‘Sorry you had to see that’ — How baserunning has become an embarrassing problem in Major League Baseball

Editor’s note: From rising strikeout totals and unwritten rules debates to connecting with a new generation of fans and a looming labor battle, baseball is at a crossroads. As MLB faces these challenges, we are embarking on a season-long look at The State of Baseball, examining the storylines that will determine how the game looks in 2021 and far beyond.

Six years ago, in a spring training game, the Mariners had a runner at first base with one out in the eighth inning of a blowout. Andy Van Slyke, the first-base coach for the Mariners, told the runner, a young minor leaguer, that, given the score, there was no need to crush the shortstop or second baseman on a potential double play. Instead, just peel off toward right field. Then the batter struck out for the second out. The next batter hit a ground ball deep in the hole at shortstop. The runner on first base, not realizing that a double play was no longer possible, didn’t run all the way to second base. He peeled off toward right field. If he had kept running, he probably would have beaten the throw.

Van Slyke, astonished and confused, returned to the dugout.

“What the f— was that?!” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon asked him.

Van Slyke just shrugged.

“I have no idea what that was,” he said. “I didn’t think I had to tell him he had to run to second.”

That was another example, albeit extreme, of an on-field crisis that faces baseball today: bad baserunning, the worst I can remember in the 41 years that I have covered the game. The players today are spectacularly talented — bigger, stronger, faster and better than ever. They overpower the sport with their amazing physical gifts, yet too many of them have no instincts for the game. They have no feel for the game. They have less of an idea and an understanding of how to play the game than any time I can remember. And their most egregious mistakes are made on the bases, mistakes that happen in every ballpark, every night.

“Baserunning is terrible today,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “The two things we need the most work on is outfielders throwing and baserunning. Baserunning is just horrible.”

“Baserunning is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Van Slyke, who played in the major leagues from 1983 to 1995 and was one of the game’s premier baserunners. “It started a generation ago, and it has gotten progressively worse. It’s the worst part of Major League Baseball.”

Hall of Famer Paul Molitor might be the best baserunner of his era — one of the best of any era.

“The value of baserunning has been diminished somewhat,” he said. “I watch the game. It’s a little hard to watch these days. And I see [baserunning] mistakes constantly. There are just too many instances where you say to yourself, ‘What is this guy thinking about?'”

Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley, who played in the major leagues from 1984 to 1992, agreed.

“There are still some good baserunners, but nowhere near as many as there used to be,” he said.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was a great baserunner. His famous stolen base against the Yankees in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series helped the Red Sox come back from a 3-0 series deficit. Then Boston went on to win its first World Series since 1918.

“Baserunning is not as valued today,” he said. “And it is not done as well as in past years.”

The Cubs’ Kris Bryant is one of the game’s best baserunners. When asked about baserunning in the majors, he tried to suppress a laugh.

“It is not talked about enough,” he said. “It’s gotten a little lazy. Baserunning is only about effort. But we do have some highlight baserunning that picks up the slack for others who don’t take it seriously.”

Buck Showalter managed in the big leagues for 20 years. No one loves the game more than he does, and no one wants to see it played properly more than he does.

“Baserunning, oh my gosh, I wouldn’t know where to start,” he said. “I do a couple of Yankee games a month (as a broadcaster for YES Network). I see two or three baserunning mistakes [per game]. Baserunning is the ultimate team play. If you don’t run the bases well, you are selfish. We have lost the shame of the strikeout in the game. We are losing the shame of bad baserunning.”

It is not necessarily the fault of the players. The industry, infatuated with home runs being the primary way to score runs in today’s game, has de-emphasized baserunning. It hasn’t taught it very well. It doesn’t pay for great baserunning. It doesn’t penalize bad baserunning. The industry has decided that the risk of getting thrown out trying to advance 90 feet is far greater than the reward for hitting a three-run home run. That was one of Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver’s philosophies 50 years ago.

But the industry has gone too far. It has taken one of the most exciting and most critical parts of the game and devalued it. In doing so, it has turned baseball into a slower game, one base at a time. It has become a game that, at times, can be spectacularly boring.

“[Former Twins manager] Tom Kelly had a conversation with [then-Yankees manager] Joe Torre 20 years ago, and they agreed that other than starting pitching, they thought that baserunning was the important component for a team’s success,” Molitor said. “We have definitely gotten away from that. To take away an element of the game that has been such a huge part of the game’s history just doesn’t seem right. I hope we start moving backwards in that direction.”

To be fair, there are some excellent baserunners today. Bryant is one. So is Javy Baez. So is Mike Trout.

“[Shohei] Ohtani is good,” Baker said. “He checks everyone [on the field], every time.”

The best might be Mookie Betts, who helped the world-champion Dodgers win two games in the 2020 World Series with brilliant baserunning.

The Padres, at least statistically, appear to be an exception to bad baserunning. Through June 6, they led the major leagues in stolen bases by a wide margin. They went first-to-third more often than any other major league team, and they had made fewer outs on the bases — eight — than any other team, 20 fewer times than the Yankees.

“We feel that baserunning is a huge component of baseball,” manager Jayce Tingler said.

Not coincidentally, the Padres are 12 games over .500.

“There are a handful of games every year that are won solely on baserunning,” Bryant said.

This year, the Yankees’ Gleyber Torres scored from first base on an infield single. The Astros were in a severe shift. Third base and home plate were left unattended. Torres recognized that just by watching the ball and alertly circled the bases.

“That was nothing but awareness,” Bradley said. “No one was telling him or waving him.”

This year, the Padres’ Manny Machado broke up a double play by up-ending Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman with a hard, clean, legal slide halfway to second base. But we have lost our way so badly on baserunning, some people thought it was a dirty play.

“Nothing dirty about that,” Showalter said. “That was an ultimate baserunning play because it was a team play.”

To be fair, bad baserunning plays have happened in all eras. In 1908, in a pennant-race game, the Giants’ Fred Merkle was on first base in the ninth inning when the winning run was driven in against the Cubs. But Merkle, at age 19, didn’t run to second because the fans were storming the field. Since it was a force at second and he never arrived there safely, the Cubs appealed the play. He was called out.

The Cubs eventually won the game, the pennant and the World Series. It has been forever known as the play that gave him the nickname “Bonehead.”

In 1926, the great Babe Ruth made the final out of the World Series when he was caught trying to steal second with Bob Meusel (a .315 hitter) at the plate in a 3-2 game.

In 1959, in Harvey Haddix’s 12-inning perfect game, Joe Adcock lost a home run in the 13th inning when he passed Hank Aaron on the bases because Aaron thought the walk-off home run by Adcock had just hit the wall, and he ran off the field.

But there are more baserunning mistakes today than perhaps ever.

“Today,” Showalter said, “baserunning is a necessary evil.”

So, how bad is it? What began the demise of baserunning? Can we put a stop sign up on all these mistakes?


Where was he going on that play?

The mistakes aren’t just happening in meaningless, blowout games in spring training. They are happening in the biggest games of the season.

In the fourth inning of Game 7 of the 2020 National League Championship Series, the Braves had a 3-2 lead over the Dodgers. The Braves had runners on second and third with no one out.

Nick Markakis hit a hard ground ball to third baseman Justin Turner. The Braves’ Dansby Swanson, who has an exceptionally high baseball IQ, got trapped off third base.

Where was he going on that play?

Turner got him in a rundown and, with a headlong dive, tagged him out. For some reason, the Braves’ Austin Riley, who started the play at second base, decided to try to advance to third. Turner, from his back, threw to shortstop Corey Seager, who tagged out Riley for a bizarre and crippling double play that kept the Braves from going to the World Series for the first time since 1999.

