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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Alex Rodriguez’s request to play field in Yankees finale denied

08.12.16 at 8:04 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Diamondbacks at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cardinals at Cubs, 2 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (Fox)
MLB: Tigers at Rangers, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Orioles at Giants, 11 p.m. (MLB Network)
Little League Baseball: New England semifinals, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL preseason: Lions at Steelers, 7 p.m. (NFL Network)
NFL preseason: Raiders at Cardinals, 10 p.m. (NFL Network)
Olympics: Men’s water polo, United States vs. Montenegro, 10:40 a.m. (USA Network)
Olympics: Women’s volleyball, United States vs. Italy, 1 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s basketball, United States vs. Canada, 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s basketball, United States vs. Serbia, 6 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Swimming, 9 p.m. (NBC)


— Alex Rodriguez will play his final game with the Yankees on Friday night — after going 0-for-4 with an RBI ground out in Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Red Sox (while being lustily booed) — and he’ll be back at designated hitter, despite his request to play the field one last time.

Rodriguez told reporters at Fenway on Thursday that he was hoping to play third base in his finale at Yankee Stadium, but it won’t go down that way.

“Tuesday I came into [manager Joe Girardi’s] office and he told me what the plan was,” Rodriguez said. “And I said, ‘Any chance I can play third base on Friday?’ He just said, ‘No.’

“It would’ve been fun. It wasn’t a big request. I get that we’re still [trying to win] games. I totally get the answer.”

Rodriguez has started at third base only 29 times since 2012 and hasn’t taken many ground balls there lately.

“I mean, we thought about it, but he hasn’t done any work,” Girardi explained. “And we’re still in the business of trying to win games here. It’s not like I wouldn’t like to see it, but we’re still in that part of the season where we’re trying to win this.”

Rodriguez, who agreed to serve as an adviser to the Yankees after Friday, will become a free agent upon his release, which comes with a $27 million parting gift as his contract runs through next season. There has been speculation that he could sign with his hometown Marlins in an attempt to hit some milestones (he’s four home runs away from 700), but he said he hasn’t through about that possibility.

“At this point, I’ve been so focused on this week,” Rodriguez said. “I have plenty of emotion. I don’t have any time or energy to focus on anything else. I’m just really looking forward to my last seven or eight at-bats.”

Added Rodriguez: “I’m sure I’ll wake up in the morning and it will be very emotional. My family, my girls get in at mid-day. [Friday] is about me thanking the fans for putting up with me for such a long time. They’ve been with me through thick and thin.”

— Patrick Roy surprised the Avalanche on Thursday by announcing he is stepping down as coach and vice president of hockey operations due to disagreements within the organization.

In a statement released through a Quebec-based public relations agency, the Hall of Fame goalie said: “I have thought long and hard over the course of the summer about how I might improve this team to give it the depth it needs and bring it to a higher level. To achieve this, the vision of the coach and VP-Hockey Operations needs to be perfectly aligned with that of the organization. He must also have a say in the decisions that impact the team’s performance. These conditions are not currently met.”

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The Night Of Deep Dive: What if Naz actually did it?

08.11.16 at 7:58 pm ET
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The premiere of “The Night Of” was arguably 2016’s best hour of television.  It so distinctly established itself as something different, I found myself amazed that:

A. HBO released it early on its on-demand platforms (a move reserved for shows that struggle to find an audience).

B. A bigger deal was not made of the fact it was available when it hit the internet. For all of the discussions this show is generating, it should be generating twice that amount. I’m both disappointed and ecstatic that as a collective TV-mystery-sleuthing-cultural-task-force, we are yet to crack the mystery of “Who Killed Andrea Cornish?” Disappointed because the best theories out there right now either that the step-dad or a guy named after New York’s version of CVS did it, and ecstatic because we have three more weeks of #PeakTV to roll around in.  

This is the type of show that any Golden Age of Television truther craves: a patient, aesthetically pleasing crime drama with the DNA of a Mount Rushmore of Modern Age Media discussion pumping through its veins — “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Serial,” and “True Detective.”  

