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Colorado Rockies fall to 11-20 at home after decisive loss to Jacob deGrom, New York Mets to open ho

Colorado Rockies fall to 11-20 at home after decisive loss to Jacob deGrom, New York Mets to open ho

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27011679

After a 2-4 road trip capped by a deflating choke in the ninth inning in Texas on Sunday, the Rockies entered Monday’s opener to a seven-game homestand in critical need of momentum-shifting win.

What the Rockies ran into was one of baseball’s best arms, a career offensive day by a Rocky Mountain local in a Mets’ uniform and more bullpen troubles, as Colorado fell 12-2 at Coors Field. It was their eighth straight loss at home, the first time that’s happened in franchise history.

New York left fielder Brandon Nimmo, a Cheyenne, Wyo., native who grew up a Rockies fan, led the game off with an inside-the-park home run off Tyler Anderson to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Nimmo also blasted a 447-foot homer to center off Harrison Musgrave in the seventh, and those two swings — combined with a shutdown outing by the National League’s ERA leader, Jacob deGrom — were the difference.

On his inside-the-parker, Nimmo flew from home-to-home in just 14.7 seconds, the fifth-fastest time of the Statcast era.

The 25-year-old likely would have been safe by a large margin even if the ball hadn’t careened off a pad on the wall and back toward the infield, away from scrambling Colorado outfielders Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez in a bad omen to open the first.

Michael Conforto’s double set the Mets up for another run in the second, with Jose Bautista grounding him home to make it 2-0. But Colorado responded against deGrom with a pair of doubles by Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra in the bottom of the frame, cutting the score to 2-1 and giving the Rockies’ offense early life.

But deGrom cinched down from there, and first baseman Wilmer Flores’ solo homer in the fourth extended the Mets’ lead to 3-1 before Nimmo made it 4-1 with his second career multi-homer game.

Colorado did knick deGrom for an unearned run in the seventh via consecutive two-out singles by Parra and Ian Desmond, but the 4-2 score wouldn’t stand with the Rockies’ shaky bullpen.

In the eighth, Conforto led off with a double, chasing Musgrave from the game and bringing on Jake McGee. He proceeded to yield a two-run homer to Devin Mesoraco, extending the Mets’ lead to 6-2.

New York tacked on six more insurance in the ninth, five off Jeff Hoffman and another off Brooks Pounders.

With the defeat, the Rockies — sitting in fourth place in their division — dropped to 11-20 at home, tied with Cincinnati for the fewest home victories in the N.L.

Looking ahead

Starting pitcher German Marquez #48 of the Colorado Rockies deliver a pitch in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 14, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Drew Hallowell, Getty Images
Starting pitcher German Marquez #48 of the Colorado Rockies deliver a pitch in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 14, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mets LHP Jason Vargas (2-5, 7.39 ERA) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (4-7, 5.13), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM

Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta has seen the most of Vargas, hitting .364 (4-for-11) with five RBIs and a homer against the southpaw. Vargas is coming off consecutive defeats, including a three-run, five-inning outing in which he gave up two homers in a loss to Arizona last week. Speaking of homers, Marquez has had an issue with those as of late — seven total over his last three outings — but the right-hander fared well in his first start against New York this season, yielding two runs over six innings in a win May 4.

Wednesday: Mets RHP Seth Lugo (2-2, 2.49 ERA) at Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (5-1, 4.65), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM

Thursday: Mets Steven Matz (3-4, 3.31 ERA) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (6-6, 3.59), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM

Friday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-3, 5.91) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (6-7, 5.89), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM

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Bud Black ejected for first time this season following fourth inning of series opener against Mets a

Bud Black ejected for first time this season following fourth inning of series opener against Mets a

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27010975

Rockies manager Bud Black was ejected following the fourth of Colorado’s series opener against the Mets on Monday for arguing an out-of-the-base-path call at first base.

The play that drew Black’s ire ended the Rockies’ offensive threat in the inning, as Gerardo Parra lined out to Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores with Trevor Story on first following a one-out walk.

After Flores nabbed the liner, he just missed tagging out Story as the shortstop made his way back to the bag.

Per major league rules, a runner has three feet on either side of the base path to avoid the fielder from the established base path. Black came out to protest crew chief Bill Welke’s call, and after hearing enough, Welke gave Black his 28th career ejection as a manager and first this season.

Bench coach Mike Redmond took over for Black’s managerial duties in the wake of the ejection.
Colorado Rapids to host Boca Juniors for a friendly match in July

Colorado Rapids to host Boca Juniors for a friendly match in July

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27010976

The Boca Juniors are coming to Colorado.

