Warriors, Bucks Enter 2019 NBA Playoffs as Favorites

The Warriors remain extremely short favorites to win the 2019 title, to no one’s surprise betting on sporting events is more popular than ever – especially the NBA playoffs. The more interesting debate is in the Eastern Conference, where sportsbooks are finally buying into the Bucks’ historic 60-win season. It wasn’t until mid-March that Milwaukee became the betting favorite in the East, finally surpassing the Raptors. At full strength, they have been borderline unbeatable, going 56-16 with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup (and just 4-5 without him). The top-ten in the odds are as follows entering the final days of the regular season:

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Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Dwyane Wade Records Fifth Career Triple-Double in Final NBA Game

After scoring 30 points Tuesday in his final home game for the Miami Heat, both Dwyane Wade and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra were unsure just how much Wade would have in the tank in his final game ever against the Brooklyn Nets.

The answer was more than enough.

In front of friends LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Mike Miller, Wade recorded the fifth triple-double of his NBA career with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He picked up his 10th assist after fellow Heat legend Udonis Haslem knocked home a 19-foot jumper. It was Wade’s first triple double since February 4, 2011, when he recorded 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a 109-97 Heat win over the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Charlotte Hornets).

During his last game, Wade was battling a knee injury that he sustained when he fell off the scorer’s table during his last game in Miami. Even with pregame treatment, Wade was still unsure whether or not he would be able to play. Spoelstra and the Heat were expected to limit Wade’s minutes to some degree, but the 37-year-old Wade actually ended up playing more minutes in Brooklyn (36) than he did in Miami (35) the previous night.

Overall, Wade shot 28 times in the game, including 13 attempts from three-point range. The Heat ended up losing the game to Brooklyn 113-94, and Wade said after the game he didn’t like how often he shot the ball while he was on the floor:

“I don’t like shooting every time down,” Wade said during an on-court interview with Jason Jackson of Fox Sports Sun after the game. “That’s not the way I play. I was so uncomfortable tonight taking that many random shots. … I like playing a competitive game, so this is not the kind of game I wanted to play in.

“But to be able to go out here and understand that my last game, I wanted it to be about my teammates as much as possible. To be able to pass the ball, get the triple-double and all those things.

“So I accomplished that.”

With the triple-double, Wade became the second Heat player to record such a feat this season, joining point guard Goran Dragic, who had 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in a March 28 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press notes that Wade is oldest player in NBA history to post a triple-double in the last game of a season.

Considering the relationship between the two, it was essentially a Hollywood ending for Haslem to be the one that clinched the triple-double for his good friend Wade. Spoelstra made sure he found time for Haslem and Wade to share the court during the final Miami game, and guaranteed the two would play together when he made the decision to put Haslem and Wade in the starting lineup together for the first time since April 13, 2015 against the Orlando Magic.

“For me, I wanted to make that night memorable for him,” Haslem said. “What other way than to be the guy that knocked down that last shot to give him the triple-double. I swear when I shot the ball, it felt like a game winner. I felt the pressure, I felt the pressure of a game-winning shot.

“I was happy I was able to come through for him. He’s come through for me in so many different situations. [It was] probably the best way I could end it for him.”

As Wade signs off on his retirement papers, Haslem could very well also make the decision to hang up his sneakers. The belief earlier this season was that Haslem and Wade would both retire together at the end of the season, but Haslem revealed that he was starting to have doubts about this officially being the end for him. Regardless, a resolution on Haslem’s decision will take a fair share of time. One thing that is for certain; the Heat want him back in 2019-2020:

“He sacrificed as much as anybody, obviously. But UD can still play. He still can. We see it all the time in practices,” Spoelstra said. “We have a bunch of young bigs that he’s really taken on ownership to mentor and to help develop and everything.”

Back to Wade, there were some real doubts when it came to how this season was going to play out for him. He didn’t officially announce he was coming back until late-September, and eventually knew at some point he was going to have to miss a significant games for the birth of his daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade. Even with all that went on, Wade still played incredible for a player in his last season.

As a special addition to the 2018-2019 NBA All-Star Game by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Wade finished his final season in the league with averages of 15.0 points, 4.2 assists, an 4.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 43% from the field, and 33% from three-point land. Per Basketball-Reference’s Hall of Fame Probability list, Wade is a lock for first-ballot induction when he becomes eligible.