It was the first time that a double play on a ground ball, with runners on second and third and no outs, had happened in a major league game since the Mets ran themselves into a double play in July 2019. But the winner of that game wasn’t advancing to the World Series. On this day, Dodgers came back to beat the Braves 4-3. They later went on to beat the Rays in the World Series.

“That play can’t happen,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

But it did.

Does Molitor slap his forehead in amazement after seeing such poor baserunning?

“All the time,” he said. “I used to think when I was more directly involved that you could watch the postseason and bookmark about 15 plays that you could use in a video that when these things happened, they cost teams games on the biggest stage of the season.”

Multiple other baserunning mistakes occurred in the 2020 postseason, plays that simply can’t happen in games of that magnitude.

In Game 3 of the 2020 Braves-Marlins NLDS, Atlanta’s Travis d’Arnaud was on third base with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning of a scoreless game. Markakis hit a line drive to left-center field. The Marlins’ Corey Dickerson made a diving, tumbling catch, then got to his feet. But d’Arnaud didn’t tag up on the play; he should have scored easily.

In Game 2 of the Twins-Astros series, an elimination game for the Twins, Byron Buxton was sent in to pinch run in the eighth inning with the Twins behind 2-1. He was picked off at first base for the third out of the inning. The Astros won 3-1 and advanced. The Twins went home.

The 2021 season began embarrassingly for the defending champion Dodgers. On Opening Day, Cody Bellinger hit a drive to deep left field. Justin Turner, the runner on first with no outs, took off, rounded second base and was a third of the way to third base — that’s too far, he should have stopped at second to see if the ball had been caught — when Rockies left fielder Raimel Tapia just missed making a leaping catch at the wall. The ball went over the fence for a home run. But Turner thought the ball had been caught, so he retouched second and headed back to first — all the while with his head down. On the way, he passed Bellinger on the bases. Bellinger lost a home run and was credited with a single.

“It was a confusing play,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Our players today, for all their talent and greatness, are confused far too often on the bases. In spring training 2019, Yankees manager Aaron Boone, during infield drills, instructed his players that when the Yankees are in the field, if there’s an infield fly rule, his fielders should consider intentionally letting the ball drop because it might totally confuse the runners on the other team. They might not know what to do, and they might run themselves into another out.

A couple of weeks later, on Opening Day against the Orioles, the Yankees had runners on first and second with one out when Gary Sanchez hit a towering popup — infield fly rule, batter is out automatically — that Orioles catcher Jesus Sucre dropped. Luke Voit, the runner on second, got confused and took off for third — even though he didn’t have to go anywhere. He was tagged out in a rundown for a double play.

The next day, Boone separately texted the three broadcasters who did the game on ESPN.

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” he wrote.

In 2017, the Phillies’ Odubel Herrera was on third base when the hitter walked, loading the bases. Herrera, thinking the bases were already loaded, started to walk home. If not for third-base coach Juan Samuel, Herrera would have been tagged out going home on a walk.

“I watch two baseball games a day, sometimes three,” said Pete Rose, who played in the major leagues for 24 years. “One week this year, I saw three games in which the team was running off the field with only two outs. How can you run the bases well when you don’t know how many outs there are?”

Seemingly every night, someone gets doubled off a base on a line drive when that runner is taught to freeze, then start edging back to the bag until he sees the ball go through the infield.

On May 23, the Cardinals’ Harrison Bader led off the fourth inning with a double. Justin Williams hit a relatively soft line drive to Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner, who was playing in shallow right field because of a shift. He made a leaping grab, set himself and doubled Bader off second.

“I hear it all the time, a guy gets doubled off on a line drive, and they say, ‘There was nothing he could do about it.’ Bulls—!” Showalter said. “My coach in college and high school would have said, ‘Where in the hell are you going?!’ They [players today] don’t know how to freeze on a line drive and start the momentum back. The only double-off you should ever have is when you’re on first base and a line drive is hit and the first baseman is holding the runner. That’s it. I don’t want to hear any other excuses. None.”

Seemingly every night a runner makes a poor decision to advance to the next base — or not advance to the next base.

On May 10, the Astros lost 5-4 to the Angels. The final out of a one-run game was made when Houston’s Yuli Gurriel, who was on second base, ran to third on a ground ball to third baseman Phil Gosselin, who would have had to make a semi-difficult throw to get Carlos Correa at first. But Gosselin didn’t even have to throw because Gurriel ran into an out at third. All Gosselin had to do was reach down and tag him.

“I didn’t say anything to him, he knew he made a mistake,” Baker said. “And he’s one of our best baserunners. You make that mistake in Cuba, you might not eat for a week. But there are no repercussions [here] for making a mistake like that. No one is going to take your job.”

On May 2, the Braves’ Ozzie Albies reached base on a throwing error by Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette. But Albies lost track of the ball. He thought he was out, so he slowly turned into fair territory and started walking to second base. He was tagged out. Then he glared at his first-base coach, Eric Young, for not telling him where the ball was.

On May 30, the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez reached on an infield hit in the eighth inning. He took off for second when the ball skipped past Tigers first baseman Jonathan Schoop, but the ball bounced right back to Schoop. Sanchez inexplicably stopped running halfway to second, then started again, but it was too late. He made the last out of the inning, down four runs.

“Here’s the other part of the baserunning drills that they don’t do anymore: Every time you run to first base and run through the bag, you hit the bag, and you were taught to immediately look to your right to check for an overthrow,” Showalter said. “Every time.”

Even in an instance when a player like the Cubs’ Javy Baez makes a clever baserunning decision, it exposes the game’s lack of knowledge about running the bases.

On May 27, Baez hit a ground ball to the third baseman with two outs and a runner, Willson Contreras, on second. The throw pulled Pirates first baseman Will Craig off the bag. Baez stopped before he could be tagged, then got in a rundown between first base and home, which is entirely legal.

Craig could have just tagged the bag and the inning would have been over. It’s a force play! Instead, he chased after Baez, then flipped the ball to catcher Michael Perez to try to get the runner, Contreras, who was sliding across the plate. Craig apparently didn’t know the rule that no run can score in that situation if Baez doesn’t safely achieve first base.

And maybe Perez didn’t know, either. After motioning that Contreras was safe at the plate, only then did Baez run back to first, which he reached safely because second baseman Adam Frazier was late covering the bag. It was a comedy of errors, one of the stupidest plays in baseball history.

Sadly, though, it confused so many players.

“I learned something on that play,” Kris Bryant said. “I didn’t know the rule.”

On Friday, the Phillies were trailing the Nationals 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning. Rhys Hoskins hit a leadoff double. Travis Jankowski pinch ran for him. A 2-2 pitch to J.T. Realmuto was bobbled slightly by Nationals catcher Alex Avila, who never lost control of the ball. With no outs — where was he going on this play? — Jankowski got trapped off second base. Avila ran right at him, and eventually tagged him out for an exceptionally odd catcher-unassisted putout. Avila made a very smart play, but it was assisted by terrible baserunning by Jankowski. The Phillies lost the game 2-1.

And then, on Tuesday, in the first inning against the Dodgers, the Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a line drive down the right-field line for a home run. Hayes wasn’t sure if it was going out, so he ran as hard as he could to first. In his haste, he missed touching first base. The Dodgers appealed and Hayes was called out. So, instead of a home run, he was credited in the play-by-play with a flyout to the pitcher.

“Obviously, Ke’ got caught watching the ball,” said Pirates manager Derek Shelton.

Obviously.