The Colorado Rapids will face the Argentine pro team in a friendly match at 7 p.m. July 24 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“We are excited to be hosting such a historic team as Boca Juniors,” Rapids executive vice president and general manager Pádraig Smith said in a news release. “They are one of the best known clubs in the world and we’re thrilled to give our fans the opportunity to be part of this terrific matchup.”

In their 113-year history, the Boca Juniors have claimed 18 international titles, six Copa Libertadores and 44 national titles — including the last two.

The Rapids are currently 2-9-3 in the 2018 Major League Soccer season, ranking last in the Western Conference.

Tickets for the game go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at
Journal: MLB’s attendance is down 5.9 percent in 2018, but struggling Rockies remain immune to the

Journal: MLB’s attendance is down 5.9 percent in 2018, but struggling Rockies remain immune to the

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27010890

During two different April road trips, Rockies veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was already noticing the roots of a troubling trend across major league baseball this season, where attendance is down 5.9 percent from 2017 and those numbers haven’t risen annually for six years now.

“It’s really obvious when you go to Miami, and there’s nobody in the stands,” Gonzalez said. “And places like Pittsburgh — which had really impressed me because not too long ago, we were going in there and the place was packed and they had a really good team — were half-empty too. The atmosphere felt like fans didn’t really care, even though granted, when we went there, it was super cold.”

Early-season inclement weather is surely partly to blame for the 2018 attendance dip, as freezing cold temps across the midwest and northeast not only led to a major league-record number of postponements in April, it also made sitting in the stands for nine innings less than appealing.

But even as summer’s warmed, attendance — which is counted as the number of tickets sold, and not the exact number of people who come through a ballpark’s turnstiles — is still down considerably. Through Sunday, June 17, overall attendance is down 1,846,631 from the same point last season, and per-game attendance has fallen 1,739 from 29,361 to 27,623. The major league average hasn’t dipped below 28,000 since 2002.

Not surprisingly, the teams already facing double-digit deficits in the wild card and divisional races — including some who made their rebuilding intentions clear in the offseason following poor 2017 showings — are the ones with the biggest negative swings in attendance.

American League East cellar dwellers Toronto and Baltimore have seen huge drop-offs, with the Blue Jays a major league-worst, down 424,840 on the season (28.7 percent decrease) and 11,180 per game. Meanwhile the Orioles, sporting baseball’s worst record at 20-50 and on pace to easily lose 100-plus games, have seen attendance fall 28.4 percent to the tune of 7,956 per game.

And after the offseason fire sale of a multitude of stars by Derek Jeter and the Marlins’ new ownership group, Miami has the worst attendance in all of baseball and the biggest drop-off in the National League from 2017 at 359,006, or a staggering 49.9 percent decrease.

Rockies starter Chad Bettis said the difference is consistently palpable in ballparks in which its inhabitants are struggling.

“I’ve noticed,” Bettis said. “You pay attention a little bit more and then all of a sudden you find yourself being like, ‘Oh, this is kind of a light crowd on a Friday night or Saturday night.'”

But, beyond the competitive aspect, why the continual drop in crowds?

Is it pace-of-play related with the average game being three hours, four minutes? It it an issue of money considering that — per Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index — the average cost of a non-premium ticket grew 2.7 percent to $32.44 in 2018, while the average cost for a family of four to attend a game is $230.64? Has the reign of baseball’s “three true outcomes” — the walk, strikeout and home run, and specifically the later two — cheapened the game for too many?

Or, more simply, is the decline due to the increasing means by which fans can watch from the comfort of their recliner?

“I don’t know if (money) is the reason why, or if it’s just because there’s so many TV deals and streaming that people can just stay at home and watch,” Bettis said. “I think that plays into it.”

People are still turning out to watch the Rockies, though, despite a dismal 11-19 home record and a June swoon that’s dropped them from first to fourth place in the division in a matter of weeks. Coors Field, as columnist Mark Kiszla recently opined, remains as seductive as ever despite those hometown woes.

“This is a different case, because Coors Field is a beautiful, great ballpark in the middle of the city where there is a bunch of stuff to do,” Gonzalez pointed out. “If you come to the stadium, there’s a lot of things to enjoy more than just baseball games — beautiful views, The Rooftop. It’s a nice, relaxing place and people will come here and enjoy it no matter what.”

Those other mid- or small-market cities with sputtering or, at best, inconsistent clubs could only be so lucky as the Rockies, who over the past dozen seasons have consistently ranked in the top half of the National League in attendance despite just three postseason showings in that time.

