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Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will have his sprained right ankle immobilized in a boot for five to seven days and then will be evaluated, keeping open the possibility that he will play again this season.

Rizzo had to be helped off the field Sunday after turning his ankle while fielding a sacrifice bunt. He underwent an MRI on Monday that revealed a moderate lateral right ankle sprain, according to the team. X-rays on Sunday did not reveal a fracture.

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“I have every intention of doing everything I can with the training staff to be back on the field with the boys,” Rizzo told reporters before the Cubs beat the Reds 8-2 on Monday night. “I think in a few days, really, will tell us a lot more.”

Victor Caratini was in the lineup at first base Monday. Manager Joe Maddon said that Ian Happ, who replaced Rizzo on Sunday, will also see time there.

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Playing for October, Cubs preach ‘next guy jumps in’ mantra with Rizzo, Baez out
Rizzo, who is known for charging hard on bunt attempts, broke toward the plate in the top of the third inning when Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams squared to bunt. As he neared the ball, Rizzo’s foot appeared to dig into the turf and his right ankle turned.

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After being tended to by a Cubs trainer and Maddon, Rizzo was helped to the dugout, not putting much weight on the right foot.

“We’re gonna miss Riz, we already miss Javy, but I really believe the rest of the group is up to the task,” Maddon said, referring to Chicago’s postseason pursuit already being hindered by a fractured-thumb injury to shortstop Javier Baez.

The Cubs hold the second wild card, one game ahead of the Brewers. They trail the Nationals by a half-game for the first wild card and the Cardinals by two games for the NL Central lead. They play St. Louis seven times down the stretch.

Cubs president Theo Epstein said the team will know more about its options for Rizzo once he is out of the walking boot.

“Once we get past that period of time, then we can see if there are ways to manage the discomfort,” Epstein said. “If there are ways through taping to give him some stability to give him at least a chance to contribute in some way down the road.

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“We’re not shutting any doors but we’re realistic that this was a legitimate injury that under ideal circumstances would take some time to heal.”

The owners of the Chicago Cubs have locked up long-term financing on their massive redevelopment of the area outside Wrigley Field.

A venture of the Ricketts family, which owns the team, last month replaced its construction loan for the Gallagher Way plaza and Hotel Zachary across the street from the historic ballpark with a $140 million mortgage, Cook County property records show.

The move solidifies the Ricketts venture’s long-term ownership of the development, part of the family’s larger strategy of revamping and controlling the real estate assets around the ballpark to help generate new revenue, structure fans’ game-day experience and keep people coming to Wrigleyville when the Cubs are away or during the offseason.

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The family took a key step toward that goal in 2011 when it paid $20 million for the 1-acre property across Clark Street from the stadium that was then occupied by a McDonald’s restaurant and a parking lot. The Ricketts family’s development venture, Hickory Street Capital, has since redeveloped the property into the Hotel Zachary as it built the plaza—now known as Gallagher Way under a sponsorship deal—on a triangle-shaped property adjacent to the ballpark.
Hickory Street took out a $130.2 million construction loan from Wintrust Bank in November 2015 to build the open-air plaza, a 173-room hotel and a six-story mixed-use building that houses the team’s offices, meeting space and a series of ground-floor shops. The venture modified that into a $151.9 million loan in July 2017, public records show, before refinancing it with a fixed-rate $140 million loan from real estate investment firm Barings. A Hickory Street spokesman said the Ricketts family paid down nearly $12 million in principal on the modified construction loan.

“Their intent is to be very, very long-term neighbors in Lakeview and Wrigleyville,” said Jones Lang LaSalle Senior Managing Director Danny Kaufman, who along with JLL Director Chris Knight represented Hickory Street Capital in securing the new loan. “Their goal with this real estate is to plant a sturdy, stable set of properties in the heart of Wrigleyville and operate them well.”

Gallagher Way is one of the focal points of the Cubs owners’ recently completed renovation of Wrigley Field and redevelopment of its surroundings, a project that far surpassed more than half a billion dollars of investment, according to the team.

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The Cubs hold year-round programming such as concerts, movies and an ice-skating rink in winter in the 30,000-square-foot Gallagher Way plaza and allow fans with tickets there during games.

Separately, public records show ventures of the Ricketts family in recent years have spent more than $25 million to buy many of the rooftop properties across Waveland and Sheffield avenues from the stadium to better control ballpark advertising and ticket sales at those venues.