Baserunners have a lot to learn, about rules, about cutting a bag, about anticipating. They are so athletic and so fast, they should run the bases better than in any other era in history. Still, it’s fair to say that we don’t have nearly as many great baserunners as we used to. We have few who can compare to Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Molitor, Robin Yount, Cal Ripken Jr., Rickey Henderson, Don Baylor, Phil Bradley, Larry Walker, Don Mattingly and Scott Rolen.

“Baserunning is an art and it is a skill,” Van Slyke said. “It takes time and emphasis to make it important. But it’s not important today because no one cares about baserunning.”


Why run when you can jog?

Partial blame for bad baserunning goes where partial blame always goes, fairly or unfairly, these days — analytics.

“It’s the three outcomes: walks, strikeouts and home runs,” Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer said. “Guys don’t get on base as much. They’re not used to running the bases. And they don’t think it’s important. But it is. They figure they can make up for it with home runs.”

The numbers support it. In 1980, there were more stolen bases per game than home runs per game, 1.56 to 1.47. There were .51 triples per game. By 2000, things had changed dramatically. There were 2.34 home runs per game, 1.2 steals per game and .39 triples per game.

In 2020, they had changed drastically again: 2.57 homers per game, .99 steals per game and .27 triples per game, the lowest rate in any season in history. So, 40 years ago, there were more steals than homers per game. Now there are nearly three times as many homers as steals per game. And even though stolen bases are only a small part of baserunning, it shows how much the game has become about power and slugging rather than running.

“We walk back to the dugout [a strikeout] today and circle the bases [a home run] more than we ever have,” Van Slyke said. “The emphasis on exit velocity and launch angle has eliminated the nuances of the game. They have blown up the equation on baserunning.”

Molitor is quick to identify one of the issues.

“We have all these formulas to score runs,” he said. “But there’s an art to scoring runs. And part of that art is being able to know where you can get 90 feet whether it’s a passed ball, a ball in the dirt, a missed relay. If you leave 90 feet out there too often, it is going to hinder your chances to win games. We have rethought, probably to a fault, the value of an out, and where those outs should come from. If you are losing too many outs to calculated risks on the bases, it’s going to cost you. The amount of singles has dwindled. Do you have as good a chance of scoring today from first as you do from second? In some ways…”

In some ways, yes. And that’s a problem.

And what about getting the extra base?

“One of the most important things in baseball is going first to third on a base hit, knowing when to go,” Bradley said. “It goes back to the Branch Rickey theory: The best baserunners go two bases at a time. If you’re on first, you should be thinking about going first to third. Now, if you’re on first, you’re waiting to see if the guy is going to hit a homer. Then you can jog.”

It’s about perception, too.

“Baserunning is not cool [to today’s players],” Showalter said. “They think, ‘Who cares? No one steals bases anymore. You hit a homer, I trot home. You hit a single, I trot 90 feet.'”

There is too much jogging and too much trotting in today’s game.

“Good baserunning is only about effort. It’s a pet peeve of mine,” Bryant said. “When you don’t run hard to beat out a double-play grounder, that doesn’t look good. It is so easy to run as hard as you can for four seconds at a time. My dad always reminded me that baseball is hard, you get frustrated when you make an out, so you take out your aggression by running as hard as you can. I have embraced that. I ground out to shortstop, I am so mad, I run as hard as I can to first base. Now we have fans back watching us play. You don’t want to dog it to first base on a double play, someone bobbles a ball, and they still get the double play. You beat out the double play, and it might be a big run in the game.”

Bryant was taught well. But we have stopped teaching players the intricacies of baserunning.

“[Some players] look at you like you have two heads when you talk about baserunning,” said Showalter. “My last year [2018, as the manager] in Baltimore, we had a young player. We were talking about a delayed steal. He had no idea what I was talking about.”

Our coaches and instructors today are different. Many of them didn’t play in the big leagues. Some didn’t play professionally. Some didn’t play collegiately. Some didn’t play at all.

“It needs to be taught,” Baker said, “but the guys who can teach it aren’t in the game anymore … Vince Coleman, guys like that.”

No one taught the game, especially baserunning, better than the late George Kissell. He was a player, manager, coach, scout, instructor and mentor for the Cardinals for 59 years.

“I never talk about my career — never — but I was a great baserunner because I cared,” Van Slyke said. “George Kissell taught me to care about baserunning. He would tell me over and over again: 90 feet really matters, 90 feet is imperative in his game — 90 feet, 90 feet, 90 feet.”

Showalter is a great teacher of baserunning.

“We were taught to hit the bag with your left foot, to cross over with your right,” he said. “Now, these guys hit the bag with the wrong foot. Hit it with your left foot, it’s worth half a step. Players today have no idea what you’re talking about. We used to have a guy who stood at first base, and if you hit the bag with the wrong foot, he would whack you with a fungo.”

Nobody today, Van Slyke said, thinks ahead.

“You have to think about the next base first,” he said. “But players today are not thinking about two and three bases ahead. They don’t anticipate. They don’t ask, ‘What do I do if it’s hit softly? What do I do if it’s hit hard? Does the outfielder have a good arm or a bad arm?’ These are the questions, the nuances, that have to be asked before the ball is pitched. But today’s player waits until the ball is hit, then he decides. Too many of our players are thinking after the ball is hit, ‘How am I going to celebrate when I get to third base?'”

Another huge change in the game is the leadership, the counsel provided from veteran players.

“When I was a young player with the Yankees, Don Baylor was on our team. He was a great baserunner,” Bradley said. “If there was a ball where maybe he thought you could go first-to-third, or made a double on, when you got back to the dugout, he would let you know. He’d say, ‘What were you looking at? Did you see where that guy was playing you?'”

Being a great baserunner is about instincts and feel and anticipation.

“Speed is important, but it is not a prerequisite,” Molitor said.

Rolen ran pretty well, but he was a great baserunner. Mattingly ran pretty well, but he was an exceptional baserunner. The worry in the game is if a player doesn’t have instincts on the bases at age 27, will he ever have them?

“I think you are past the chance of having a great influence,” Molitor said. “There is an innateness to it. I think with a guy who is 27, you can eliminate poor decisions. But you might not be able to create a good decision.”

The way home

There is a way out of this.

There is a way to fix this.

It’s going to take time.

“It has to start at the youth level,” Bradley said. “When I was a kid, we played a game called ‘Running Bases.’ ‘Pickle.’ Those are baserunning games. I don’t even know if they exist anymore. Kids are getting better these days with all the coaching they get. And that’s great. But it’s all about them improving their swing. It’s about their private pitching coaches.”

Molitor called it “Hot Box.”

“That used to kill a couple hours every day playing a little Hot Box,” he said. “I didn’t want to get in a rundown in the big leagues, but when I did, it gave me flashbacks to the playground. If you can get out of a big league hot box, that was a pretty good accomplishment.”

Kudos to all of our Little League coaches teaching kids to play the game, but. ..

“Our kids on the Little League level, even through high school, are literally told when to run, when to stop. They are never left on their own to trust their own instincts, to know when a ball might drop,” Bradley said. “It’s like, ‘I’m not going to run unless the first-base coach tells me to go.’ If you are waiting for the coach to tell you, it’s too late. I’ve talked to coaches. We need to trust our kids to make decisions on their own. Find ways in practice. Don’t have base coaches in practice. And tell the kids why you don’t have base coaches in practice. Play situations where the players can figure it out on their own.”

It starts with education. But the focus of the education is a big part of the problem.

“When I taught it, and when I coached and managed at the major league level, I encouraged players that making your own decisions is critical to being a good baserunner,” Molitor said. “I do have to rely on the coach when the ball is behind me, but what drives me crazy if when you’re on first base with one out, you should be thinking first-to-third anyway. Say there’s a ground ball up the middle to the center fielder. You should know where he’s playing, you should know how he throws, but as the runner approaches second base, even with the play right in front of him, he looks over at the third-base coach.”