This year, Colorado is one of 12 major league teams that have seen an attendance increase of 7,148, or 238 more fans per game. That’s largely a credit to LoDo’s influence, the easy-going, party feel of which has seeped into The Rooftop and throughout Coors Field, a stadium now more of a beacon for social butterflies and family outings than a true baseball cathedral.

“I don’t think any city likes to have a bad team — that’s the bottom line in most places when it comes to attendance,” Gonzalez said. “If you have a bad team, people are going to be like, ‘I’m tired of this (crap). I don’t want to watch this team.’ Sometimes they say that here, but they keep coming out.”

Footnotes. Right-hander Carlos Esteves threw a simulated game under the watchful eye of Rockies manager Bud Black and pitching coach Steve Foster prior to Monday’s series opener against the Mets. The 25-year-old, currently on the disabled list with an elbow strain, is going to be evaluated by the Colorado training staff in a couple days and could find himself on a rehab assignment after that… Brandon Nimmo, a product of the Rocky Mountains out of Cheyenne, Wyo., played left field and hit a leadoff insider-the-park homer for the Mets off Tyler Anderson in the first inning. Though he attended Cheyenne East High School, he played American Legion ball for Post 6 because East didn’t have a team. He then became the first first-round draft pick out of the state of Wyoming when New York selected him No. 13 overall in 2011. The 25-year-old is hitting .274 with 10 homers.

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Walter Bahr dies at 91: Last living member of U.S. World Cup team that upset England

Walter Bahr dies at 91: Last living member of U.S. World Cup team that upset England

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27010891

When Walter Bahr walked off the field in Brazil after the famous United States victory over England at the 1950 World Cup, he didn’t expect to become a soccer celebrity.

Known for many years as the father of two NFL placekickers, Bahr regained prominence in his own right when the Americans returned to soccer’s showcase in 1990 after a 40-year-absence.

The last living player from that 1950 team, Bahr died Monday in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, at age 91, according to granddaughter Lindsey D. Bahr, a film writer for The Associated Press. His death was caused by complications that resulted from a broken hip.

“I say the older I get, the more famous I become,” Bahr told the AP in 2010. “I wasn’t for famous for 50 years.”

A team of soccer unknowns, the U.S. won 1-0 over an England side that included Alf Ramsey and Tom Finney, who earned knighthoods.

“Walter Bahr was one of the greatest people to ever be part of soccer in the United States,” former U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said. “Not only was he a pioneer and a fantastic ambassador for our game over many years, he was a true gentleman.”

Bahr was portrayed by Wes Bentley in the 2005 movie “The Game of Their Lives.”

“A true legend in soccer in the United States,” USSF President Carlos Cordeiro said. “His contribution to one of the most iconic moments in U.S. soccer history was only part of a lifetime of selfless contributions to the game. As a coach, a mentor, a friend, and a colleague, Walter touched the lives of so many people in our sport, ensuring a legacy that will last for generations.”

Quick with a story, a laugh and a smile, Bahr started all three U.S. matches at the 1950 World Cup. A defender who scored one goal in 19 international appearances, made his international debut in a World Cup qualifier against Cuba in 1949, joining a national team that had lost its seven previous international matches by a combined 45-2. The Americans tied Cuba 1-1 in his debut, lost to Mexico, then beat Cuba as Bahr scored and earned a trip to the 1950 tournament in Brazil.

The U.S. wasted a late lead to Spain in its opener and lost 3-1. England was coming off a win over Chile.

“We knew we weren’t in the same class as the English team,” Bahr said. “But anybody worth their salt when they go out onto the field, they always think there’s some possibility that something can happen, that they could steal a victory.”

In the match at Belo Horizonte on June 29, 1950, Bahr collected a throw-in from Ed McIlvenny and took a shot from about 25 yards that Joe Gaetjens deflected past goalkeeper Bert Williams with a diving header late in the first half. Frank Borghi had some spectacular saves that made the lead stand up.

“As much as we were very thrilled and pleased to win the game, most of us felt the same way: ‘How’s that English club going to go back home and face their fans?'” Bahr said. “It was a lot easier for us to explain the victory than for them to go back and explain that defeat.”

Born on April 1, 1927, Bahr was a graduate of Temple University and part of the 1948 U.S. Olympic team. He won American Soccer League titles with the Philadelphia Nationals in 1950, ’51, ’53 and ’55 and with Uhrik Truckers in ’56.