Photo: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Duke Remains Favorite in Updated 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament Odds Ahead of Sweet 16

One of the most predictable opening weekends in NCAA Tournament history is in the books and now the Sweet 16 is set. All #1, #2, and #3 seeds are still alive, comprising two-thirds of the remaining field. Add in two #4 seeds, a #5, and the Pac-12 Tournament champ Oregon (a #12), and the Cinderellas are long gone.

When we analyzed the field of 68 last week, it seemed rather chalky but there was value present. All of the teams we discussed then are still playing, and most of the odds have remained about the same or, in some cases, actually got longer.

Let’s look at the complete futures odds headed into the Sweet 16. The raw numbers are below, and our analysis follows.

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The Favorite: Duke

Usually, when odds shift, it is pretty easy to understand why. Last week, Duke was the deserving tournament favorite at 9/4 (+225). They are still the chalk now, but the price has risen to 7/2 (+350). Why?

Sure, the Blue Devils were taken to the wire by UCF, but they survived. Apparently sportsbooks think a major flaw was uncovered? The bottom line is you still have a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Krzyzewski, a transcendent star in Zion Williams, and two other lottery picks in RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish.

Of course Duke can lose, but the value is shockingly pointing up. And don’t forget that UCF’s roster — with arguably the best rim-protector in basketball in the form of 7’6 Tacko Fall — was uniquely suited to shutting down Duke’s dominant post game.

Strong Contenders: Virginia & Gonzaga

After losing in the first round as a #1 seed last year, Virginia needed 15 or so minutes this year to shake off Gardner-Webb and then rolled. The Cavaliers suffocated a normally strong offensive Oklahoma team in round two. Tony Bennett has not reached a Final Four, but this is his best team and they appear over last year’s disaster.

We have heard the argument about Gonzaga over and over again. The WCC is not a Power 6 conference and therefore they are untested. Garbage.

In non-conference play, the Zags beat Duke, Washington, Illinois, and Arizona. They lost a one-possession neutral-site game against Tennessee and fell at North Carolina. Their two NCAA Tournament games, convincing wins against Fairleigh Dickinson and Baylor, gave you nothing but confidence. They are a deserving third-overall choice in the betting.

Longshots: SEC & Big 10

Three #1 seeds came out of the ACC this year. If you think Duke, UVA, and North Carolina are a pinch overrated, perhaps one of three SEC or trifecta of Big Ten teams is more to your liking.

While it is a little hard to bet on LSU, both Kentucky and Tennessee are very viable.

The Tigers are playing without suspended head coach Will Wade; they won a lot of 50/50 games this year (five OT victories); and they barely escaped both Yale and Maryland in the NCAA’s first weekend.

Meanwhile, Kentucky bounced back from their loss to Tennessee in the SEC semifinals with a blowout win over Abilene Christian, then turned back a talented Wofford squad who the analytics community loved in round two. As for the Vols, they weren’t dominant but did the job against Colgate and Iowa.

In the Big Ten, Michigan State beat Michigan three times this season. Purdue tied with MSU for first place during the league’s regular season. While the Boilermakers were upset in the conference tournament, they were ultra impressive burying Old Dominion and Villanova in the Big Dance. Michigan had no trouble with Montana or Florida. The Spartans took care of Bradley and Minnesota. All three are contenders at double-digit odds worth serious consideration.

Updated 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament Odds Ahead of Sweet 16

Photo: Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports

MLB Players Expected to Begin 2019 Season on Injured List

As is the case with the start of every MLB season, several players will open the season on the injured list.

We here at The Game Day Report have complied a list of every player that will begin the season on the MLB-level disabled list for their respective teams. If you believe we have missed one, let us know in the comments.

Arizona Diamondbacks

OF Steven Souza Jr.