Willie Mays didn’t need a coach. Neither did Jackie Robinson. Neither did Molitor.

“I had the freedom throughout college, the minor leagues and even when I got to the big leagues — I had the green light right out of chute as a 21-year-old player,” he said. “You earn that trust. Look at all the great baserunners, you won’t find one who wasn’t an independent thinker. It’s like a basketball player with great court vision, or Gretzky behind the net. There are some people who are just going to see the whole field. It’s a beautiful thing when it happens.”

Bryant earned that trust soon after arriving in the big leagues in 2016.

“I learned to run the bases in high school, but it was mostly watching, doing baserunning drills,” he said. “But when I got to college, we really got into the ins and outs. My coaches at the University of San Diego really helped us develop our IQ on baserunning.”

After we reteach our Little Leaguers how to run the bases, the next step is to work with high school players. Their goal is to play collegiately, or professionally, and the best way to do that is to attend showcase camps. But there, they emphasize individual skills, especially power for a hitter and velocity for a pitcher. They don’t specialize in teaching baserunning.

“If they aren’t testing it,” Showalter asked, “do they care?”

It is time to care about running.

MLB is so concerned about baserunning, or lack thereof, it is experimenting with several rule changes at different levels of minor league baseball. At Triple-A, the base size has been increased from 15-by-15 inches to 18-by-18 inches. The thinking is, the shorter distance between bases could mean a higher rate of success on stolen bases as well as lead to more infield hits and bunt attempts.

In high-A leagues, a rule that was used in the Atlantic League in 2019 will be adopted: Pitchers will be required to completely disengage from the rubber before throwing to any base. Using that rule, the Atlantic League saw a significant increase in stolen bases.

In low-A leagues, pitchers will be limited to two step-offs or pickoff attempts during any plate appearance — a third pickoff attempt will be ruled a balk unless it results in a successful pickoff. By reducing step-off and pickoff attempts, in theory, players might have a greater chance to steal a base.

“I think there are a lot of people who are starting to understand that there are ways to make the game more aesthetically enjoyable,” Molitor said. “A return to prioritizing baserunning is starting to be rekindled, it makes me very happy. I think a return to that will make our game more appealing.”

It is up to the industry to make it happen, to lessen the value of the home run and increase the value of baserunning. Pay for good baserunning. Penalize for bad baserunning.

“The stolen base has become so obsolete,” one National League coach said. “Teams aren’t trying to stop the running game like they used to. They don’t even care if you run.”

Molitor lamented that runners, especially when in a rundown, no longer practice trying to draw an obstruction call. Yet on May 30, the Diamondbacks’ Tim Locastro, stuck in a rundown, tried to draw an obstruction call. It didn’t work — he was called out — but at least he tried.

We are bunting more often. Slowly. It is happening with old-school managers such as Baker, the Indians’ Tito Francona and the Angels’ Joe Maddon. On May 29, Baker had his rookie catcher, Garrett Stubbs, bunt twice in one game. One was a squeeze play, perfectly executed. It was the 11th RBI bunt of this season. That’s not very many. But it provides hope for the future.

Van Slyke was the first-base coach that day when the young player, with two outs, peeled off into right field instead of running to second. Van Slyke has hope for the future of baserunning.

“Remember,” he said, “that was a major league game, not a high school game. But if MLB really cares about the product on the field, we need to get the players’ association in on this, we need to bring the instincts back to the game of baseball. The only way this will turn — if things are done incorrectly so many times, you finally correct it.”

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One of the organizers of this week’s Tight End University said Tim Tebow did not get an invitation to participate because of a higher-than-expected response and there wasn’t enough room.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle — who along with the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and former player Greg Olsen are conducting TEU — said on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday that he eventually hopes to open the event to every tight end in the NFL but couldn’t justify inviting Tebow over more experienced players.

“If I can’t invite every tight end how do I not invite a second- or third-string guy on a team that’s been playing tight end since he was 18 years old in high school?” Kittle said. “Nothing against Tim Tebow. I hope that he has incredible success this year. I hope he has 10 touchdowns. I hope he has a great year but it’s hard for me to invite someone to this that just started playing the position when I can’t invite a guy that’s been playing it for 8-10 years. That’s just hard for me.”

Tebow is attempting an NFL comeback at tight end after not playing in an NFL game since 2012 and not appearing in a training camp since 2015. Tebow was a quarterback then — he was the 25th overall pick by Denver in 2010 — but called up Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer and asked his former coach at Florida for a tryout at tight end.

Tebow worked out twice and the Jaguars signed him on May 20.

Kittle said he was surprised at the amount of interest TEU received from players around the league. The event will be held Wednesday through Friday in Nashville.

“I want everyone to come because I want everyone to learn, everyone to get better,” Kittle said. “But we didn’t really plan that every single tight end would want to come. We thought we were going to get like 20, 25 guys max and the next thing we knew we were at 45-50. Ran out of hotel rooms. Kind of ran out of space just in general.

“Hopefully in the next coming years I can make it available to every single person and then any tight end that wants to come can show up, learn, get better and just take another step forward.”

ESPN News

Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market to Witness Huge Growth | Major Giants Cisco Systems, Intel, Kaspersky Lab

HTF MI added a new research study on Global Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market in its repository, aims to offers a detailed overview of the factors influencing the worldwide business orientation and overall outlook. Study highlights recent market insights with disrupted trends and breakdown of Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market products and offering along with impact due to macro-economic headwinds and matured western countries slowdown. Quantitative statistics with qualitative reasoning are evaluated on Internet of Things (IoT) Security market size, share, growth and trending influencing factors with Pre and Post 2020 Impact on Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market leaders and emerging players. Some of the players that are included as part of study are Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, IBM Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Trend Micro, Digicert, Infineon Technologies, ARM Holdings, Gemalto NV, Kaspersky Lab, CheckPoint Software Technologies, Sophos Plc, Advantech, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Trustwave & INSIDE Secure SA.

If you are involved in the Internet of Things (IoT) Security product offering or planning to enter, then this study will provide you comprehensive outlook and consequential analysis of Internet of Things (IoT) Security companies and trending segments.

The Global Internet of Things (IoT) Security research study is segmented by Types [, Network Security & Endpoint Security] as well as by Applications [Building and Home Automation, Supply Chain Management, Patient Information Management, Energy and Utilities Management, Customer Information Security & Others] with historical and future market size & % share along with the growth rate. Important geographical regions like Americas, United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, APAC, China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, India, Australia, Europe, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Russia, Middle East & Africa, Egypt, South Africa, Israel, Turkey & GCC Countries and leading players such as Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, IBM Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Trend Micro, Digicert, Infineon Technologies, ARM Holdings, Gemalto NV, Kaspersky Lab, CheckPoint Software Technologies, Sophos Plc, Advantech, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Trustwave & INSIDE Secure SA are included. The report gives a clear idea about the growth factors, reasons for upliftment / deterioration of Internet of Things (IoT) Security players in recent years and different opportunities and strategies to expand market.

To analyse different players of interest matching your business objectives from Internet of Things (IoT) Security industry by geography or specific country; share customized requirement now.

Strategic Points Covered in Global Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market Table of Content

Chapter 1: Introduction, the basic information of the Global Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market & product overview
Chapter 2: Objective of Study and Research Scope of the Internet of Things (IoT) Security market
Chapter 3: Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market Dynamics- driving growth factors, disruptive forces, Trends and Challenges & Opportunities
Chapter 4: Market Factor Analysis, Internet of Things (IoT) Security Value Chain, PESTEL & PORTER Model, Market Entropy, Patent/Trademark Analysis
Chapter 5: Player Analysis; Competitive Landscape, Peer Group Analysis of Internet of Things (IoT) Security, Strategic Group Analysis, Perpetual Mapping, BCG Matrix & Company Profiling
Chapter 6: Displaying Market Revenue Size by Type, application /vertical or end users, other Segments (2016-2026)
Chapter 7: To evaluate the market by countries further broken down by countries (2016-2026)
Chapter 8: Research Methodology
Chapter 9: Data Source
…….