Since its debut episode, many viewers have argued that the slow-burn pace of the show has overshadowed the actual plot. If that is your take, you’re correct. This is not “The Night Of: Special Victim’s Unit.” If that is deterring you from sticking with the show, then you’re making the completely wrong move. Simply put: if you like TV, then this type of show is good for you. There is a reason why HBO paired this show with “Ballers” and “Vice Principals” — you have to eat all your vegetables before we roll out the ice cream.  

Shows like “The Night Of” are very rare, even more so in the United States. “The Night Of” is a limited series; there are eight episodes and that is it. While anthology series are all the rage now on cable — “Fargo,” “American Horror Story,” “True Detective” — there is an inherent sense of “we’re gonna get a few cracks at this to get it right.” Even though each season is a standalone story, they are connected thematically and designed to share lots of similarities. Within that, the audience knows that there will be multiple attempts for these anthologies to make up for any lackluster seasons. I don’t know if anyone really loved “American Horror Story: Hotel” and I doubt it will dissuade people from watching whatever “AHS: 6″ winds up being.  

A show like “The Night Of” doesn’t have that luxury, not that it needs it. This eight-episode dissection is all we’re getting, and that is a good thing.  To put this in context, the three episode stretch of Naz acclimating to prison, John Stone’s gross feet, and the back and forth between legal teams representing our protagonist, was essentially season two of “The Wire.” While maybe the crisis at the docks isn’t your favorite part of that series, it’s all connected and a necessary part of the experience. Could you imagine bailing on McNulty, Bunk, and Kima because you didn’t like Ziggy and the Sobotkas?  You would have missed so much Omar!  

Part Five of “The Night Of,” “The Season of the Witch,” was the clear end to the second act of the show as each of our main characters met with some serious conflict all circling around the central question we’ve largely refused to ask ourselves: Who Is Nasir Khan? Seriously… who is he?  Throughout the show, we’ve assumed he is a good guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He is the son of immigrant parents. He is the smart kid who is doing the best with the opportunity he has earned.  He is a math whiz. Every single fiber of our TV watching being has been trained to think that this guy didn’t do it. But what if he did?  

One theory I keep coming back to in every episode deconstruction is that in dealing with Naz we’re dealing with an unreliable narrator, which is defined as a first person character whose credibility has been seriously compromised.  While “The Night Of” isn’t told from a first person point of view in the same was as its contemporary prestige-y dramas like “The Affair” or “Mr. Robot” – two other shows that lean almost exclusively on this narrative device – the idea that Naz doesn’t quite have a handle on what happened on October 24th, 2014 is developing into the most pivotal plot point in the story.    

As highlighted in The Season of the Witch, Naz’s tox screen came back reading like a recipe for bad news: ecstasy, alcohol, ketamine, and amphetamine. When his legal team – John and Chandra – present him with this information, Naz is visibly shaken. Even taking into account the incredibly stressful situation Naz finds himself in during that moment – he is trying to complete a drug hand-off for Freddy – he is agitated by Stone poking holes in his “just a Kid from Queens” persona. It takes several direct accusations but Naz finally admits to using Adderall– the likely source of the amphetamine in his blood.  

Question: Is this the behavior of a character you can trust?  

As the waiting room hand-off unfolds, John launches into a laundry list of reasons why a college kid taking Adderall who is also on trial for murder is a bad thing:

“1. Without a prescription it’s illegal. 2. You weren’t up studying you were going to a party. 3. It counteracts the sedative effects of the K making your ‘I passed out story’ less believable. 4. You take enough of it, it makes you psychotic. 5. You lied to me.  So I’m going to ask you because your life depends on it: What else have lied about?”

As all of these accusations are being hurled his way, Naz is trying to time the distraction of a prison guard to the exact moment when his accomplice, Petey, will be walking by him with a hand full of eight balls that he must then dry swallow in front of his lawyer. Lots to process for both main character and audience. I had to re-watch the scene five times to catch Stone’s entire list of ‘drugs are bad’ bullet points.  

The audience is being manipulated purposefully into confusion to show that Naz can’t things straight when situations get stressful, even when those stressful situations are controlled and he knows what is coming.  