SP Silvino Bracho

SP Taijuan Walker

RP T.J. McFarland

Atlanta Braves 

SP Mike Foltynewicz

SP Kevin Gausman

RP A.J. Minter

RP Darren O’Day

Baltimore Orioles 

C Austin Wynns

1B/DH Mark Trumbo

SP Alex Cobb

Boston Red Sox 

1B/OF Steve Pearce

2B Dustin Pedroia

INF Marco Hernandez

Chicago Cubs 

SP Kendall Graveman

RP Brandon Morrow

RP Tony Barnette

RP Xavier Cedeno

Chicago White Sox 

OF Jon Jay

SP Michael Kopech

RP Ian Hamilton

Cincinnati Reds

2B Scooter Gennett

INF Alex Blandino

SP Alex Wood

Cleveland Indians 

SS Francisco Lindor

2B Jason Kipnis

OF Bradley Zimmer

SP Danny Salazar

Colorado Rockies 

SP Antonio Senzatela

RP Chris Rusin

Detroit Tigers

OF JaCoby Jones

SP Michael Fulmer

RP Drew VerHagen

* SP Gregory Soto will serve a 20-game suspension and be eligible to return once the suspension concludes.

Houston Astros 

SP Lance McCullers Jr.

RP Joe Smith

*SP Francis Martes will serve a 80-game suspension and be eligible to return once the suspension concludes.

Kansas City Royals

C Salvador Perez

SP Danny Duffy

SP Jesse Hahn

SP Trevor Oaks

RP Brian Flynn

*SP Eric Skoglund will serve a 80-game suspension and be eligible to return once the suspension concludes.

Los Angeles Angels

DH/SP Shohei Ohtani

OF Justin Upton

OF Michael Hermosillo

SP Andrew Heaney

SP J.C. Ramirez

SP Nick Tropeano

RP Keynan Middleton

RP Taylor Cole

Los Angeles Dodgers 

SP Clayton Kershaw

SP Rich Hill

RP Tony Cingrani

Miami Marlins

RP Julian Fernandez

RP Riley Ferrell

Milwaukee Brewers

SP Brent Suter

SP Jimmy Nelson

RP Bobby Wahl

RP Jeremy Jeffress

RP Corey Knebel

Minnesota Twins 

3B Miguel Sano

SP Matt Magill

RP Addison Reed

RP Gabriel Moya

New York Mets 

3B Todd Frazier

2B Jed Lowrie

OF Yoenis Cespedes

RP Drew Smith

New York Yankees 

SS Didi Gregorius

OF Jacoby Ellsbury

OF Aaron Hicks

*SP CC Sabathia is expected to serve a five-game suspension before being placed on the 10-day injured list.

Oakland Athletics 

C Chris Herrmann

1B Matt Olson

OF Nick Martini

SP Jharel Cotton

SP Daniel Gossett

SP Sean Manaea

Philadelphia Phillies 

OF/INF Roman Quinn

RP Tommy Hunter

Pittsburgh Pirates 

C Elias Diaz

OF Gregory Polanco

SP Chad Kuhl

SP Edgar Santana

St. Louis Cardinals 

INF Jedd Gyorko

OF Justin Williams

SP/RP Carlos Martinez

RP Brett Cecil

RP Luke Gregerson

San Diego Padres 

OF Travis Jankowski

SP Brett Kennedy

SP Garrett Richards

SP Jacob Nix

SP Dinelson Lamet

RP/SP Miguel Diaz

RP/SP Jose Castillo

San Francisco Giants 

SP Johnny Cueto

Seattle Mariners 

3B Kyle Seager

RP Anthony Swarzak

RP Shawn Armstrong

RP Sam Tuivailala

RP Gerson Bautista

Tampa Bay Rays 

3B Matt Duffy

SP Anthony Banda

SP Jose De Leon

Texas Rangers

OF Scott Heineman

SP Yohander Mendez

Toronto Blue Jays

INF Devon Travis

OF Dalton Pompey

SP Ryan Borucki

RP David Phelps

RP Ryan Tepera

Washington Nationals

INF/OF Howie Kendrick

OF Michael Taylor

RP Koda Glover

Finalized 25-man Opening Day rosters are due to MLB on Thursday morning.

Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

Christian Yelich Open to Contract Extension Talks With Brewers: “I love it here”

Thanks to a contract signed back in March 2015, Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder Christian Yelich was able to gain long-term clarity about his salary, rather than deal with going through multiple years of arbitration.