Major Highlights of Internet of Things (IoT) Security Competitive Landscape

The company profile section of Internet of Things (IoT) Security study analyses the company’s operational structure, major products and services offering, geographic footprints and subsidiaries, key management executives and their biographies along with major and closest peer competitors.
Understand and respond to Global Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market competitors; business strategies, and capitalize on strength and weakness with SWOT analysis.
Latest developments of Internet of Things (IoT) Security players and track findings and outcome following development.
Potential investments and merger & acquisition targets set by giants in Internet of Things (IoT) Security Industry, with detailed insight into the company’s strategic & top-line and bottom-line performance.
Highlighting key financial ratio and metrics of public and private companies of Internet of Things (IoT) Security that include the revenue trends, growth margins, liquidity and leverage and efficiency ratios.
To add value to product and services; Internet of Things (IoT) Security research comprises of valuable measures showing distinguishable traits/features that influence end user’s behaviour and demand metrics.

Thanks for reading Internet of Things (IoT) Security Industry Research Publication; you can also get individual country or region wise report version like LATAM, NORDIC, North America, Eastern Europe, USA, Europe or Asia Pacific.

Contact US:
Craig Francis
HTF Market Intelligence Consulting Private Limited
A5010, Marvel Edge, Viman Nagar,
Maharastra, India

About Author:
HTF Market Report is a wholly owned brand of HTF market Intelligence Consulting Private Limited. HTF Market Report global research and market intelligence consulting organization is uniquely positioned to not only identify growth opportunities but to also empower and inspire you to create visionary growth strategies for futures, enabled by our extraordinary depth and breadth of thought leadership, research, tools, events and experience that assist you for making goals into a reality. Our understanding of the interplay between industry convergence, Mega Trends, technologies and market trends provides our clients with new business models and expansion opportunities. We are focused on identifying the “Accurate Forecast” in every industry we cover so our clients can reap the benefits of being early market entrants and can accomplish their “Goals & Objectives”.

One fighter’s incredible year — Surprise wedding, brain surgery and MMA return

Editor’s note: This story was originally published ahead of Vince Murdock’s appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series. Murdock is now part of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter.

KIRA MURDOCK STEPPED out of an elevator on the top floor of The Bank food hall in Sacramento, California. Wearing a flowing, white gown and veil, Murdock was expecting to meet her husband, Vince Murdock, to take wedding photos in the venue’s rooftop garden under a sunlit sky. It was Nov. 2, 2019.

The Murdocks had eloped in July and were hoping to have a public ceremony in the fall. But in September, Vince, a pro mixed martial arts fighter, was diagnosed with a serious brain disease called moyamoya that required surgery. So, 11 days before Vince’s operation in November, the couple scheduled a shoot with two photographers.

“Before his surgery, I wanted to have photos of us in my wedding gown and his tux,” Kira said. “We wanted to have that memory in case something did happen to him — God forbid he died or he was paralyzed or something that would go on [for] years. I was like, ‘I want to have that memory if I’m not able to have a wedding.'”

When Kira got off the elevator, she immediately saw her father and was confused. She walked ahead to the garden, and there were all her friends. At the front of an aisle was Vince. He had lured Kira to their surprise wedding ceremony, a grand gesture before Vince’s life potentially changed forever.

“I was just uncertain about what was to come,” Vince said. “I didn’t know anything. Who knows what I was gonna be like? I didn’t know.”

The Murdocks recited their vows that day, a joyous occasion with the next few weeks and months still shrouded in uncertainty. Vince, meanwhile, also had another vow on his mind: He promised himself that not only would he return to MMA but he would fight again within one year of brain surgery.

On Wednesday, Vince will make good on that declaration. He’ll fight Luis Saldaña on “Dana White’s Contender Series” in Las Vegas — nine days short of exactly one year since his operation on Nov. 13, 2019. Vince took what is a life-threatening disease as another challenge to overcome. And he is winning.

“If this happened to someone else, I’d be like, ‘Bro, you sure you even want to fight again?'” Vince said. “But in my situation, it’s literally been the foundation of my life for as long as I can remember. It’s gotten me out of every situation I’ve been in, and I’ve relied on it so heavily, which is also scary. Because if it does really disappear, I’ll have a tough time with identity.”

Kira, Vince said, has been his “biggest supporter” throughout what has been a 16-month ordeal — from discovery that something was wrong to diagnosis to surgery to getting cleared by doctors to compete. But even she had her doubts about Vince’s plan to fight again so quickly.

“The last thing I want to think about is him following his dream and losing him, and then he’s gone,” Kira said. “All because he wanted to fight instead of get the rest of his life. At the same time, I can’t imagine him turning down his dream.”

But that day at The Bank, the worries would have to wait.

“I just broke down crying,” Kira said. “Shaking. Music cued. … Honestly, I could not stop saying, ‘What the f— is happening? What the f— is happening?’ How did he pull this off? How is everyone here from my family? This is crazy.”


MURDOCK, 29, WAS scheduled to make his UFC debut in Minneapolis on June 29, 2019, against Jordan Griffin. He procrastinated on his required prefight medical examinations for the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission, not getting a CT scan of his brain until the day before weigh-ins.

Not every state athletic commission requires a brain scan. It was a potentially life-saving happenstance for Murdock that Minnesota does. The exam produced an odd result. The left side of his brain looked almost dormant. The initial thought from doctors was that it was a mistake. Out of an abundance of caution, Murdock was told to go to the hospital and get further tests.

“When they pulled up my scan, basically they can see the blood vessels in your brain,” Murdock said. “They, like, light up, if that makes sense. On the left side of my brain, it just goes until it doesn’t. The whole left side of my brain didn’t light up. Basically, they’re thinking there’s no blood flow.”

Subsequent exams turned up the same results. Something was definitely wrong, though at the time, doctors didn’t know exactly what. There wasn’t too much concern at first. After all, Murdock was a healthy professional athlete, and if his brain had a severe issue, there was no possible way he could train the way he had been. At least, that was the belief at the time.

Murdock, then a seven-year pro fighter, had to withdraw from his UFC debut. It was a devastating development, but he knew he’d be back. UFC chief physician Jeff Davidson advised him to see a brain specialist and to loop in the promotion on what happened next.

“If this happened to someone else, I’d be like, ‘Bro, you sure you even want to fight again?’ But in my situation, it’s literally like been the foundation of my life for as long as I can remember. … If it does really disappear, I’ll have a tough time with identity.”

Vince Murdock

For the next two months, Murdock was sitting in doctors’ offices at least twice a week. The word “moyamoya” had come up during that time, but initially only in the context of him having moyamoya symptoms. Finally, in September 2019, he was diagnosed with moyamoya disease — a rare condition in which blood vessels that supply blood to the brain are too narrow. The entire left side of his brain was not getting the blood it needed to function properly. Murdock needed to have bypass surgery.

Looking back now, Vince and Kira acknowledge that there were signs something wasn’t quite right. But they chalked it up to Vince’s fighting lifestyle, always tired and banged up. Vince said he had always fatigued fast, even when he was younger. Kira said Vince had memory issues for about a year before the moyamoya diagnosis. He often would leave his house keys in the door and leave his car door open without realizing it.