This point is driven home in the next scene when Naz has to deliver the product in front of Freddy and his team. After passing the three bags he swallowed, Naz insists there are four, a statement with which Petey instantly agrees. Petey’s reasons aside (stress, the knowledge that if he says there are only three the obvious implication is that he and Naz are trying to hide the fourth from Freddy, etc.), we know Naz is wrong. The audience has watched Naz swallow three eight balls, not four.  This is done to show us that no matter how stressful the situation, no matter how much danger or perceived danger he is in, Naz’s recollection of the situation is flawed. He is as unreliable a narrator as you can get.  

Question: How can this character, all things considered, be counted on to remember anything and what proof do we have that we should believe him?  

In trying to answer these questions, I did a little digging on Wikipedia, and I thought this example summed it perfectly:

Sometimes the narrator’s unreliability is made immediately evident. For instance, a story may open with the narrator making a plainly false or delusional claim or admitting to being severely mentally ill, or the story itself may have a frame in which the narrator appears as a character, with clues to the character’s unreliability. A more dramatic use of the device delays the revelation until near the story’s end. This twist ending forces readers to reconsider their point of view and experience of the story. In some cases the narrator’s unreliability is never fully revealed but only hinted at, leaving readers to wonder how much the narrator should be trusted and how the story should be interpreted.

So what else is Naz misremembering?  

Naz’s guilt or innocence hangs in the balance of what he both remembers and is willing to admit, and after “The Season of The Witch,” that is not an easy thing to pin down. Consciously, Naz believes he is innocent, but unconsciously he might know something different, with his physical transformation being the biggest hint. In addition to trying mirror Freddy physically – boxing, the tight space workouts, and big dogging Treach from Naughty By Nature after deciding the TV room will be watching Ellen – Naz decides to shave his head. In any visual storytelling medium, that is a sign of transformation and it rarely carries a positive connotation.  

Elsewhere in prestige cable land, a close-up scene of a primary character shaving his head is the manifestation of guilt. Walter White shaves his head and commits to becoming Heisenberg. He evolves from mild-mannered science teacher to Caucasian Scarface. It doesn’t happen immediately, but the ball is now rolling.  On the “Walking Dead,” Shane – a most reluctant villain – shaves his head after literally throwing someone in front of a horde of animated flesh monsters in order to save himself.  Instead of admitting to the other survivors what he did, he shaves his head and things get more evil from there.  His evolution into villainy is a bit faster — from people’s champion in post-apocalyptic Atlanta to zombie in no time flat.  

In both cases, the change comes from the character struggling to come to grips with their specific actions. It’s the easiest way to show the audience that there is something the character is struggling with. Very literally, they have a hard time looking themselves in the mirror and opt to make a drastic change.  

While Naz probably won’t become the Walter White of Rikers Island and I doubt the final twist of “The Night Of” is that the dead rise from their graves, there are real monsters at play here. More so than the evil step-dad, the random guy from the funeral, or the elusive Duane Reed, the evidence we have points to Naz having the most potential to evolve into the monster we’ve been hunting. He remembers more than he is letting on even if he isn’t ready to admit it.  


Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Alex Rodriguez opens up, admits he ‘acted like an ass’ in fighting PED suspension

08.11.16 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Padres at Pirates, 12:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Orioles at Athletics, 3:35 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Cubs, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
Little League Baseball: New England semifinals, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL preseason: Saints at Patriots, 7:30 p.m. (WBZ-TV, NFL Network)
Olympics: Men’s volleyball, United States vs. Brazil, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s field hockey, United States vs. India, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s beach volleyball, United States vs. Italy, 10 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s beach volleyball, United States vs. Russia, 10 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s water polo, United States vs. China, 10 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s gymnastics individual all-around, 8 p.m. (NBC)


— Alex Rodriguez finally made a plate appearance at Fenway Park, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning Wednesday and flying out during the Yankees’ 9-4 victory. He was received with loud boos from the Fenway crowd, which for the second straight night implored manager Joe Girardi to play the retiring slugger with chants of “We want A-Rod.”

Before the game, New York radio station WFAN aired an interview with Rodriguez in which he acknowledged he “acted like an ass” two years ago after his connections to the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug facility in Florida were revealed, leading to him being suspended for the entire 2014 season. Rodriguez sent his attack dogs after a number of people to whom he was close, including his cousin and confidante Yuri Sucart, and filed lawsuits against the Yankees, Major League Baseball, then-commissioner Bud Selig and the MLB Players Association in a desperate attempt to avoid punishment.