It is not uncommon to see many players choose this route earlier on in their careers, as current Brewers teammate Ryan Braun did the same thing in 2008, when he signed a eight-year, $45 million contract, therefore buying out all of his arbitration-elgible years. It creates a security that’s importance cannot be expressed enough for MLB players.

In-wake of players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado receiving massive new contracts, Yelich, who was named the MVP of the National League last season, was asked today by assembled media at Milwaukee’s spring training complex about what he thinks about the current state of  his seven-year, $49 million contract he uses hindsight and sees the new deals players of his caliber are earning:

“It’s a decision I made a few years back,” Yelich said when discussing his contract, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I made it for certain reasons, and figured at the end of the day, everything will end up working itself out. That will take care of itself over time.”

This season, Yelich will earn $9.75 million, and then see his salary increase to $12.5 million in 2020. The base salary will once again increase in 2021 when Yelich will make $14 million, and there is a club option worth $15 million in the contract for the 2022 season. If the Brewers had to make a decision on that option today, they would surely exercise it. But could they retain Yelich even longer beyond the 2022 season? It appears he is open to talking an extension with the club:

“Obviously, you’d hope so,” Yelich said when asked about a possible contract extension. “That’s the goal. I love it here. We’ll see how it plays out.”

As of today, the Brewers and Yelich haven’t had any official talks about extension, as it is something the club likely isn’t going to strongly consider until a couple more years down the line. It also remains to be seen what type of contract the Brewers would offer up to Yelich. In April 2011, the Brewers gave a five-year, $105 million extension to Braun, which is still till this day the largest contract in franchise history.  Expectations wise, Yelich should surpass that if he does one day ink an extension with Milwaukee.

In his 2018 MVP season, Yelich batted .326/.402/.598 with 36 home runs, 110 runs batted in, and 22 stolen bases across 651 plate appearances and 147 games.

Photo: Getty Images

Mike Trout, Angels Close to 10-Year, $363.5 Million Contract Extension

Los Angeles Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout is close to finalizing a 10-year, $363.3 million contract extension with the team, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The contract, which is the largest contract in professional sports history, could keep Trout with the Angels for the remainder of his career. His average annual salary on the deal will be $36 million, topping the $34.4 million a year the Arizona Diamondbacks pay pitcher Zack Greinke on average. Less than three weeks ago, Bryce Harper inked a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, which at the time topped New York Yankees outfielder/designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton for the largest contract in baseball/sports history.  Now, Trout will earn $100 million more than Harper, meaning the two-time AL MVP received a 30% larger contract.

There are also no opt-outs in Trout’s new contract, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

In March 2014, Trout signed a six-year, $144.5 million contract with the Angels to take him through the 2020 season. That contract is still in-tact, as Trout will earn $33.2 million in both 2019 and 2020. Teams were already starting to position themselves to recruit Trout after his contract expired in the 2020, with Trout’s hometown Phillies being very transparent with their plan. Harper had the following to tell a Philadelphia-based radio station when asked about Trout potentially coming to Philadelphia:

“If you don’t think I’m going to call Mike Trout in 2020, to have him to come to Philly, you’re crazy,” Harper said.

This comment from Harper didn’t resinate well with the Angels, who complained to Major League Baseball’s commissioner’s office about a possible tampering situation. Harper and others within the Phillies could’ve potentially be fined as a result of Harper’s comments, but that appears to be out the window now with Trout on the Angels books until 2031.

Throughout Trout’s MLB career, the Angels haven’t had much success when it comes to making the postseason. Trout is widely considered to be the best player in baseball, but the Angels have only made the playoffs one time in the first eight seasons of his career, and that was a 2014 ALDS sweep against the Kansas City Royals. In 15 plate appearances that series, Trout only had one hit, and that was a solo homer. While Trout didn’t perform in his lone playoff appearance, the Angels just simply haven’t had the talent around Trout to win as well.

So far, the best the Angels have managed to do to build their team around Trout was to sign Albert Pujols to a ten-year, $240 million contract in December 2011. At the minimum, the Angels still owe Pujols $87 million, and while the 39-year-old still intends to finish the remainder of his contract with the club, you have to wonder if there becomes a point in time where Angels brass just makes the decision to cut bait. Pujols has been in steady decline ever since the 2015 season, his only all-star appearance with the Angels.