“It was just crazy,” Kira said. “It would just blow my mind. Like, what are you doing? What’s going on? It was kind of weird. It was a little freaky. That’s not a common thing. Maybe one time, but multiple? It became a regular thing.”

Initially, Murdock was going to have brain surgery in Sacramento. But with the help of his mentor, Urijah Faber — the patriarch of MMA’s Team Alpha Male — he found Dr. Gary Steinberg, the chair of neurosurgery at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Steinberg is director of the Stanford Moyamoya Center.

Murdock saw Steinberg for the first time on Oct. 14, 2019. The fighter’s condition, Steinberg told ESPN (with permission from Murdock), was “very serious.” He had actually had a small stroke before his CT scan in Minneapolis. It had happened while Murdock was playing a pickup game of basketball. Tests also showed he had a blockage of a major artery leading to the brain. Murdock was “fortunate” to have gotten the brain scan in Minneapolis when he did, Steinberg said.

“If he had continued fighting with that condition, he could have ended up with a severe stroke — or worse,” Steinberg said.

Bypass surgery on Murdock’s brain was scheduled for Nov. 13, 2019. The days leading up to the surgery were a struggle. Steinberg said Murdock was having daily transient ischemic attacks, or small strokes that last just a few minutes. He was experiencing weakness in his right arm and leg, facial numbness and slurred speech. His right hand couldn’t grip, and his vision was suffering.

The operation happened not a moment too soon. Steinberg was able to take an artery from Murdock’s scalp and sew it to a brain artery to redirect blood flow. As a result, Murdock had three times the amount of blood flow to the left hemisphere of his brain that he had before going under the knife, Steinberg said. The surgery took 11 hours.

Afterward, Murdock experienced issues that typically stem from brain surgery. But nothing doctors were worried about. He had a hard time talking for a few days, and writing was even worse.

“I would write sentences and f—, it would just look like a f—ing first-grader was putting together words,” Murdock said. ” … It was like I would just skip words. I would just skip s—, and I’d put together a jagged sentence. But in my mind, it seemed right.”

Murdock was steadfast, though. With every setback, he saw it as just another obstacle he had to overcome. He was always confident that not only would he recover but he would be able to fight again within one year. At times, he admits, he overdid it. He left the hospital one day after waking up from surgery and was working out within a week. Murdock didn’t use any of the medication given to him, which led to intense pain and vision loss. He ended up back in the emergency room.

“No one can control him or hold him down,” Kira said. “If he wants to do something, he’s gonna do it.”

About three months after surgery, Murdock was sparring again. He wanted to help teammates Cody Garbrandt and Song Yadong prepare for their upcoming fights. In sparring one day, Garbrandt, a former UFC bantamweight champion and one of the hardest hitters in that division, nailed Murdock with a right hand to the part of his skull that had been cut open during surgery.

“Like a f—ing bullet,” Murdock said. “I know he didn’t mean to hit me there or anything. … In the moment, I thought about it. But afterwards, I was like, ‘F—, man, I guess I’m fine.'”

Murdock saw Steinberg on May 28, 2020, for his six-month check-in after surgery. With no symptoms lingering, not even that fatigue that had hampered him for years, Murdock was cleared to once again compete in MMA. Steinberg said Murdock is healthier now than he was 16 months ago when he was set to make his UFC debut.

“Is it safe for anyone to participate in martial arts or football or boxing?” Steinberg said. “But I think it’s as safe for him as it is for any other martial arts athlete.”

Steinberg said Murdock is the first professional athlete on whom he has performed moyamoya surgery. “I have such admiration for him for what he has accomplished in the last year since surgery,” Steinberg said. “It’s a real testament to his fortitude, determination, drive and strength that he’s able to do this. … It’s remarkable.”


THOUGH STEINBERG CLEARED Murdock six months ago, getting the UFC and the Nevada State Athletic Commission to approve Murdock was a longer process. He got the OK only last month, and the bout with Saldaña was made official about two weeks ago.

Like everything else that has come with moyamoya, Murdock took the lengthy process in stride. Just another challenge en route to his goal.

“What could you possibly f—ing do to me that I can’t [overcome]?” he said. “I’ve been punched, I’ve been knocked down, but have you tried brain surgery? I didn’t feel bad for myself, not one time. I didn’t cry a single time. Not one time did I throw a pity party.”

If anything, this entire experience has steeled Murdock’s mindset. Before the moyamoya diagnosis, he said, he was going through the motions in his career. There was one point at which he wouldn’t even say the letters “UFC” because he didn’t think he deserved to be in the sport’s leading promotion. Even though it felt as if he was all-in on his MMA career at the time, he realizes now that he was not.

“It’s so weird saying that,” Vince said. “I was so naive in my approach before. I was so uncommitted. But if you would have asked me then, I would have been like, ‘I train every day,’ blah blah blah. You know what I mean? And I did do all those things, but my mind wasn’t in the right spot. Maybe that’s because I only had half of it. But it really was an awakening experience for me. I dedicated everything to this. I wanted to be back.”

Murdock probably could have held out a few more months and gone right into the UFC. But it’s tough to get a fight these days during a global pandemic. So when he was offered the “Contender Series,” he jumped at the chance. He had vowed to fight within one year of surgery, and he will be fulfilling that.

“I am just fortunate enough that they picked me again,” Murdock said. “The reality is they don’t have to use me. They could easily be like, ‘Bro, you had brain surgery. Get the f— out of here.'”

Getting his career back on track is just part of Murdock’s battle. The visits with Steinberg, the surgery and the treatment afterward were not covered by insurance. Surgery alone ended up costing $280,000, Murdock said. Though Murdock was hesitant, Faber persuaded him to start a GoFundMe that ended up raising more than $36,000. Team Alpha Male has also run several fundraisers. Murdock also does private training sessions and seminars to earn money to put toward his medical payment plan.

Faber also helped Vince organize the surprise wedding for him and Kira. The UFC Hall of Famer will be in Murdock’s corner Wednesday. Kira, meanwhile, will be racing to a friend’s home after work to watch her husband on TV.

“Even now, it’s still terrifying to me,” Kira said. “I’m just gonna be a crying mess. It’s the person you love in there getting hit in the face. Even add [brain surgery] on. … But I can’t stop him from his dream.”



ESPN News

Daryl Morey says 25 or 26 teams would love to be in Philadelphia 76ers’ situation

Less than two days after his Philadelphia 76ers were bounced out of the playoffs by losing Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Atlanta Hawks on their home court, team president Daryl Morey was emphatic in his belief that the level of negativity that surrounds the franchise at the moment doesn’t match reality.

“A lot of what I’m reading I frankly don’t understand,” Morey said in a virtual end-of-season press conference Tuesday afternoon. “People [are] saying the Sixers are in a bad situation.

“I don’t choose to come here, [coach Doc Rivers] doesn’t choose to come here if this is a bad situation. I mean, really 25 or 26 teams in this league would love to be in our situation with an MVP caliber top player and All-Star, near All-Star, great young players who are signed for the long term, good veterans.

“So, we’ve got a good foundation. We just have to do better, I have to do better, everyone has to do better.”

In the wake of Philadelphia’s season ending in such disastrous fashion, the person who has received the most blowback for their performance is star guard Ben Simmons, who was non-existent offensively in the fourth quarter throughout the series, and scored a combined 19 points in Games 5, 6 and 7 as Philadelphia’s season came to a surprising end.

Not surprisingly, that led to Morey being asked — on several occasions — to commit to Simmons being on the roster next season. And, not surprisingly, Morey went out of his way to avoid making any sort of definitive statement either way about the long-term future of Simmons or anyone else currently on Philadelphia’s roster.

