29 teams, we’re the underdog. We’re trying to take what they have. It’s a lot easier playing from the underdog perspective than coming in with a lot of expectation.” In this NBA, everybody else is an underdog. That even applies to Houston — which won 65 games last season, has the reigning MVP in James Harden, an elite point guard in Chris Paul who re-signed for $160 million this summer, a deep-pocketed owner in Tilman Fertitta and an always-tinkering GM in Daryl Morey. The Rockets had the Warriors against the ropes in last season’s Western Conference finals, leading that series 3-2 yet falling after Paul was lost to a hamstring injury. “We’ve all got one goal, man,” Harden said. “You’ll keep hearing the same story over and over until I’m not here no more. We’ve got to win a ’chip. We’ve all got the same goal. We kind of, a little bit, we kind of know what it takes to almost get there. But we haven’t gotten there yet.” The Warriors are the best team and the Rockets had the best record, but the best player is now in L.A. After 15 seasons in the Eastern Conference, James — who has played in each of the last eight NBA Finals — has moved West. He signed a four-year deal in July with the Lakers, one that makes him the biggest star on the league’s glitziest franchise. He’s teamed up with talented young players like Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, and former rivals like Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson. “I’m a basketball player,” James said. “I play ball. That’s what I do and that’s what I live by. And when I do it at the level I do it at, everything else takes care of itself.” The only certainty in the NBA this season is that James won’t win the East — ending an eight-year run of that, four in Miami and four in Cleveland. Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto (with the newly acquired Kawhi Leonard) are the top candidates to take over as East champions. The Celtics had a Game 7, at home, to get to the NBA Finals last season and lost to James and Cleveland, but now get Gordon Hayward back and a healthy Kyrie Irving again. Miami has been trying to get Jimmy Butler from Minnesota, and if they do — someone will get Butler before the trade deadline — the Heat may be able to get back into East contention. It might be Dirk Nowitzki’s last season in Dallas. Gregg Popovich no longer has Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili with him in San Antonio, and the Spurs (who have been battered by injuries, including one to point guard Dejounte Murray) are no lock to extend their 21-year run of playoff appearances. Sneakerheads will have a big season, because the NBA now says players may wear whatever colors of kicks that they want. There’s plenty of stories. But in the end, it’ll be all about someone finding a way to beat Golden State — or not. “I’ll get back to you when somebody cracks that code,” Wade said. “In this game, the most important thing is health. If they stay healthy, it’s tough to beat them. There’s teams that can, but you’ve got to do it, and you’re going to have to do it four times.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018