There also other intriguing options on the Angels roster, especially when it comes to two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. Due to Tommy John surgery, Ohtani will only be able to serve in a designated hitter’s role in 2019, but he is still arguably already the second-best player on the team behind Trout. Other issues for the Angels that persist with their roster is the inability to stay healthy. They have players such as Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons that are able to stay healthy, but players like Zack Cozart and other pitchers have struggled with their health in Los Angeles.

Original reporting about the contract suggested that the contract was a 12-year, $430 million extension, but that was factoring in the 2019 and 2020 seasons that were already agreed to. Just like on the previous contract, this one also comes with a full no-trade clause.

Trout, who is already one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, batted .312/.460/.628 with 39 home runs and 79 runs batted in last season. Trout also swiped 24 stolen bases across his 140 games last season, and his 10.2 WAR brought his career WAR total to 64.3. Assuming he is able to put up at least 5.7 in WAR this season, Trout will jump into the top-100 all-time on the career WAR list. Babe Ruth is by far and away the number one player, with a career WAR of 182.5.

Photo: Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade Considered Retirement During Heat’s Big Three Era

Throughout the years 2010-2014, the Miami Heat were at the center of the basketball world, and Dwyane Wade was a big reason why.

In the summer of 2010 as it is well-known, Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh joined forces in Miami to form the ‘Big Three.’ The dynamic trio would go onto make the NBA Finals all four years they were together, and won the championship back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. The three also shared a tremendous amount of personal success, as all three made the all-star team every year, while James went onto capture two NBA MVP’s and two Finals MVP’s. But for Wade, he had to arguably overcome the most adversity out of the three due to health concerns.

Wade was absolutely terrific in 2010-2011, the first season with the big three. He averaged 25.5 points per game and shot 50% from the field. Many believe that had the Heat won the 2011 NBA Finals over the Dallas Mavericks, Wade would’ve been named MVP of the series thanks to his 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game averages across those six games. This season was considered the height for Wade during this era in his career, and things started quickly to slip for Wade after that.

In 2011-2012, Wade’s points per game average dipped down to 22.1 points per game. He missed 17 games during this lockout shortened season largely due to knee injuries/general pain. It was that off-season where Wade made the decision to undergo surgery on his left knee, causing him to miss the 2012 Summer Olympics. He didn’t miss any regular season time because of the recovery from the surgery, but he missed 13 games in 2012-2013 once again due to issues concerning the knee. It was remarkable that Wade was still able to play every playoff game that year for Miami, but injuries effected his performances in the first three rounds of the playoffs until he averaged 19.6 points per game in the NBA Finals, including a 32-point performance in game 4.

The 2013-2014 season, the last year of the big three, was when Wade’s knee issues started to become a complete national conversation. The Heat and Wade agreed to a maintenance program that meant Wade would not play the majority of back-to-back games, and would sit out certain games that weren’t nationally televised. There was essentially a conversation every single night between Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and trainer Jay Sabol about whether or not Wade would be available to play that given night.

Wade’s inability to be available that year privately frustrated  Heat teammates, creating tension within the team. It’s likely part of the reason why despite making the Finals once again, Wade told Bleacher Report in October 2014 that the 2013-2014 season wasn’t fun:

“I don’t know,” Wade said when asked why he thought the season wasn’t fun. “It’s hard to say, man, because you want it. We wanted it. So it’s hard to say that. You don’t know exactly what’s going to come with it, but we put ourselves in that position. But sometimes you can put too much on yourself, all of us, and it becomes a black cloud around. Last year wasn’t fun. I mean, there was no stretch of it [that was] fun. That whole season, to me, it’s amazing we made it to the Finals. It’s just honest.

In some ways, the maintenance program worked for the Heat and Wade. While his points per game average dipped again, he shot a career-best 54% from the field. And while Wade missed 28 games because of the program, the Heat still captured the second seed in the Eastern Conference and won 50+ games. Were Wade’s knee issues likely part of the reason James decided to return home to Cleveland with the Cavaliers? Possibly. But Bosh decided to re-up with the Heat on a five-year contract in summer 2014, and help Wade essentially rebuild himself.