“We have a very strong group we believe in,” Morey said. “None of us can predict the future of what’s going to happen in any, in any place. We love what Ben brings, we love what Joel [Embiid] brings we love what Tobias [Harris] brings in terms of what’s next we’re gonna do what’s best for the 76ers to give us the best chance to win the championship with every single player on the roster.”

He did, however, say at one point that, “I think it’s pretty straightforward what certain players need to improve,” which isn’t far off from Rivers saying Monday that Simmons simply has to improve as a foul shooter after dropping to a dismal 34.7 percent from the foul line in the postseason.

But Morey also went in depth about the team’s offensive issues overall, saying the Sixers have to get better at that end of the court before going back over some of what caused Philadelphia to drop that Game 7 on its home court — a result Morey himself admitted he still was processing.

“We need to be a better offensive team,” Morey said. “I mean we’re two days after … you can tell it’s a little raw, still. “I think if you replay that Game 7 a bunch of times and, you know, we execute better, then we win. But look, reality is reality. We didn’t do it and, and frankly if we’re squeaking by the second round that just tells me we’re not, we’re unfortunately not good enough, probably to win the title so we need to get better.

“But, you know, the game, that series, is still incredibly painful.”

Morey also gave a lot of credit to Embiid for the way he pushed through the second round with a small tear in his lateral meniscus. Embiid averaged 30.4 points and 12.7 rebounds against Atlanta despite the injury. Morey said Embiid was getting a full medical review by Philadelphia’s doctors, and that any decision made about his health, and whether he’d require surgery, would be made after that.

“Yeah, I mean, I think we’re all super impressed with what Joel was able to do,” Morey said. “I mean he’s the, you know, sort of the heart and soul of the team and what he did every night for us will forever be appreciated.

“In terms of like what’s next, I know they’re going through a full assessment of him right now the medical staff along with Joel and his and his very good team of advisors and the next step will be determined from that.”

ESPN News

Khris Middleton, Kevin Love commit to Team USA; two spots remain on roster

Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love have committed to joining Team USA’s 12-man roster for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Excel Basketball agent Mike Lindeman told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Middleton will be making his first Olympic appearance after playing for Team USA in the Basketball World Cup in 2019, while Love will be in his second Olympics after winning gold at the 2012 London Games.

Their commitments would leave two spots left on the 12-man Olympic roster, as 10 players — the others are Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Brooklyn’s James Harden and Kevin Durant, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Portland’s Damian Lillard — have already pledged to play, according to ESPN and multiple reports.

Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell are among those who have recently declined invitations. Curry cited offseason commitments, according to The Associated Press, while Mitchell will use the time to recover and rehab from his right ankle injury, sources told Wojnarowski.

The LA Clippers’ Paul George and, if healthy, Kawhi Leonard have given some indication to USA Basketball in recent weeks that they would like to play on the Olympic team, though it remains unknown whether they have made a final decision.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ESPN News

Barcelona’s Dembele out for months, requires knee surgery

Ousmane Dembele is set for several months on the sidelines after Barcelona confirmed he requires surgery on a knee injury sustained at Euro 2020.

Sources have told ESPN the France international will be out for between three and five months, although Barca have not given any recovery timeframe.

– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

Dembele, 24, left the France camp on Monday after getting injured in the final stages of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Hungary in Budapest.

“Following tests, it’s been confirmed he has a dislocation of the biceps tendon in his right knee that will require surgical treatment,” Barca said in a short statement on Tuesday.

Dembele has had poor luck with injuries since signing for Barca from Borussia Dortmund for an initial fee of €105 million in 2017.

A hamstring injury ruled him for four months in his first season at the club, while further muscle problems restricted him to just nine appearances in all competitions in 2019-20.

However, the forward remained injury-free last season, playing 44 times and scoring 11 goals under Ronald Koeman.

His performances for Barca earned him a recall to the France squad recently and he came off the bench in both his country’s games at Euro 2020 so far, against Germany and Hungary.

This latest setback comes at a time when his long-term future at Barca is unknown.

Dembele’s contract expires in 2022 and sources have told ESPN Barca would have been open to offers for him this summer if he didn’t sign an extension.

Barca risk losing him for free next year if he doesn’t sign a new deal but there’s unlikely to be any interest now until his knee is fully healed.

ESPN

Ex-Creighton Bluejays men’s basketball assistant Preston Murphy gets show-cause penalty, program put on two years’ probation

Former Creighton assistant coach Preston Murphy was hit with a two-year show-cause penalty for accepting improper payments, a Level I-aggravated violation, uncovered during the FBI investigation that rocked college basketball, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions announced on Tuesday.

During the bribery investigation that led to the arrests of four Division I assistant coaches, a federal indictment in March 2019 accused Murphy of accepting a $6,000 payment from an undercover FBI agent during a meeting with Christian Dawkins, his friend and one of the people at the center of the FBI’s investigation, during a July 2017 meeting in a Las Vegas hotel room, agreeing to steer players to Dawkins’ management company. Murphy resigned in November 2019.

Murphy’s lawyers had argued that he returned the money after the meeting.

Per the committee, Murphy lied when he was asked in his school’s internal questionnaire if he’d accepted any payments from an agent or financial adviser or accepted “anything of value” to steer players to an adviser or agent. Murphy checked “no” twice. But he later informed head coach Greg McDermott about the meeting and McDermott then told athletic director Bruce Rasmussen. Per the committee, Rasmussen investigated the incident without informing his compliance department. After Murphy told Rasmussen he had returned the money following the meeting, Rasmussen decided against acting on the information until the arrival of the federal indictment that named the former assistant coach two years ago.

“The violations largely stem from individuals permitting personal relationships to cloud their judgment and influence their decision-making,” the committee said. “Specifically, the assistant coach prioritized loyalty to his friend, the agent associate; and the athletics director looked past alarming conduct based on his trust in the assistant coach.”

While the two-year show cause for Murphy represents the most severe penalty, the school was also hit with a variety of other penalties, including a 1% reduction in the men’s basketball budget and two years of probation. Some of the penalties, such as the loss of one scholarship for the next two years, were self-imposed by the school.

Rasmussen incurred a “Level II-mitigated” penalty for his handling of the investigation.

Creighton is just the latest school to be served with penalties from the NCAA stemming from allegations first laid out in a federal criminal case that resulted in the convictions of 10 men, including four former assistant basketball coaches.

Murphy wasn’t among the coaches facing federal charges, but his relationship with defendant Dawkins, an aspiring sports agent, played a role in the April 2019 trial involving Dawkins and former Adidas consultant Merl Code. Prosecutors played video of Murphy accepting a $6,000 payment from an undercover FBI agent in a Las Vegas hotel room in a meeting to which Dawkins invited him in July 2017.

Government witness and former financial advisor Marty Blazer — who participated in the FBI investigation — testified that Murphy was one of the coaches that Dawkins was going to pay to gain influence with top players. During the meeting at a posh Las Vegas hotel room, Murphy talked about how he could deliver a top NBA prospect by the name of Marcus Phillips, who was not a real player.

When Murphy resigned two years ago “to pursue other opportunities in basketball,” McDermott released a statement that called him “an excellent coach” and “invaluable member of my staff.”

Tuesday’s decision extends a controversial year for Creighton men’s basketball.

McDermott was suspended by the school in March after telling players to “stay on the plantation” after a loss. He was reinstated in time to coach in the Big East tournament.

ESPN News

College World Series 2021 – Mississippi State hopes strikeout records lead to NCAA title

OMAHA, Neb. — Shortly after Mississippi State’s Game 4 win over Texas on Sunday night, the team bus drove a half-mile from TD Ameritrade Park to the Hilton Omaha. When the Bulldogs arrived, there were hundreds of maroon-wearing, cowbell-ringing, #HailState hashtagging fans waiting to greet their conquering winners’ bracket heroes. They really wanted to see one hero in particular.