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For the first time in a while, the Mariners weren’t playoff-adjacent in 2019. Depending on your point-of-view, over the last decade the Mariners have either been the worst playoff contender or the greatest also-ran in baseball. Rarely a thoroughly dreadful team, the mid to late 2010s Mariners were a fringe playoff threat in most seasons, typically flirting with contender status before staying home to listen to old Morrissey albums. It’s now been 18 years since the last time Seattle played postseason baseball. Team executive VP/GM Jerry Dipoto is banking on the notion that the organization can remedy that state of affairs with a quick retooling, initiated before the team reached the direst of straits.

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The 2018 Seattle Mariners played baseball quite adequately, winning 89 games, the team’s most since 2003. It wasn’t enough to punch a ticket to October, thanks to the Houston Astros winning 103 games and it taking a 97-win season merely to tie with the second wild card team, the Oakland A’s. The Mariners made it interesting and were able to stay close to the Astros for most of the year. The team’s divisional deficit didn’t permanently stretch to more than five games until late August. They scared Houston for a while, grabbing sole possession of first-place for part of June. Perhaps most impressively, the Mariners did it with bandaids and duct tape; former cornerstone players Félix Hernández and Kyle Seager were no longer stars, and second baseman Robinson Canó missed most of the midseason thanks to an 80-game suspension for a banned substance.

After the season, the Mariners made a rare decision for an 89-win team: they blew it up. The decision to enter a rebuild is a hard one, typically resulting in multiple years of struggle. But one of the advantages of going this route is that the Mariners were better able to control their destiny. Unlike the Orioles or the pre-Luhnow Astros, Seattle wasn’t forced to take a long view by having a system devoid of talent at the major and minor league levels.

For an extremely active executive like Jerry Dipoto, having a lot of options is important. The 2018-2019 Mariners were still able to find someone interested in Canó, and rather than treating a closer as a player you build around *coughRedscough*, they bundled Edwin Diaz with some cash and were able to land Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. In addition to getting two of their top five prospects from the Mets — both ranked 50 or better by THE BOARD — the Mets picked up some spare baubles in Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista. Even Jay Bruce, mostly brought in to make the cash work, has been occasionally useful in recent years.

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In the space of just a couple of weeks, the Mariners shipped out James Paxton, Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, Alex Colomé, and Carlos Santana. Santana may be the best example of the velocity with which the Mariners made moves over the winter; his brief stint in Seattle was even shorter than the notorious Piazza-as-Marlin week. Santana never played a game as a Mariner, the equivalent of one of those Star Trek episodes where they accidentally change history and then someone disappears from the timeline because, well, they have to get everything back to normal because the hour is up.

Seattle’s general strategy was to start a quicker retooling and keep fan interest up, though the fans have been unusually supportive of a team that has largely treaded water and gone so long without October baseball. While a lousy 2019 was inevitably going to hurt attendance that had stayed relatively steady, turning it around quickly could mean the team only experiences a slight blip in terms of fan support.

The Projection
ZiPS saw the Mariners as a much-weakened team coming into 2019, but at a mean projection of 76-86, they were still close enough to have a 1-in-25 chance of making the playoffs. A 3.9% postseason probability isn’t the most exciting thing by any stretch of the imagination, but think of it this way: in the majors in 2019, a home run has been hit in 3.7% of plate appearances. Are you shocked and awed when someone hits a home run in 2019? Well, unless you’re a Marlins fan?

Despite the trades, Seattle’s 2019 position wasn’t immediately bleak, and I maintain that the playoff hopes were as reasonable as the projections thought. 2018’s outta-the-blue star, Mitch Haniger, was still on the team, and Bruce, Edwin Encarnación, and Domingo Santana all had the potential to make up at least some of the missing offense. Kyle Seager and Félix Hernández weren’t so far removed from productive years, and the Mariners also added NPB veteran Yusei Kikuchi to help counteract the loss of Paxton.

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This team wasn’t obviously doomed going into the season.

The Results
For a brief, shining moment, it looked like the Mariners were going to crush expectations. They swept the two-game series in Japan against the Athletics on the back of an emotional farewell to Ichiro Suzuki, and started the year winning 13 of 15 games. That was good enough to establish a four-game lead in the AL West, and, as I always remind people, there’s a starting position at which anyone can beat Usain Bolt in a footrace. Through these 15 games, the Mariners had seven hitters with a wRC+ north of 120 (and typically by a significant amount), and a team ERA below four.