“I’m upset about the mistakes, and I’m disappointed,” Rodriguez told WFAN’s Suzyn Waldman. “But I’m even more disappointed that I acted like an ass.”

Added A-Rod: “I hope to be able to pay it forward and let youngsters know about my mistakes.”

Rodriguez said he remembered Waldman encouraging him after his ban was over.

“You said to me, ‘Alex, I want to see that young man who was full of life with a great smile,’ ” Rodriguez recalled. “I’ve done everything in my power to try to be that kid again.”

Meanwhile, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was peppered with questions about his decision not to start Rodriguez for the first two games of this series after saying at Rodriguez’s Sunday press conference that A-Rod would play. Girardi has admitted getting caught up in the emotion Sunday before changing his mind.

“My job description does not entail a farewell tour,” Girardi said Wednesday. “My job description is to try to win every game and to try to put everyone in the best possible position to do that, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Added Girardi: “I have a responsibility to the game of baseball. No one individual is ever bigger than this game. No one. No one. No one.”

— Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall was suspended by the school for his actions in an exhibition game Tuesday against McGill University in Montreal. Marshall, frustrated with the officiating, became irate and caused a scene on the court after receiving his second technical foul and being ejected. Assistant coaches and players tried to hold back Marshall, but he pushed them away and appeared to become angry with them, not leaving until he got his chance to have his say with the officials.

“I’m definitely not proud of my reaction to that situation, but at some point your players have to know you’re going to stand up for them and you’ve got some fight in you,” Marshall told the Wichita Eagle after the game, which Wichita rallied to win. “Once I reacted, I said, ‘I might as well get my money’s worth.’ ”

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Bills linebacker Reggie Ragland expected to miss entire season

08.10.16 at 12:47 pm ET
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Reggie Ragland

Reggie Ragland

The always-quotable Rex Ryan declared in June that the Bills “won the offseason.” Just about a month away from the regular season, it would be tough to make that case, following another injury to the team’s lineup. On Wednesday, the Bills announced that linebacker Reggie Ragland most likely will miss the entire season with a torn ligament in his left knee. Ragland is expected to have surgery to repair the ACL sometime this week. Ragland hurt his knee in practice last Friday while going after a ball carrier.

The Bills traded three draft picks to be able to select Ragland out of Alabama in the second round of this year’s draft. Buffalo’s first-round draft choice, pass rusher Shaq Lawson, also is sidelined for at least a month because he underwent shoulder surgery in May.

On Sunday the Bills signed David Hawthorne and former Patriot Brandon Spikes to help with depth at linebacker.

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ESPN announcer John Saunders dead at 61

08.10.16 at 11:34 am ET
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John Saunders

John Saunders

Longtime ESPN announcer John Saunders died at the age of 61, the network announced Wednesday. No cause of death was given.

“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement. “His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

“He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”

In addition to anchoring SportsCenter and hosting studio shows, including “The Sports Reporters,” Saunders covered college football, basketball and NHL since joining the network in 1986.

A native of Canada, Saunders played college hockey at Western Michigan before switching to the broadcast side.

“John Saunders represented everything that was good in a human being. He was all about family and helping people,” said ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale. “He was as good as it gets and he had deep loyalty and love for others. His work with The V Foundation was so special — he loved Jimmy V and poured his heart and soul into the cause.”

“He was always willing to share and give and he played a vital role in the success of helping so many. I can’t believe this stunning and horrible news. He will be forever in our thoughts.”

Saunders leaves his wife and two daughters.

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Indians manager Terry Francona leaves game after suffering chest pains

08.10.16 at 8:01 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Phillies at Dodgers, 3 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Indians at Nationals, 6 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: U.S. Open Cup semifinal, FC Dallas at Galaxy, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Olympics: Men’s water polo, United States vs. France, 10:40 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s rugby, United States vs. Fiji, 12:30 p.m. (USA Network)
Olympics: Women’s volleyball, United States vs. Serbia, 1 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s basketball, United States vs. Serbia, 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s field hockey, United States vs. Japan, 4 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s basketball, United States vs. Australia, 6 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Swimming, 9 p.m. (NBC)


Terry Francona

Terry Francona

— On the same day Giants manager Bruce Bochy was released from a Miami hospital after spending a night under observation with an undisclosed illness, Indians manager Terry Francona left his team’s game against the Nationals after suffering chest pains while conducting his pregame session with the media.