In 2014-2015, Wade still often missed games due to knee injuries. Overall that season, he missed 20 games, but returned to being a 20-plus points per game scorer at 21.5 points per game. In the present day, Wade doesn’t miss very many games anymore due to knee injuries. He started to stop missing games because of his knees in 2015-2016, when it took him until mid-January to miss his first game of the season due to injury.

It was the mental and physical strain during the big three era that was the toughest for Wade to cope with, however. He recently told the Los Angeles Times that because of his knee issues during the big three era, and likely particularly the 2013-2014 season, he considered retirement:

“My knees were in so much pain,” Wade said. “In my right knee, I had two sets of different bone bruises. I also had chondromalacia under the kneecap, which irritates the kneecap to the extent where it’s just more pain. In my left knee, I had three surgeries so I’m dealing with arthritis. I’m dealing with swelling and all the stuff that comes with that.

“It was a time where I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to be in pain anymore.”

James confirmed in the same interview that Wade was having these thoughts during that timeframe. As Wade gets set to walk away from the NBA after the conclusion of this season, the 37-year-old 13-time all-star is expected to play in 72 out of 82 possible games this season, and only missed as much time as he did because of paternity leave that spanned from November 7-18. For Wade to be able to walkaway fully-healthy is remarkable when you consider where he was at just four years ago.

“To have the career I’ve had, my whole role here, when you go back to Robbins, Illinois., you wouldn’t have seen this,” Wade said. “You wouldn’t have seen this kind of career. No one could have seen it.”

Wade is still having a big impact on the Heat as he gets to set to ride off into the sunset. With an emerging Justise Winslow out Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wade stepped up and scored 25 points, while also adding in 5 assists and 4 rebounds, helping Miami push towards the playoffs. At 34-36 on the year now, the Heat currently sit as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, and just two games back of the sixth seed.

Overall on the season, Wade is averaging 14.3 points, 4.2 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 43% from the field. He needs 24 more three-pointers to set a career-high in three-point field goals made in a single-season.

Photo: Cassy Athena/Getty Images

Adrian Peterson Officially Returns to Redskins on Two-Year Contract

Veteran running back Adrian Peterson has officially re-upped with the Washington Redskins on a two-year contract, per an official announcement from the team on Monday.

Peterson is guaranteed $1.5 million on the new deal, and has the potential to earn up to $5 million over the course of the contract. For the 2019 season, Peterson will have a $1.7 million cap hit, and has annual incentives that can be worth up to $1.5 million.

Washington will hold a team option for the 2020 season, and if they exercise it, Peterson will have a base salary of $2.25 million. If the 2020 option is not exercise within 22 days prior to the start of the NFL’s new league year in 2020, Peterson will once again become an unrestricted free agent.

In a season that was damaged severely by injuries, the 33-year-old Peterson was the most consistent offensive weapon for head coach Jay Gruden. Peterson rushed for 1,042 yards on 251 carries in 2018, giving the seven-time Pro Bowler his first 1,000 yard-plus rushing season since 2015 with the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson also found the end zone eight times last season with seven of the touchdowns coming via rushing.

There was some uncertainty about Peterson’s future with the Redskins despite Peterson expressing his desire to stay with the team in December, and it looked like Peterson was going to have to test the free agent market before things quickly came together between the two parties.

Peterson started all 16 games for the Redskins in 2018, but with running back Derrius Guice expected to return from a torn ACL, it’s likely that Peterson’s reps will be reduced some. Washington will also have to find time for Chris Thompson to handle the ball, but he will likely once again be featured in a receiving back role more than rushing.

For his career, Peterson has 13,318 rushing yards on 2,825 attempts. When you combine together rushing and receiving touchdowns, Peterson has found the end zone a total of 112 times.

Photo: Mark Tenally/Associated Press

Mariners Will Start 45-Year-Old Ichiro Suzuki in Opening Season Series

As speculated last year, 45-year-old Ichiro Suzuki will start for the Seattle Mariners when the 2019 MLB season starts Wednesday in Tokyo, Japan.