As you may have surmised if you’ve looked at the standings at any point in the last three months, it didn’t last. From the team’s high-water mark in April until June 2, when Bruce was sent packing in the first of a long series of June trades, the team went 12-36. April’s playoff hopes were a faded memory by the end of May. During this stretch, nearly a third of an entire season, the team’s ERA of 5.74 was the worst in baseball. The pitching staff even managed to allow more home runs than the Orioles over that span, squeezing out a 92-90 edge. The offense didn’t experience quite as stark of a breakdown, but a triple-slash of .225/.300/.414 and a bottom-third in the league finish in runs scored isn’t a highlight for the newsletter.

With a long shot playoff run not coming together, Dipoto started trading off some of talent that was unlikely to be around in the long-term. Bruce, Encarnación, Mike Leake, Hunter Strickland, and Roenis Elías all moved on to sunnier climes in July.

Despite the record, the Mariners found out a lot of interesting things about their talent in 2019, so even the losing has been relatively productive. Omar Narváez might be a good enough hitter to compensate for his rather bland, ineffective defense behind the plate. Daniel Vogelbach might not be the second coming of Matt Stairs after all, but Tom Murphy and Austin Nola are looking like amazing scrap-heap additions, and Kyle Seager actually isn’t done. Seattle became the latest team to rob a solid reliever from the Nationals, bringing in Austin Adams after the Nats couldn’t be bothered to take a real look at him.

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In the end, the Mariners can hang their heads high that unlike other teams residing in baseball’s dark, moist cellar, doom wasn’t preordained.

What Comes Next?
Seattle’s been slowly moving money off the books and now only have around $80 million already accounted for in 2020. Felix Hernandez is their only significant free agent — Arodys Vizcaíno, like Carlos Santana, was only a “paper Mariner” — and as sad as it is, King Félix is no longer a significant major league contributor. Most of the team’s arbitration-eligible players are in their first year, and the ones who aren’t non-tendered won’t break any banks. Additional cash comes off the books in 2021 with the Jay Bruce deal disappearing and Mike Leake’s payoff decreasing. While we can argue that most teams in baseball can spend more than they claim to be able to, the Mariners will likely be able to spend quite aggressively a couple of years from now, even with their self-imposed constraints.

Ranked eighth on the board, the Mariner farm system is in better shape than at any time I can remember. Kiley and Eric had the Mariners 15th in an earlier 2019 report. Going back further, and using Keith Law as a stable long-term reference for Seattle’s rank, that was already up from 22nd. Law ranked the Mariners 30th before 2018, 28th before 2017, and 28th before 2016. In other words, there’s far more young talent on the Mariners’ farm than there has been at any point in recent years.

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That the team has reached this point with only one year (so far) in the wilderness is a testament to the work Dipoto has already done to repair the flaws of the Jack Zduriencik regime.

The Absitively, Posilutely, Way-Too-Early ZiPS Projection – Kyle Lewis
In the decade since drafting Kyle Seager, the Mariners have had little luck drafting hitters, with the best-drafted hitter since then being current Dodger Chris Taylor. Thanks to tearing most of the things in his right knee after a 2016 home plate collision while playing for Low-A Everett, Kyle Lewis’s prospect status looked in real danger. 2018’s comeback season wasn’t a thrilling one, with Lewis hitting .244/.306/.405 after his May return. 2019 was encouraging, as Lewis stayed healthy and continued to develop as a hitter; this was in the Double-A Texas League, so his improved offensive numbers aren’t due to the Triple-A leagues now using the flubberball. And since joining the big league roster, he’s been on a homer tear, hitting four long balls in his first six games as a Mariner. Lewis will have to continue to improve his plate discipline and develop his power, but he now has a real chance to succeed where other Mariners middle-order prospects haven’t. This is especially important as it’s unlikely Lewis plays centerfield all that often in the majors.

ZiPS Projection – Kyle Lewis
Year BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ DR WAR
2020 .246 .309 .388 529 62 130 29 2 14 65 47 164 3 90 7 1.2
2021 .243 .310 .390 515 61 125 30 2 14 64 49 166 3 91 6 1.3
2022 .243 .312 .396 515 63 125 30 2 15 65 51 167 3 93 6 1.4
2023 .237 .311 .386 510 62 121 29 1 15 65 53 169 3 90 5 1.2
2024 .236 .312 .388 369 45 87 21 1 11 47 40 125 1 91 4 0.9
2025 .237 .312 .387 380 46 90 22 1 11 48 41 124 2 91 4 0.9
While I wouldn’t call this projection “good,” it also represents a significant change in outlook for ZiPS from its preseason forecast. Before 2019, ZiPS saw Lewis as a player who likely wouldn’t peek far above replacement-level at any point. Now it sees him as a realistic, if limited, contributor to a winning team. He now peaks as a 15-homer hitter instead of one who hits around 10, and ZiPS thinks he’s made enough progress in his plate discipline to walk 50 times a year. That’s real progress.

