Marlins trade 3 stars to the Blue Jays

940473.jpg

Marlins trade 3 stars to the Blue Jays

From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI (AP) -- The Miami Marlins' spending spree a year ago didn't work, so now they're trying another payroll purge, shedding some of their biggest stars and their multimillion-dollar salaries in one blockbuster deal.Rebranded in a new ballpark at the start of 2012, the Marlins were up to their old ways Tuesday, swapping high-priced talent for top prospects. Miami traded All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and ace right-hander Josh Johnson to the Toronto Blue Jays, a person familiar with the agreement said.The person confirmed the trade to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams weren't officially commenting. The person said the trade sent several of the Blue Jays' best young players to Miami.The stunning agreement came less than a year after the Marlins added Reyes, Buehrle and closer Heath Bell in an uncharacteristic 191 million spending binge as they moved into a new ballpark. The acquisitions raised high hopes, but the Marlins instead finished last in the NL East.The latest paring of salary actually began in July, when the Marlins parted with former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Omar Infante and right-hander Anibal Sanchez, among others. Bell, the team's high-profile bust, was traded to Arizona last month.Under owner Jeffrey Loria, long the target of fan acrimony, the Marlins have usually been among baseball's thriftiest teams. Management pledged that would change with the new ballpark, but team officials were disappointed with attendance in 2012, and revenue fell far short of their projections.Even so, the blockbuster deal came as a shock. The players involved must undergo physicals before the trade becomes final.Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' precocious slugger, wasn't involved in the deal but wasn't happy about it.Stanton said he was mad about the trade "Plain & Simple," he tweeted shortly after the news broke.The housecleaning was also the subject of much mirth on Twitter."Good trade, I think we won it," tweeted FakeSamson, a site that mocks Marlins president David Samson.Toronto star Jose Bautista had a different interpretation."Its a good day to be a bluejay!" he tweeted.The swap was easier for the Marlins to swing because of their longstanding policy of refusing to include no-trade clauses in contracts.The deal gave an immediate boost to the Blue Jays, who have not reached the playoffs since winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993. Toronto went 73-89 this season and finished fourth in the AL East for the fourth straight year, again falling short in a division that includes big spenders.The Marlins changed their name a year ago but failed to change their losing ways, and instead of contending for a playoff berth, they finished 69-93, their worst record since 1999.The Marlins drew more than 2.2 million fans but had projected attendance of nearly 3 million. Team officials blamed the difference in part on manager Ozzie Guillen's laudatory comments early in the year about former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, which antagonized a large segment of an already-small fan base.Guillen was fired after only one season with the team and replaced this month by the Marlins' former backup catcher, Mike Redmond.President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest hinted at a big change in direction less than two weeks ago."We've kind of lost our Marlins way," he said. "The real Marlins way was we always outperformed our challenges. Whatever our challenges were, whether it was playing in a football stadium or weather or a lack of fans, or lack of revenue for that matter, we always found a way to outperform our challenges."It now appears management will field a team with the expectation players will outperform their contracts, which was the franchise model for most of the past decade. The roster shake-up during the season reduced the payroll to 90.3 million from 112 million on opening day, and it now could be dramatically lower next season.Reyes has 96 million left on a deal that expires in 2018. Buehrle has 52 million remaining on a deal that expires in 2015.While the team was a disappointment, newcomers Buehrle and Reyes played up to expectations. Buehrle went 13-13 with a 3.74 ERA and topped 200 innings for the 12th year in a row. Reyes hit .287 with 40 steals in 160 games.Johnson, who led the NL in ERA in 2010, went 8-14 this year with a 3.81 ERA. He was limited to nine starts in 2011 because of right shoulder inflammation.In their 20 seasons the Marlins have reached the postseason only twice, as wild-card teams in 1997 and 2003. Both times they won the World Series.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

bruins_anton_khudobin_032517.jpg

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Oregon beats Kansas 74-60 to punch Final Four ticket

oregon_final_four_032517.jpg

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Oregon beats Kansas 74-60 to punch Final Four ticket

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Oregon lost one of its best players to an injury just before the NCAA Tournament, had to survive two nail-biters to reach the Midwest Regional finals, and then faced a top-seeded Kansas team that had romped to the brink of the Final Four.