Mariners manager Scott Servais confirmed the news Monday, telling reporters that the plan is for Ichiro to start both games against the Oakland Athletics on March 20th and the 21st. This is the fifth time Major League Baseball has open its season in Tokyo, and the first time since 2012, when it was also the Mariners and the Athletics taking part in a two-game series.

“Ichiro is going to start for us in the first games against the A’s,” Servais said, per the Japan Times. “He’s playing fine in the outfield. Obviously he showed plenty of arm strength tonight on that one throw to third base. He’ll start the game and we’ll see how it plays out from there.

Ichiro playing in these games gives baseball fans in Japan a potential last-chance to see the ten-time MLB all-star in action. The last time Ichiro played professionally in Japan was during that 2012 Opening Series when he batted .444 with a run batted in across the two games. Ichiro was also traded away from the Mariners to the New York Yankees that year, and he went onto play for the Yankees until 2014. Then, he joined the Miami Marlins for three years before returning to Seattle last season.

His return season in Seattle last year ended abruptly in May when the Mariners announced that he would be moving into a special assistant’s role in the front office for the remainder of the season, essentially temporarily retiring. The decision was mutual between the Mariners and Ichiro, as his on-field performance (.460 OPS and no extra-base hits) wasn’t helping the Mariners be successful.

Ichiro’s 3,089 career MLB hits only rank second to Adrian Beltre for the most hits by a foreign-born player in MLB history.
(Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

With the Mariners deciding to shift towards a rebuild this off-season by not re-signing slugger Nelson Cruz and trading away James Paxton, Mike Zunino, Edwin Diaz, Ben Gamel, Jean Segura, Alex Colome, and Robinson Cano, the team is not expected to be very competitive this season, which can bode well for Ichiro’s chances at remaining on the roster longer than these two games this season.

For this special series, both the Mariners and Athletics are allowed to carry 28 players, but will have their rosters revert back to 25 in the United States. That is why Ichiro’s future with the Mariners is uncertain beyond these two games. However, Ichiro has made it clear that he hopes to continue playing well-beyond 2019. When asked if he wants to play until age 50, Ichiro responded by saying “at least.”

 “A 45-year-old baseball player really shouldn’t be thinking about the future,” Ichiro also said. “It’s about today. I’m just going to take it day by day and we’ll get to that point where it does come.

So far, Spring training hasn’t been kind to Ichiro, as he has just two hits in 25 at-bats, and didn’t record a hit in six at-bats during exhibition games in Japan. However, Servais doesn’t believe Ichiro is under any pressure to get hits, stating that he believes Ichiro has earned right to partake in these two games.

For his MLB career, Ichiro has a .311/.355/.402 batting line and 117 career home runs in 10,728 plate appearances. His 3,089 career MLB hits rank 23rd all-time, which makes him the active all-time hits leader ahead of Los Angeles Angels first baseman/designated hitter Albert Pujols by seven.

Photo: Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press

Report: At Least Five Teams Interested in Free Agent WR Jordy Nelson

At least five NFL teams are interested in signing former Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Nelson is expected to meet with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday, and is also drawing interest from the New England Patriots,  Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Raiders. Oakland released Nelson on March 14 in-wake of acquiring wide receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, but it appears the team has interest bringing Nelson back on a cheaper deal.

Seattle was also interested in signing Nelson last off-season after he was released by Green Bay. The 2016 NFL Comeback Player of the Year is considered to be a favorite of Seahawks general manager John Schneider, who was with the Packers’ front office when Nelson was drafted by the team 36th overall in 2008.

If Seattle and Nelson are able to reach an agreement, he will slot in as the third receiver on the Seahawks depth chart behind Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, therefore giving quarterback Russell Wilson another weapon. Nelson is likely to have a similar role on the other four teams interested in him as well.

It does not appear that the Packers, who Nelson spent the first ten years of his NFL career with and formed a great relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, are interested in a reunion. Green Bay has one of the best receivers in the league in Davante Adams, but with Randall Cobb likely set to move on from the Packers as well, there are some question marks about the depth at receiver behind Adams.

The 33-year-old Nelson, who will turn 34 in May, caught 63 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games for the Raiders last season, bringing his career totals to 613 catches, 8,587 yards, and 72 touchdowns across 151 career games (102 starts).

Photo: Associated Press

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