“I don’t think I’m having a heart attack,” Francona told reporters when he started feeling uncomfortable. “If I’m having one, just don’t take my answers if they’re bad answers.”

Francona, whose medical history includes two pulmonary embolisms, remained at Nationals Park for the start of the game after being examined by stadium medical personnel and saying he was feeling better. Although he complained of dizziness and sweats, the 57-year-old former Red Sox boss was spotted in the dugout while bench coach Brad Mills ran the team, then he went back to his hotel room.

“We really haven’t talked to him, yet, and I really don’t know,” Mills said after the game when asked about Francona’s status. “He started feeling ill and I know the doctors checked him out and so forth, and they just felt it would be better for him to probably go back to the hotel. And he did.

“Knowing him, he was probably really agonizing during the game. But I think he’s doing fine, hopefully. We’ll see how it works out for tomorrow.”

Mills, who guided the AL Central-leading Indians to a 3-1 victory in the interleague affair, said the team was encouraged by Francona’s demeanor after his examination.

“Everybody cares about him,” Mills said. “Everybody likes him. I think it was good that they were able to see him at least walk from the training room to his office. I think that really helped.”

Meanwhile, Bochy, 61, did not share the reason for his visit to the hospital after returning to manage his team Tuesday night. He underwent a procedure in February 2015 to insert two stents to aid his heart, and he had arthroscopic left shoulder surgery shortly before spring training.

“I’m back at work,” Bochy said in a text message to The Associated Press.

— Prince Fielder’s career is in jeopardy as the Rangers slugger is not expected to receive clearance from doctors to play again after his second neck surgery, according to reports out of Texas.

Fielder, who had a cervical fusion on July 29 to repair a herniation between two disks in his neck — and he had a similar procedure two years earlier — will discuss the situation with the media Wednesday.

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Read More: Bruce Bochy, Lane Johnson, prince fielder, Terry Francona

New Jersey’s latest bid for legal sports gambling fails

08.09.16 at 11:51 am ET
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A federal appeals court on Tuesday once again denied New Jersey’s lengthy attempt to legalize sports betting, specifically at racetracks and casinos.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that New Jersey’s wish to bring Las-Vegas style sports gambling to its horse racing tracks and casinos was in violation of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, which limits betting on sports to only a few states.

Ten of the judges ruled against the state, while Judges Julio Fuentes and Thomas Vanaskie gave dissenting opinions.

The NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues — MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL — have sued New Jersey repeatedly since 2012, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie authorized the state to allow legal sports betting. The leagues got involved months later. The state has struggled in its fight for legalized sports betting, as the majority of the court rulings have been in favor of the leagues and the NCAA.

Nevada is currently the only state to allow betting on individual games, while Delaware offers parlay betting on multiple games where players must pick several games correctly to win.

In his dissent released on Tuesday, Fuentes argued that New Jersey’s repeal on laws against sports betting did not mean it was permitting sports betting. He wrote that he does not see how the state’s repeal is “tantamount to authorizing by law a sports wagering scheme in violation PASPA.”

State Senator Raymond Lesniak, who is in front of the sports betting campaign, has said he’ll ask the United States Supreme Court to hear the case.

“It’s a long shot, but at least we have two dissenting votes on our side,” Lesniak said Tuesday morning.

Read More: New Jersey, sports gambling,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Former NFL QB Tim Tebow to make bid at baseball career

08.09.16 at 8:05 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Indians at Nationals, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA Super Cup, Real Madrid vs. Sevilla, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: U.S. Open Cup semifinals, Fire at Revolution, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Olympics: Women’s water polo, United States vs. Spain, 10 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s volleyball, United States vs. Italy, 1 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s soccer, United States vs. Colombia, 5 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Swimming, women’s gymnastics, 8 p.m. (NBC)


Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow

— Tim Tebow is making another run at the pros — only this time, it will be baseball instead of football.

Tebow’s agents revealed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the former NFL quarterback has been working out the past year as an outfielder and plans to hold a tryout for major league teams later this month.