Bahr coached the Philadelphia Spartans from 1958-63 and the Philadelphia Ukrainians from 1964-69, then became Temple’s coach from 1970-73. He coached Penn State to 12 NCAA tournament appearances from 1974-88, leading the Nittany Lions to the semifinals in 1979, when he was United Soccer Coaches College Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame with the entire 1950 team in 1976.

He is survived by his wife 71 years, the former Davies Uhler; daughter Davies Ann Desiderio, and sons Matt, Chris, and Casey. All three sons played in the North American Soccer League, and Chris played in 1976 Olympic qualifiers. Matt and Chris each won two Super Bowls.

A memorial service is scheduled for June 29 at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in State College, Pennsylvania.
FIBA changes way women’s basketball teams qualify for Olympics

FIBA changes way women’s basketball teams qualify for Olympics

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27010555

NEW YORK — FIBA is changing the way women’s basketball teams qualify for the Olympics and world cup.

The International Basketball Federation announced Sunday the new system that will give more countries a chance to qualify for both major international events.

“It will give more teams a chance to play and host tournaments,” said USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley, who is on the FIBA executive board.

First round qualifiers for the Olympics will be held in November 2019. Those tournaments will be geographically based with contests in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. The Oceania region that includes Australia will now play as part of Asia for these tournaments. Sixteen teams will advance to play in four mini-tournaments around the world in February.

The top three finishers in each of those mini-tournaments will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, making up the 12-team field. Japan already has an automatic berth as the host nation and the winner of the world cup this fall will also get a bid to the Olympics.

“In the past we’d have a mini camp, three or four days of practice, now it’s practice and competition,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said in a phone interview. “It’s much more meaningful and there is more purpose to when the team gets together.”

The Americans have won the last six Olympic gold medals and the past two world championships — now called the world cup.

The players are in favor of the change.

“Who wants to practice?” Angel McCoughtry said laughing after her WNBA team practiced in New York on Monday. “It will definitely get more players to want to attend so that they can play.”

McCoughtry, who has played around the world in various leagues, has seen the sport grow.

“There are definitely more talented women playing across the globe now,” she said. “This could help grow the game even more.”

All of women’s basketball will take a break in November and February for the tournaments. While it won’t really change the WNBA schedule, it will allow players who compete in Asian leagues to come back and train with their national teams.

The same process will repeat itself in 2021 to determine what teams make the following year’s world cup.

There will also be FIBA women’s Continental Cups played in the summer of non-Olympic and world cup years.

“We definitely will play in the Continental Cups,” Callan said. “It will give more of our players a chance to gain experience.”

The only countries that will be hurt by the change are ones that use college players on their national teams as the November and February tournament dates conflict with the NCAA season.
Daylen Kountz, Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball commit, focused on learning college game

Daylen Kountz, Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball commit, focused on learning college game

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27010387

Maybe it will be a necessary conversation further down the road, before the lights go on for the 2018-19 season and Daylen Kountz officially takes his place as the latest homegrown talent in coach Tad Boyle’s rotation.

Being from Colorado always intensifies the microscope a little bit when playing for the Buffaloes, adding another x-factor to what already is challenging transition from high school to college. Some, like former forward Josh Scott, were able to shrug off such pressure. Others like 2018 graduate Dom Collier — like Kountz, a product of Denver East — admitted that homegrown pressure felt like a bit of an anchor early in his career.

Maybe Kountz will feel additional pressure. Maybe he won’t. After arriving on campus this month to begin his first official workouts and begin summer school, Boyle just wants Kountz to focus on adapting to the college game.

“Daylen right now is an elite-level athlete,” Boyle said. “He’s very good in the open floor. Learning to play in the half court, learning to play without the ball, are going to be some areas where he’s going to have to adjust to and learn. But that’s what coming to college is all about. He’s a terrific talent.

“In the open floor, with his athleticism and ability to get to the rim, he’s pretty special. When he can’t do that, we’ve got to find other ways to make him effective. It’s very early in the process.”

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JJ Hickson, former Denver Nuggets forward, faces armed robbery charge in Georgia

JJ Hickson, former Denver Nuggets forward, faces armed robbery charge in Georgia

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27010081

NEWNAN, Ga. — A former NBA player from Georgia has been arrested for an armed robbery.

Coweta County Sheriff spokesman Jimmy Yarbrough tells news outlets 29-year-old James Edward “JJ” Hickson Jr. was arrested Friday and is being held without bond. It was unknown if he has an attorney.