It has been a long and often painful road watching the Mariners’ relievers this year. To be clear, this was expected as the bullpen was not an area of focus in year one of general manager Jerry Dipoto’s rebuild plan, but there appears to be at least a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for the bullpen going forward.

Drayer: Kyle Lewis’ torrid start a reminder why he was an M’s top pick

Of the 33 pitchers who have thrown innings in relief this year – position players and one Justus Sheffield “headlining” outing excluded – a good number have emerged as possible bullpen pieces going forward. This will provide a different look next year for the Mariners in spring training.
While before under Dipoto the bulk of the Mariners’ bullpen arms brought into camp were attached to names most were not familiar with (usually relievers from other organizations signed to minor league contracts), most of the relievers in Peoria next spring should have the ability to hit the ground running as the Mariners will already have history with them.

“It’s huge,” said manager Scott Servais. “It’s not just getting the guy from waivers from another organization – you get ’em in here, introduce them to coaches, our process, here’s what we value, our catchers. It takes a while as a catcher to get to know this guy can actually execute these pitches in this spot or he can’t. Knowing our guys, having our group together in spring training, it’s really going to change what we have been doing the last few years and I am really excited about that. The continuity, the familiarly the guys have with themselves, it really helps.”
Dipoto’s philosophy with the bullpen this year was to go with numbers and see what shook out. Relievers that he thought could benefit from Mariners coaching – which included diving into the biomechanics of the pitcher and an analytical breakdown to maximize pitch usage – were claimed off waivers at an almost frenetic pace. Some saw improvement, some did not, but in the end the Mariners are left with an interesting group that has the potential to be at least the base of a more permanent bullpen with bigger pieces to be added later.

Servais listed Matt Magill, Anthony Bass, Sam Tuivailala, Dan Altavilla, Taylor Guilbeau and Erik Swanson as relievers who have at the very least at times been pitchers he has liked what he has seen from. With all of them there is more to be learned as none have spent a full year on the Mariners’ roster, and the potential for further development should exist.
Adams brings the second-best strikeouts per nine innings rate in baseball for relievers who have thrown 29 innings or more. What does he look at 55 innings?

There is no question Altavilla has good stuff – very good stuff. Command has always been the question. Have recent changes with his delivery helped?

Guilbeau, a left-hander, was thought by many to be a left-on-left guy only, but in his first 12 innings in the big leagues his splits have been pretty close to neutral.

Matt Wisler shines as an opener, fades in true relief. What value does he bring?

It appears the determination that Swanson is a reliever and not a starter has been made, so what adjustments can he make in his new role?

Brandon Brennan will have survived his Rule 5 year and along with Swanson will be able to be optioned to the minors next year, perhaps giving the Mariners more flexibility than they had in 2019.

On its own, the Mariners’ crop of relievers is not a group you would look to take into a season in which you expect to compete for the playoffs, but that will not be the Mariners goal next season. A solid pen, however – one with more known quantities – could help push them closer as well as help with development, giving a young offense and most likely two young starters a better chance at winning games by holding up their end of bargain.
It is still a work in progress, but the semblance of a bullpen as opposed to a season-long open tryout has the potential to come into focus.

“We are starting to get there,” said Servais. “We’ve also got some really interesting guys coming that aren’t here yet. I think we will have a very, very competitive spring training for a lot of those spots.”

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Alexander Nylander and Adam Boqvist both scored and recorded an assist for the Blackhawks in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Capitals on Monday at Capital One Arena.

Collin Delia made 25 saves on 29 shots (0.862 save-percentage), offseason trade acquisition Aleski Saarela tipped in the first goal of the Blackhawks preseason, the penalty kill was 2 for 3 and Ryan Carpenter won 61.5-percent (8-of-13) of his faceoffs.

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How it Happened
The Nylander – David Kampf – Saarela line made an immediate impact. Nylander forced a turnover at the Capitals blue line and started a 2-on-1 with Kampf, but his backdoor pass to Nylander was deflected away.

Delia looked strong early and was able to bail out defensemen Carl Dahlstorm and Slater Koekkoek after turnovers in the defensive zone, which swung the momentum the Blackhawks way.

Chicago’s first goal of the preseason started in the defensive zone after a strong breakout pass by Erik Gustafsson to Nylander, who protected the puck into the neutral zone. Nylander slowed the play down and made a slick sauce pass to Kampf on the opposite side. Kampf swung around the Capitals net and dropped the puck to Dennis Gilbert, who was skating down the wall. Gilbert found Nylander, who escaped the Capitals defender with a couple quick changes in direction, and then set up Gustafsson for a one-timer. Saarela tipped the shot and was credited with his first Blackhawks goal.

