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by Bob Nightengale, USA Today 7/31/15

We went into hibernation for the last two decades, not coming close to making the playoffs since realignment in 1994, never winning more than 88 games, and finishing higher than third place only once.  Well, baby, we’re back. 
 


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by Ben Reiter, SI.com 7/30/15
Whatever juice the Yankees might derive from adding a big name by Friday’s deadline would almost certainly not be worth the squeeze—one which would come in the form of the top prospect or two the club would have to sacrifice to acquire him. Say what you want about Brian Cashman’s 18 years as the Yankees' general manager, but one area in which he has undeniably excelled has been in the evaluation of his own prospects.
 
 
 
 

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Home Grown
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from Buffalo News 7/31/15

Brown was a third-round draft choice of the Bills and played six of his seven NFL seasons with Buffalo from 1977-82. His best year with the Bills came in 1978 when he rushed for 591 yards on 128 attempts – the year he took over the backfield after O.J. Simpson was traded to San Francisco.

 
 

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by Sal Capaccio, WGR550.com 7/31/15
Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel, and Tyrod Taylor will all be vying to be the opening day starter and, according to head coach Rex Ryan, each has a legitimate shot to win the job, and will be given every opportunity to do so.
 
 

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Real Needle Movers

by Bill Pucko, BylineSports.com 7/27/15

This isn't an especially good week for ESPN.  They lost their two best needle movers.
 
A needle mover is anyone who makes a real difference.  The term probably refers to a seismograph and its needle-like readings of the intensity of earthquakes on the Richter Scale.  A powerful earthquake moves the needle.  So does powerful opinion. 
 
For better or worse, Donald Trump moves the needle.  So obviously does Barack Obama.  And Bill O'Reilly.  And Janet Yellen.  And so do Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd.  At least they used to.
 
Olbermann and Cowherd each signed off ESPN last week.  Olbermann's late afternoon show was canceled.  Cowherd announced he was leaving the network for a new job at FOX and then got himself fired.  But in terms of honest and creators of original, controversial and challenging thought, they will be sorely missed.
 
Each has been careless.  Olbermann overstepped his bounds in a critical rant against Penn State and got suspended for a week.  Cowherd managed to portray himself as a racist with a rant last week that included an unfortunate slam on the intelligence of Dominican baseball players, while trying to make the point that baseball just isn't that complex.  Neither remark appeared to be meant with the malice that social media pundits and the politically correct police would have you believe, but in such a polarized atmosphere, there was a price to be paid.
 
In Cowherd's case, ESPN took advantage of what turned out to be a perfect storm.  The mid-day talk show host had already accepted an offer from a rival, had returned to the air and graciously praised ESPN and thanked the network for his time there.  His on-air gaffe provided the perfect excuse to take the high road and fire him ("You can't quit, you're fired."), and put the pressure on his new employers to react similarly.  Well played, even if it wasn't totally genuine.
 
Still, while having the intelligence, guts and conviction to tackle issues head-on, in the increasingly complex world that sports has become, where difficult social issue discussions have become the norm, and where the games have begun to look a lot more like real everyday life, Cowherd and Olbermann were real needle movers.  There are precious few of those left in sports broadcasting these days.  And ESPN is far less relevant without them.

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by Ben Leibowitz, Point After 7/31/15
For teams in the hunt, these guys must turn things around soon. It will be time to replace them with a substitute or a fresh face via trade if they fail to do so.
 
 

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by Paige Fowler, Men's Health 7/28/15
You expect a bit of pain while getting a tattoo. But there may be some other unexpected consequences from the ink.
 

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Fantasy
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by Michael Salfino, Yahoo Sports 7/31/15

Jose Quintana should be a hold now. A pitcher who is actually about the same as Quintana in Ks and BBs, Taijuan Walker, should be a buy.  

 

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by Tim Heaney, USA Today 7/30/15
Drew Storen did nothing to deserve losing his gig, but Paps’ battle-tested reputation won out here. Storen owners must now find another avenue for closures.
 

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