Yarbrough says Hickson was charged in connection with a home invasion. He says at least two people were involved, but only Hickson faces charges.

Hickson was a standout basketball player at Joseph Wheeler High School in Marietta and attended North Carolina State before being drafted in 2008 by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also played for the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards throughout his eight-year career. He most recently played basketball overseas for the Lebanon Champville SC team.
Trades within the lottery could jolt an already intriguing NBA draft this week

Trades within the lottery could jolt an already intriguing NBA draft this week

19/06/2018, Denver, Multi Sports, Denver Post Publication, Article # 27010082

We are now three days away from the NBA draft, which is shaping up to be as unpredictable as any in recent memory.

Here’s a rundown of what we are hearing about some of the most intriguing and interesting story lines heading into the league’s annual selection show:

— We have made the case for why Luka Doncic should be the No. 1 overall pick. If Doncic were American with his level of production and accomplishment at age 19, he would be the undisputed top pick.

Instead, he might still be on the board at No. 4 or No. 5 considering the way things are trending.

That could prove to be a boon to the teams with those picks, the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks. If Doncic somehow gets to fifth, he seems destined to go to Dallas. If he is on the board for the fourth pick, things could get interesting.

Several teams further down the draft board could be interested in jumping up to get Doncic. Memphis, which has designs on again becoming a factor in the West after missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years, could turn the fourth pick into multiple pieces — particularly if that includes moving on from Chandler Parsons’s remaining two years of salary.

Could the New York Knicks, for example, send Tim Hardaway Jr. and the ninth pick? Could the Los Angeles Clippers send the 12th and 13th picks with Tobias Harris? Could the Cleveland Cavaliers send George Hill and the eighth pick? Could the Charlotte Hornets send the 11th pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams?

Any one of those moves might pique the interest of the Grizzlies. And, if Doncic is on the board, there will likely be a lot of teams trying to get him there — assuming Memphis itself doesn’t want to take him.

— Beyond Doncic, the next most interesting name Thursday night will be Michael Porter Jr., who has the widest range of anyone near the top of this year’s class. He could go anywhere from Sacramento with the second pick to New York with the ninth selection.

His talent is undeniable. There’s a reason Porter was considered a top-three selection this time a year ago. But his ongoing health issues — both the back injury and subsequent surgery that knocked him out for virtually all of his lone season at Missouri, and complications from the lengthy layoff that delayed his recovery — could impact his stock.

Those issues include a canceled workout last week because of a strained hip.

Porter has the kind of skill set every team is looking for. If healthy, he would undoubtedly be at the top of the draft. He may wind up there anyway. But as Thursday night unfolds, where Porter goes will be a big story line, and will have a domino effect on other prospects and teams.

— The weird thing about this draft is that five of the top eight picks — and possibly as many as five of the top six — will be big men, in a league that is rapidly moving away from such players unless they are truly elite. Meanwhile, good teams such as Philadelphia, Boston and Golden State at the back of the first round will have their choice of wing players who can immediately contribute.

Guys such as Donte DiVincenzo, Jacob Evans, Grayson Allen, Melvin Frazier and Khyri Thomas all could help playoff teams right away, which is atypical for players picked late in the first round.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to sort out exactly which of the bigs at the top of the draft will be the best. Deandre Ayton will go first to Phoenix, but there are legitimate questions about his ability to pick things up defensively. Marvin Bagley was very productive at Duke, but there are questions about what position he’s going to play in the NBA. Jaren Jackson Jr. is perhaps the player best suited for the modern game, but he didn’t have the stats of Ayton or Bagley in college. Mohamed Bamba has the chance to be a Rudy Gobert-type defensive presence, and might actually develop a jump shot on offense, but there are concerns about his motor. Wendell Carter Jr. was overshadowed by Bagley at Duke, but could be a better fit at the next level.

Wherever they go, all five players will be tied together for years to come, and it will be fun to see how they shake out over time.

— Something else to watch will be teams trying to shed salary. Denver has been targeted as one possibility to move on from its pick, 14th overall, to shed the contracts of Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur (roughly $21 million combined) so as to offer center Nikola Jokic a max contract as a restricted free agent this summer.

As mentioned before, Parsons could also be on the market. Perhaps the 11th pick will be in play for the Hornets, who are pushing the luxury tax and have several bad deals on their books.

Half the league is going to be in that same boat this summer, and only a few teams have the money to take on bad deals. Whether it happens Thursday or in July, expect a lot of teams to try to get rid of bad deals one way or another. Draft pick compensation, historically, is the best way to do so.