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Saarela, along with defenseman Calvin de Haan, were acquired from the Hurricanes for Gustav Forsling and Anton Forsberg in June.

Near the start of the second period, the Capitals tied it up 1-1 following a whiffed shot from the high slot that ended up on Damien Riat’s stick backdoor.

Not much later, the Nylander – Kampf – Saarela line struck again. Saarela won a puck battle and swung it around the boards to Kampf, who one-touched it to Boqvist for a quick wrister toward the net. Nylander intercepted the shot, quickly moved it to his backhand and buried his first goal with the Blackhawks:
Then the Capitals took over.

They were all over the Blackhawks and scored two unanswered goals, a power play tally by Travis Boyd and another on a rebound by Aliaksei Protas that Kampf did a fly by on and Dahlstrom was caught puck watching:
Boqvist’s magic shifted momentum. Anton Wedin made a nice area pass to Matthew Highmore to enter the offensive zone. Dylan Sikura got the puck from Highmore, then circled in the high slot and fired a shot toward the net. The puck was deflected and Boqvist impressively settled the bouncing puck down to his stick. He then wrapped around the net and sniped a shot right below the the crossbar.
The third period saw the Blackhawks get their first power play of the game. Gustafsson quarterbacked the first unit with Nylander and Sikura on the half walls, while Boqvist controlled the blue line on the second unit.

Chicago took a too many men penalty with just under three minutes to go. Carpenter and Kampf started the penalty kill and the Blackhawks were able to get the game to overtime.

In 3-on-3 overtime, Carpenter had the best chance for the Blackhawks off a breakaway pass from Gustafsson, but Pheonix Copely denied him. Not much later Tom Wilson picked up the puck in the defensive zone, easily sped by Sikura, drove the net and buried the game winner:
Three Stars
1. Aliaksei Protas (WSH) – 1 G, 2 A

2. Adam Boqvist (CHI) – 1 G, 1 A

3. Alexander Nylander (CHI) – 1 G, 1 A

What’s Next?
The Blackhawks take on the Red Wings in their second preseason game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena.

The Red Wings left Traverse City after Monday’s practice, concluding a training camp that began Friday and christened yet another hockey season.

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Players have “tweaked” muscles, the hockey clichés are rolling, prospects are being compared to Hall of Famers, and the sight of Steve Yzerman wearing a Red Wings’ jacket is again quite comfortable after not seeing it for so many years.

But it’s definitely time for the next phase: Exhibition games.

The Red Wings have their first Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena, scrimmaging (which is essentially what it is) against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The next phase before — the regular season — begins in October.

But before then, let’s take a look at the some developments from the past few days here in Traverse City, which remains a fine spot to get hockey underway.

Seider-mania
Can defenseman Moritz Seider make the jump from playing hockey in Germany to the NHL?

It’s not likely to happen immediately. But it might not take nearly as long as maybe originally thought.

You see North American 18-year-olds who’ve played against stronger competition than Seider has struggle to simply adjust to the minor pro leagues here, never mind the NHL.

It will be intriguing to watch Seider these next two weeks against NHL competition getting ready for this season.

Seider’s approach to the game, his demeanor, and size and talent, are beyond most 18-year-olds. That should serve him well in the years ahead.

You have to think Seider is best served by playing, at least for a while, in Grand Rapids and getting acclimated to North American pro hockey.

But with the maturity and poise of this kid, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Seider fairly soon.

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More Red Wings coverage
Autopsy: Ex-Red Wings center Greg Johnson died of self-inflicted gunshot wound
Red Wings training camp: Sept. 15
Oliwer Kaski sports ability to provide Red Wings new dimension on defense
Oliwer Kaski on joining the Red Wings
Moritz Seider warming to life in Michigan, adjusting to pro hockey

Rasmussen’s crowded path
It was interesting listening to coach Jeff Blashill on Sunday talk about 2017 first-round pick Michael Rasmussen.

The Wings have decided that long-term, Rasmussen’s best position is center, where he spent most of his time in junior. The Wings envision a big, 6-foot-6, shut-down center who can also provide offense around the net.

But with that switch, Rasmussen’s chances to opening the season in Detroit are slim.