Of course, the Ducks would rise to the occasion.

With swagger and verve and downright prolific shooting, the plucky team that everybody wanted to count out rolled to a 74-60 victory over the Jayhawks on Saturday night, earning the Ducks their first trip to the national semifinals in nearly 80 years.

"You feel so good for so many people," said Ducks coach Dana Altman, who is headed to his first Final Four after 13 trips to the NCAA Tournament. "It's a team effort. You feel good for a lot of people."

Indeed, a whole lot of people had a hand in it.

Tyler Dorsey hit six 3s and poured in 27 points, Dillon Brooks added 17 and Jordan Bell finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in a virtuoso performance for the Ducks (33-5), who seized the lead with 16 minutes left in the first half and never trailed the rest of the way.

Now, they'll face the winner of Sunday's game between North Carolina and Kentucky in the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona. It will be their first trip since 1939, when the Tall Firs won it all.

Player of the year candidate Frank Mason III had 21 points in his final game for the Jayhawks (31-5), but the offensive fireworks and steady poise that had carried them to a 13th straight Big 12 title fizzled just 40 minutes from campus on a night where very little went right.

Star freshman Josh Jackson was mired in early foul trouble. Sharpshooting guard Devonte Graham never got on track. And the swagger the Jayhawks showed in humiliating Purdue in the Sweet 16 simply evaporated for a team that rolled to the Elite Eight by an average margin of 30 points.

"I'm disappointed for them more than I am for me," said Kansas coach Bill Self, who fell to 2-7 in Elite Eight game, including four defeats as a No. 1 seed. "But the one thing that happened today, and it's hard to admit, the best team did win today."

The Ducks knew everything was stacked against them, but the point was only driven home when their bus passed the Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City on the way to the arena. Thousands of fans in red and blue were rallying hours before the tipoff, turning it into a de facto road game.

But the torrid shooting of Brooks, Ennis and Dorsey quickly deflated the sold-out Sprint Center, and sent a warning shot to the Jayhawks that they were in for a fight.

"You've got to give them credit," Graham said. "They hit some big shots."

Foul trouble sent Jackson to the bench for much of the first half, allowing the Ducks carve to out a comfortable lead. Then Dorsey finished the half with back-to-back 3s, including a deep bank shot at the buzzer, as the Ducks pranced to their locker room relishing in a 44-33 advantage.

"When you play hard throughout the whole game," Brooks said, "you catch some breaks."

The Ducks kept dancing in the second half, beating the Jayhawks at their own game: Getting into transition, passing up good shots for better ones and knocking down 3-pointers.

The Ducks' lead swelled to 55-37 when Brooks drilled another shot from the perimeter, and frustration began to creep into the Kansas bench. It was only compounded every time Jackson or Graham tossed up a shot that clanked hollowly off the iron, the Jayhawks' sense of desperation slowly growing.

Jackson didn't score until midway through the second half, and said later he'd "never been in such a tough position." Graham was 0 for 7 from the field, missing all six of his 3s.

The Jayhawks eventually began to whittle into their deficit, doing most of the work at the free-throw line. But the Ducks kept answering just enough to keep the crowd from giving Kansas anything extra.

When Svi Mykhailiuk scored to make it 64-55, Ennis answered with a driving basket. When Mykhailiuk buried a 3 from the corner to make it 66-60 with 2:49 left, Dorsey answered at the other end with another 3-pointer as the shot-clock expired to give Oregon some breathing room.

A few minutes later, the Ducks were cutting down the nets to end a satisfying trip to Kansas City.

"The seven years we've been at Oregon, we've had great guys to work with," Altman said, "but I also feel good for all the other players, the ex-players, who have built Oregon basketball. Like we said, 1939 is a long drought, but we owe all the ex-players."