“BEDNAR! BEEEDDNARRRR!”

“Man, that lobby, that was crazy,” said he who was being yelled at, Mississippi State righty Will Bednar. “I have been playing baseball my whole life. I play at The Dude [State’s uber-rowdy ballpark]. My brother plays in the big leagues [Pittsburgh Pirates reliever David Bednar]. But I have never seen anything like that in that hotel lobby on Sunday night.”

No one at any College World Series game had seen anything like what Bednar had just done in 25 years. Over six innings, he faced 21 Longhorns and struck out 15, the most by a CWS pitcher since Clemson’s Kris Benson also had 15 against Miami in 1996. He was relieved by closer Landon Sims, who struck out six in three innings’ work. Their 21 K’s broke a team CWS single-game record set by Ohio State in 1968.

With every punchout, Bednar, Sims and Mississippi moved another rung up the CWS record book and another rung higher in the national-sports consciousness. To the millions who watch college baseball only during these two weeks in Omaha, the performance was a shocker. To those who follow the game all season, State’s K assembly line was nothing new. It was just a performance spike in a process that has been this incredibly deep staff’s modus operandi.

When the Bulldogs arrived in Omaha, they were already on pace to set the NCAA record for strikeouts per nine innings for a season at 12.4. Now that number is 12.5. Bednar and teammate Christian MacLeod own 128 and 113 K’s, respectively. Sims has 91. All added up, the MSU roster is tied with Ole Miss for the Division I single-season record with 765 strikeouts, but the Bulldogs have as many as six games still to play.

During this still-new baseball age of hyper-focus around pitching spin rates, a lack of focus on small-ball swings at the plate and an overall lack of fundamental sharpness because of the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, strikeouts have skyrocketed throughout college baseball. But even during this era of piled-up K’s (a half-dozen teams are above the pre-2021 K-per-9-inning record), Mississippi State is still way out ahead of everyone else.

“It’s really been like a couple of waves, I suppose is the best way to describe it when I think about why so many strikeouts from these guys this season,” said pitching coach Scott Foxhall, in just his second season in Starkville after stints at NC State, Auburn and College of Charleston.

Thanks to the NCAA’s decision to permit all players an extra year of eligibility, Foxhall found himself entering 2021 with an overstuffed staff, a handful of guys who had made it to Omaha in 2018 and ’19 joined by blue-chip recruits who hadn’t played a full season, such as Bednar.

“The first part of the season,” he said, “we used a lot of different guys, so we never overused anybody, and if you’re a hitter, that’s a lot of different looks from a lot of elite talent used only in short stints. It’s hard to get a hit like that.”

The second wave came in May, when the headliners finally took center stage, just in time for a postseason push.

“The last month you’ve seen a lot of strikeouts because our top guys, starters and relievers both, have been fresh-armed,” he said. “And give credit to [head coach] Chris Lemonis for that. He is a master game manager and a real big-picture guy. When people might’ve been wondering in April, ‘Now, why aren’t they leaving this guy out there on the mound longer?’ Chris had a plan in mind, and he stuck with it.”

The spring was a study in both chemistry and sociology. While Foxhall preached his self-described “Lord’s Prayer broken record” mantra of “command your fastball and throw your off-speed pitches aggressively for strikes,” Lemonis, hitting coach Jake Gautreau and catcher/slugger/captain Logan Tanner kept an eye out for any bruised egos or hurt feelings. The natural rhythm of roster construction was altered by COVID-19, but as stars like Bednar emerged, the reaction from those who would’ve likely been pitching more, or even starting at another school, turned out to be all backing without any backstabbing.

“We have guys on this pitching staff that I think are going to have great careers, a real chance to be major leaguers, and we’ll look back and see that they didn’t really pitch much for us in 2021,” Foxhall said. “No one has sulked. No one has complained. If anything, they have gotten closer. I think I’m most proud of that.”

“When people might’ve been wondering in April, ‘Now, why aren’t they leaving this guy out there on the mound longer?’ Chris [Lemonis, head coach] had a plan in mind, and he stuck with it.”

Pitching coach Scott Foxhall

“At our practice just now, you saw that like I see it all the time,” Tanner said agreeingly on Monday afternoon following a Mississippi State workout at nearby Creighton University. “Our pitchers are always together, no matter where we are, you know, just being weird. Because they’re pitchers.”

Thanks to the rotate-and-rest approach, the weirdos helped lead the Dogs on an 11-3 run to end the regular season. After stumbling 0-2 in the SEC tournament, they’ve posted a record of 6-1 in the NCAAs. Because of the early SEC tourney exit, they arrived in Omaha a bit overshadowed. Despite being a No. 7 national seed, very little of the national pre-CWS pitching buzz was about the boys from Starkville. It was all about the arsenal of All-Big 12 arms from Texas and the one-two pitching punch of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter of a foe that’s very familiar to Mississippi State: SEC rival Vanderbilt.

But Texas lost to State (though it must be noted that UT added 12 K’s of its own) while Rocker struggled in his opening day outing against Arizona. Two days later, Leiter looked great but ultimately took the L from unranked NC State.

In the middle of it all, Bednar rewrote the Omaha pitching headline in six innings. Sims sent that headline to the printer. Now MacLeod will try to add to the story on Tuesday night when the lefty All-American toes the rubber against Virginia. Just don’t try to frame those headlines up as a chip-on-the-shoulder team motivated by national disrespect.

“We don’t really look too deep into that kind of stuff,” Bednar said in reply to a sportswriter’s attempt to do just that. (OK, yes, it was me.) “The buzz is cool and everything, but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t go out and perform, so that’s what I focus on. That’s what we all focus on.”

Maintaining that focus won’t be easy if the Bulldogs keep the strikeouts and wins coming in Omaha. Their buzz will become a full-on roar if they can end the program’s 12th CWS appearance by finally earning the program’s long elusive first College World Series title.

“I can’t even imagine what that will be like,” Bednar said. “And I really can’t imagine what the lobby of our hotel would be like.”

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Euro 2020: Wembley to have crowd of 60,000 for semis and final

Crowd capacity at Wembley Stadium will be increased to more than 60,000 fans for the semifinals and final of Euro 2020, the British government said on Tuesday.

The new levels mean the stadium will be at 75% capacity for the final three games, which conclude with the final on July 11.

Euro 2020: Fixtures and bracket | Standings | Squads | Live on ESPN

All ticket holders will need to have either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination — two doses received 14 days before the fixture.

The announcement came after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called on Monday for the final to be moved from England due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

Wembley’s capacity has been set at 22,500 for the three group and the round of 16 match between Italy and Austria on June 26 but will rise to 40,000 for the other round of 16 match on June 29 which could feature England.

“We are thrilled that more fans will now be able to walk through the Wembley turnstiles and enjoy the finals of Euro 2020,” culture secretary Oliver Dowden said.

“As we continue to make progress on our roadmap out of lockdown, keeping the public safe remains our top priority. We have worked extremely closely with UEFA and the FA to ensure rigorous and tight public health measures are in place whilst allowing more fans to see the action live.”

UEFA has been negotiating with the UK government about relaxing quarantine restrictions on overseas fans travelling to London for games but there was no mention of any change in the statement.

Currently, COVID-19 regulations require visitors from most European countries to quarantine for 10 days after arriving in the UK.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the increased capacity and thanked the UK government for the move.

“This tournament has been a beacon of hope to reassure people that we are returning to a more normal way of life and this is a further step along that road,” he said.

ESPN