PAID STORY FROM DISCOVER
What does pride mean to you?
“If you looked at Ras’ long-term outlook, he’s a center,” Blashill said. “Those guys can be really, really hard to play against because they’re so good defensively. If he’s a guy who can shut down other teams’ best players, that’s a real positive.”

“His ability to score net-front is a real positive. But ultimately, he’s going to have to beat out (Dylan) Larkin, Fil (Valtteri Filppula), (Frans) Nielsen, Glennie (Luke Glendening), Ehner (Christoffer Ehn), (Jacob) de la Rose.”

Unless there are injuries, Rasmussen isn’t likely to pass that many players on the depth chart.

But, it would help Rasmussen, also, to play in Grand Rapids and reclaim some confidence lost during a tough rookie season in the NHL.

Busy schedule
The Wings play 82 games during a long six-month (plus a week, or two) NHL regular season.

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But they’ll play nine preseason games in the next two weeks.

It’s a game more than usual because of the Wings’ participation in the NHL’s Hockeyville event in Calumet, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Along with keeping the coaching, training and equipment staffs busy, there will be players who get plenty of chances to show what they can do.

Nobody will play all nine games, obviously. But young players on the brink of the NHL likely will get about five or six games to show they deserve an opportunity.

This schedule is perfect for them.

Red Wings forward Filip Zadina spent most of last season in the AHL.
Red Wings forward Filip Zadina spent most of last season in the AHL. (Photo: David Guralnick, Detroit News)

Zadina’s future
Filip Zadina, the 2018 first-round pick, didn’t meet the largely unrealistic expectations fans had for him last season.

Zadina spent the majority of the season in Grand Rapids and had 16 goals.

“It’s part of hockey life,” said Zadina, of last season’s education. “No one has an easy way to the NHL. I was glad I could spend one year in the AHL. It opened my eyes to what I have to do better.

“I worked the whole summer and I’m a better player.”

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Today, the Sacramento Kings announced the debut of the team’s newly formed gender inclusive hip-hop group, 916 Crew, the official date of Fan Fest where the entire roster will participate in a free event for the public as well as a number of theme nights fans can look forward to for the 2019-20 Season, the Kings 35th season in Sacramento.

“We are thrilled to announce a number of exciting entertainment elements for the upcoming season as we celebrate the 35th year of the Kings in Sacramento,” said President of Business Operations John Rinehart. “We look forward to welcoming our fans back to Golden 1 Center with a high energy line-up of entertainment including our newly formed 916 Crew, Fan Fest and an array of theme nights.”

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916 Crew Debut

The 916 Crew for the 2019-20 season represents the diversity of the Sacramento community and is composed of 25 individuals – including former Sacramento Kings Dancers and Street Team members. These individuals are employed by the Kings and will perform high energy routines during Kings games and serve as ambassadors in the Sacramento region at community events and appearances.

Earlier this summer, the Kings announced they will partner with three regional studios, Dance Elite All Stars, Hype Dance Studio and Kast Academy of the Arts, to choreograph routines for the debut season of 916 Crew.

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On Saturday, October 19, the Kings will host their annual free Fan Fest and Open Practice in anticipation of the upcoming 2019-20 season at Golden 1 Center. This all-ages event will be free and open to the public, but tickets will be required for admission. Fans can reserve up to four general admission tickets at Kings.com/FanFest. Fan Fest parking can be reserved online at reserve.sacpark.org for $5 for the West Garage. Anyone paying online will automatically pay $5, while those who pay day of will pay the listed rate.

Before and during Fan Fest on the DOCO Plaza in front of Golden 1 Center, fans can shoot hoops and listen to live DJs. Fans can also visit the Bosque in the plaza to enjoy food and beverage including new signature cocktails and a selection of flavored popcorn or items from one of DOCO’s other favorite eateries.

Season Ticket Members will have early access into the arena at 11:45 a.m. with doors opening at 12 p.m. The newly expanded Kings Street Team will be on hand, playing games with fans and passing out prizes throughout the concourse and plaza. The full Kings roster and coaching staff will participate in an open practice featuring team drills, skills challenges, a scrimmage, and the traditional rookie dance contest. Lucky fans will be selected to participate in on-court contests for the chance to win prizes. Select Kings Legends will engage with fans throughout the event. In addition, fans will have the opportunity to stock up on newly-arrived styles for the season at the Team Store, including the popular Classic Edition gear.

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Additionally, youth ages 6-14 are invited to participate in a Jr. Kings youth basketball clinic on October 19 to coincide with Fan Fest. Spots are limited and will be available for purchase at Kings.com/JrKings later this month.