An all-state baseball player in Florida who hit .494 as a junior, Tebow has not played a full baseball season since his senior year of high school in 2005.

“Obviously we support Tim in his pursuit of a baseball career, as we have in all his ventures,” Tebow’s football agent, Jimmy Sexton, told Schefter.

“Tim’s athletic ability, his work ethic, his leadership and his competitiveness were evident in football and will show in baseball. Knowing Tim’s passion and desire, we won’t be surprised by anything he accomplishes.”

Tebow, who turns 29 Sunday, has been working as an analyst for ESPN, and he is expected to remain in that role during his baseball bid.

The Heisman Trophy winner as a sophomore at Florida in 2007, Tebow played for the Broncos and Jets before signing with the Patriots in 2013, but he never made it out of training camp.

— Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib practiced Monday for the first time since suffering a gunshot wound to his right leg on June 5 in an incident at a Dallas bar.

Taleb, who missed the first 10 days of training camp, was limited in practice, participating for about 35 minutes, but was excited to return to the field.

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow,

Photos: U.S. highlights from 2016 Summer Olympics

08.08.16 at 9:59 am ET
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After the first weekend of the Rio Olympics, the United States leads all countries with 12 medals and is tied for first with three golds. As is usually the case, it’s USA swimming that has grabbed the early headlines, with Katie Ledecky setting a world record to win gold in the 400-meter freestyle and Michael Phelps winning his 19th Olympic gold as a member of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay team.

Check out our running Olympics photo gallery on Facebook for all the best U.S. moments throughout the Games.

Michael Phelps and Caleb Dressel celebrate their gold in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. (Rob Schumacher/USA Today)

Michael Phelps and Caleb Dressel celebrate their gold in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. (Rob Schumacher/USA Today)

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Unforgiving New York media not convinced by latest Alex Rodriguez ‘con job’

08.08.16 at 8:21 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Giants at Marlins, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Olympics: Women’s basketball, United States vs. Spain, 11 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s volleyball, United States vs. Netherlands, 2 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s gymnastics, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s basketball, United States vs. Venezuela, 6 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics, Swimming, 9 p.m. (NBC)


— The New York media soured on Alex Rodriguez a long time ago, and they were not in a forgiving mood when an emotional A-Rod announced Sunday that he will play his final game for the Yankees on Friday before becoming a special adviser to the team.

Speculation immediately began that Rodriguez — four home runs shy of 700 — will change his mind and hook on with another team in an attempt to reach another milestone before he walks away for good.

“I think he believes he still can [play], but this [adviser] relationship with the Yankees is going to move forward now,” YES analyst John Flaherty said. “And I wonder after a couple of weeks if Alex Rodriguez says: ‘You know what, I miss this [game already] so much I want to revisit [my decision to retire].’ ”

Rodriguez was peppered with questions about whether Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner pushed him into retirement, offering him a chance to leave with some grace instead of being released (with almost $27 million remaining on his contract for the rest of this season and next year).

“I don’t think the conversations got that aggressive,” said the 41-year-old Rodriguez, who is hitting just .205. “I didn’t think they needed to. I have immense respect for Hal Steinbrenner. I really focused on the positive part of the conversation.”

Steinbrenner added to the skepticism by skipping the press conference and instead issuing a press release, while general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that Rodriguez could decide to play for another team after Friday, saying: “He does have the ability to do that, or go into broadcasting. … He can do anything he wants.”

New York Daily News columnist Bob Raissman called the announcement “just another victimless con job in the world of sports.”

Newsday’s David Lennon wrote: “This was a bitter, inevitable divorce spun as a conscious uncoupling.”

In the New York Post, Joel Sherman compared A-Rod’s decision to accept his release to when he said he would fight his drug suspension in 2014 but eventually relented.

Wrote Sherman: “Let’s be clear that for the second time in 2 1/2 years, Alex Rodriguez simply accepted the inevitable and relented to do what was best for Alex Rodriguez. … Again, he saw the inevitable, figured out what was best for himself — and blinked.”

— The NFL season got off to a rocky start Sunday night as the league canceled the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, due to poor field conditions.

“This is a hard decision, but we know it is the right decision,” Hall president David Baker said. “In some respects a hard decision because of the impact it has. This is an important game to the people in Canton.”

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