2019-20 Season Select Theme Nights

Last month, the Kings announced their full season schedule, which will showcase a number of interactive and immersive theme nights. Breast Health Awareness will take place on October 28 while Salute to First Responders and Service will take place on October 30 and November 12, respectively. The team will celebrate the highly anticipated new Star Wars movie with a themed night on December 13. To continue to celebrate the first NBA games in India, the Kings will host their annual Bollywood Night on January 6. Each year the Kings shine a spotlight on Sustainability, Health and Education on the community, these games will take place on January 2, March 15 and March 29. The team will celebrate Lunar New Year on January 29, Black History Month starting on February 1, Latino Heritage on March 1, Equality Night on March 5, Slamson’s birthday on March 8 and Women of Inspiration on March 31. The team will conclude their regular season schedule with a Sixth Man Celebration on April 15. The full list of theme nights can be viewed at Kings.com/Promos.

A USA Basketball spokesman responded Saturday to comments made on ESPN suggesting Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox would not be allowed to represent Team USA in the future because he withdrew from consideration for this summer’s FIBA World Cup team.

On Thursday’s episode of “The Jump,” an ESPN panelist wondered what Fox was “saving himself for” and speculated he would not be invited back by USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo. USA Basketball communications director Craig Miller dismissed that notion, telling The Sacramento Bee that Team USA “understands De’Aaron’s decision.”

Fox and Kings teammate Marvin Bagley III were initially invited to training camp in Las Vegas as members of the Select Team, a group of younger players who gain USA Basketball experience while helping the national team prepare for competition. Due to their impressive play, Fox and Bagley were moved up to the pool of players who were evaluated for the World Cup team.

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Fox, Bagley and Kings small forward Harrison Barnes were among the final 14 players being considered for the 12-man roster. Fox and Bagley withdrew before the team headed overseas, saying they wanted to focus on the upcoming NBA season in Sacramento.

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The Kings are hoping to end a 13-year playoff drought after finishing ninth in the Western Conference last season. They will take a 19-hour flight to India for two preseason games against the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 4-5, so the travel demands would have been considerable for Fox had he accompanied Team USA to Australia and China.

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“Given De’Aaron was added into consideration for the World Cup team after originally being part of the USA Select Team in Las Vegas, USA Basketball understands De’Aaron’s decision,” Miller told The Bee.

Dozens of more established NBA stars withdrew before Fox, leaving the United States with a depleted roster. Team USA finished seventh in the tournament with an 87-74 victory over Poland on Saturday, America’s worst showing in a major tournament since NBA players were allowed to participate beginning in 1992.

Team USA’s World Cup roster featured only four of the 35 players originally selected for the player pool. The list of players who backed out included LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, C.J. McCollum and Paul George.

For some reason, though, Fox was singled out in a discussion between Rachel Nichols, Richard Jefferson and Amin Elhassan on “The Jump.”

“Will De’Aaron Fox ever be able to play for the USA team?” Jefferson asked.

“No, not as long as Jerry Colangelo is in charge,” Elhassan said.

Colangelo has not publicly indicated any ill will toward Fox, but he expressed his general frustration to reporters earlier this week in China, saying, “You can’t help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn’t show up.”

Colangelo indicated USA Basketball would move swiftly to assemble a stronger and more stable roster for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

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The Dallas Cowboys had a dozen players appear on their final injury report. But how many are in danger of missing their Week two matchup?
After a stellar showing in their regular-season opener, the Dallas Cowboys are hoping to defy lofty expectations in Week Two against yet another NFC East rival, the 0-1 Washington Redskins.

The Cowboys were able to put on an offensive onslaught against the New York Giants last weekend, beating the G-Men in Arlington to the tune of 35-17. While the Redskins led the Philadelphia Eagles 20-7 through the first half in their Week One matchup in Philly, only to allow the Birds to come back in the second half and hand Washington a loss.

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Now, these divisional foes will face each other in a Week Two battle at FedExField, the home of the Redskins in Landover, Maryland. But the Cowboys will have to go to war without a couple of their players.

On the Cowboys’ final injury report, a whopping 12 names were listed for America’s Team. They included wide receiver Tavon Austin (concussion), wide receiver Randall Cobb (rib), wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot), defensive end Tyrone Crawford (hip), linebacker Luke Gifford (ankle), safety Jeff Heath (knee), tight end Blake Jarwin (foot), linebacker Sean Lee (knee/NIR), guard Zack Martin (back), offensive tackle Tyron Smith (back), safety Darian Thompson (ankle), and safety Donovan Wilson (ankle).

Out of the dozen players appearing on the Cowboys’ final injury report, only Tavon Austin and Luke Gifford have been designated as out for the game. The rest were able to be full participants in practice on Friday expect for Darian Thompson and Donovan Wilson, who were both limited. Veteran linebacker Sean Lee did not practice on Friday (non-injury related) after being a full participant on both Wednesday and Thursday.

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For the Redskins, defensive linemen Jonathan Allen (knee) and Caleb Brantley (foot) plus running back Derrius Guice (knee) and quarterback Colt McCoy (fibula) have been officially ruled out for the game. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) has been listed as questionable while fellow corner Fabian Moreau (ankle) is doubtful.

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The possibility of the Dallas Cowboys trading with the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick has been just one more topic generating buzz this week. There is another, somewhat related trade story as well, and is the persistent rumors the team cutting ties with former first-round pick Taco Charlton. That may actually be the far more likely one, as the trade demands for Fitzpatrick are reportedly rather high, and there could be 30 other teams interested in his services. Charlton himself is lending a certain credibility to the idea his days with Dallas being numbered.
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This would be a major decision for the Cowboys, who value draft capital greatly and take great pride in making good picks. It would be an admission they got this one wrong. On the other hand, it also indicates that they believe their defensive line group is so strong that they don’t need to hang onto Charlton and wait for him to develop.

Most importantly, it would point to real change in the approach of the front office. One that goes hand-in-hand with the decision during the offseason to part with Scott Linehan and promote Kellen Moore in his place. And there is more than one component to that.

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The first is a more hard line, results-driven decision process. In the past, the team has been, at times, overly loyal to both coaches and players that have not produced. That is possibly a component in giving Linehan one more shot last year. Muddying that take is how Linehan seemed to really be selling the problems of the offense in 2017 as more driven by injury and some failings of his subordinates, with the latter paying the price in a general housecleaning below him. Even in light of those arguments that he advanced, the top management and head coach seemed to grant him more leeway than is perhaps wise in the “what have you done for me lately” world of the NFL.
That same thing has been seen regarding past high draft picks that underperformed. The team kept them when the roster spot might have been better used to develop new talent – although in the past, that talent may not have been attractive or promising enough to force their hands. This season, the Cowboys roster appears to be one of the deepest and most talented in a long time. Many have ranked it as one of the elite squads, top to bottom, in the league. While the game against the New York Giants is the smallest of sample sizes, it did nothing to disprove that idea. Arguably the deepest position on the entire team is defensive end. When Robert Quinn returns next week from suspension, the staff has to decide who to release to make room. The signposts increasingly point to Charlton being the logical choice. That assumes they believe Charlton’s strong performance in preseason is just not likely to carry over into regular season games. His being inactive last week could be taken as proof of that.

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The other thing this says is that the Cowboys are all in on this being the year they can make a run at a sixth Lombardi. That is a logical influence in both the Moore promotion and a possible moving on from Charlton. They are firing every round in the magazine to make it happen.

And in both cases, the available options played a big part. Hiring Moore as the new quarterbacks coach showed they believed he had real potential. He had to have shown them something to make him the OC with so little experience. Giving him that first year to prove himself might have been a consideration in retaining Linehan one more season as well. They didn’t feel comfortable in giving the job to such a neophyte right off the bat – who would? But seeing him at work in practice, meetings, and games must have reassured them that he had the stuff to handle things this year.

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The logic with Charlton seems to be that Quinn, Kerry Hyder, Dorance Armstrong, and Joe Jackson all have more to offer in proven potential and/or expected growth. Don’t forget they also have Jalen Jelks stashed on IR. Charlton may have gained the dreaded label of “progress stopper.” That may be the real driver here.

Some may see releasing Charlton as a failure. But he is now a sunk cost, and the best way to approach these things is to disregard that draft capital that is now long gone, and evaluate things strictly on current and projected value. That is smart roster management. The Cowboys have been doing a lot of that of late. You still always seek to improve the process. This seems to fit exactly that.

Now the caveat: Nothing has been done yet, and we may just be misreading the indicators. Also, that dreaded injury threat is always out there. We don’t want to see that make the decision for Dallas, but Charlton is probably a better option in that case than whomever they could try and replace him with.

If his time with Dallas is ending, the team is probably working to get some kind of draft pick back in a trade. But if nothing appealing materializes, then they can just release him outright and move on.

That is not how they have always done things. But this year, with what may be a golden opportunity given what the offense appears to be becoming, it is the way to go now. If Charlton leaves, we should all wish him the best and hope he finds some success in another uniform. The Cowboys just have to focus on what is best for the team.