New app designed for sports fans on Twitter

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New app designed for sports fans on Twitter

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- When Philip Sanford goes to his favorite bar to watch his beloved Seton Hall Pirates, he brings along his phone charger so he also can follow the game on Twitter. Heather Carleton looks to the social media website for clarification when there's a disputed call involving the San Francisco 49ers. David Foreman likes to communicate with West Virginia fans across the country. More and more these days, when the game is on, so is the computer. Or tablet. Or cellphone. Sports fans around the world are following along on Twitter while they watch their favorite teams in person or on TV, and a new application from a San Francisco startup is designed to make that experience even easier for them. "Since I can't really listen to it since I'm at a sports bar, I like to read about what's going on from a journalistic point of view," said the 29-year-old Sanford, who lives in Charlotte, N.C. "I can learn about what's going from several different sources." There are signs all over that sports fans are using Twitter even while the game is going on in front of them. Sporting events are responsible for the majority of the top moments measured in tweets per second. The Champions League match between Barcelona and Chelsea on April 24 peaked at 13,684 tweets per second, second only to the 2011 showing of a movie in Japan. According to a study by the Perform sports media group, 26 percent of U.S. fans use social media platforms to follow their favorite sports, up from 15 percent in a similar survey in 2011. One-third of those fans say they use Twitter to follow sports, trailing Facebook (89 percent) and YouTube (65) -- based on 1,002 online interviews of adults conducted during February and March. Colleges and professional sports are paying attention to those numbers. Sunday's Pocono 400 Presented by (hash)NASCAR marked Twitter's first official partnership with a sports league. There are all sorts of official hashtags that allow fans to zero in on everything being said about their hometown teams at key moments. "It's really interesting to get more perspective on the game or whatever, whether it's golf or football, because I get to learn more about the players maybe the announcers aren't talking about," Carleton said. "So I think it's becoming more of a tool or resource than the social media part." Carleton, 34, a stay at home mom in Portland, Ore., goes to Mike Pereira whenever there is a questionable ruling in a 49ers game. Pereira was NFL vice president of officiating from 2001-09 and will weigh in on some controversial whistles on Twitter. "It's kind of nice to have that third party to see if you're being biased or not and then you feel vindicated if he says you're right," she said. Foreman, 40, of Lewisburg, Pa., likes the community aspect found on Twitter during sporting events. "I'm sort of an expatriate so a lot of time as I'm watching the Pirates game I am communicating with people in California and other far-flung locations, especially watching WVU," said Foreman, who works in development at Bucknell University. Will Hunsinger knows exactly what Foreman is talking about. Hunsinger, 42, is a proud Georgetown alum and avid follower of the men's basketball team. He was watching a game with his wife last year while communicating with a friend from Switzerland over Facebook and receiving text messages from his father when he came up with an idea. "I was like God, if I could just have this in my hand, where I was watching the game and do all this and see what people were talking about on Twitter ... it would make the game even more fun because now I'm connected with all the people I care about being connected with while I'm in the moment,'" he said. That was the beginning of SportStream, a free application for the iPad that was just approved by Apple and is expected to go live on Thursday. The new program offers curated Twitter feeds for major games that focus on posts from the most popular users based on an evolving credibility database. Fans also can check into games on Facebook and invite friends, as well as talk trash with others in another area of the app. "The concept is to enhance the live sports viewing experience rather than replace it," Hunsinger said. "Sports are inherently social. We want to connect friends, fans and foes, if you will, around the game action and enhance the viewing experience by allowing people to connect on whatever and socialize and consume the game conversation at whatever level that they're comfortable with." Hunsinger received a big lift from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen right after he came up with the idea for SportService. The billionaire owner of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and NFL's Seattle Seahawks funded the new company with a 3.5 million investment through his firm, Vulcan Inc. Hunsinger and Allen are betting on sports becoming even more intertwined with social media in the future. "I think actually we're just on the front edge of a wave," Hunsinger said. "I think that it's going to continue to explode."

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Sammy Solis makes return for Nats, could be big for playoffs

Sammy Solis makes return for Nats, could be big for playoffs

There are a lot of reasons the Nationals like reliever Sammy Solis, beyond the obvious, that he's simply another good left-hander they can use in late-game spots. He's versatile with the ability to pitch multiple innings and he can also get both lefties and righties out. 

Solis holds lefties to a .193 batting average and right-handers to a .229 clip. As manager Dusty Baker has said before, he doesn't have to mix-and-match with Solis like he does with other left-handed relievers.

Tuesday night was the first time in a while that Baker got to call on Solis. The 28-year-old had just returned from the disabled list after recovering from left shoulder inflammation. His seventh inning spot against the Diamondbacks was his first since Aug. 15. After six weeks of rehab, including a setback, Solis is now back in the mix, just in time for the playoffs.

"He said he was ready. We threw him right in the fire," Baker said.

Solis came back firing his fastball at 93 and 94 miles per hour. His first pitch sailed high and out of the zone. He was nervous.

“I would say a few butterflies in there," he said. "But once I got past the first pitch it was all good. Right back to the comfort zone of being on the mound.”

Solis quickly found his command and got three outs on balls put in play. He threw 12 pitches to complete a perfect frame and a bridge to the eighth inning where Shawn Kelley took over.

That seventh inning could be a good place for Solis with Kelley thriving in the setup role and Mark Melancon firmly installed in the ninth. Baker clearly trusts Solis in high leverage spots, as evidenced by his decision to hand him one in his first game back.

“Honestly, I want to be there. I expect to be there, having my name called in later innings in a close game," Solis said.

Solis can get just about anyone out when he's pitching well. But having him in store for the NL Division Series against the Dodgers could prove paramount. Their lineup is potent and it's heavy on left-handers.

Between Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Joc Pederson, the Dodgers not only have balance, they have tons of power from the left side. Those four have a combined 80 homers this season and Solis has never allowed one to a left-handed batter through 97 plate appearances.

Solis saw the Dodgers twice this year - on June 20 and 21 - and struck out three through 1 2/3 innings. He feels like he can be a big help in that series.

"I really hope I’m in there especially with a left-handed dominant lineup like they have and some power as well. I just hope to be on [the playoff roster]" he said.

He doesn't have to worry about that one.

[RELATED: Dodgers set rotation for playoff series against Nationals]

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Redskins forced to shuffle interior O-line again

Redskins forced to shuffle interior O-line again

For the second straight year the Redskins are going to undergo some early–season shuffling in the interior of their offensive line.

Last year left guard Shawn Lauvao was sidelined with an ankle injury after Week 3 and was replaced by Spencer Long. Then after Week 5 center Kory Lichtensteiger went out with a shoulder and neck problem and Josh LeRibeus took his place.

Now Lauvao and Lichtensteiger are out again. Lauvao is week to week with what Jay Gruden described as a “moderate” ankle sprain and Lichtensteiger is on the shelf for at least eight weeks as he went on injured reserve yesterday with a calf strain.

They went with a makeshift lineup for the second half of the Giants game, a lineup that had Trent Williams playing guard for the first time ever. But they have signed some reinforcements and now it will be up to Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan to sort out who will play where against the Browns this week and how they will align them going forward.

The Redskins signed veteran center John Sullivan on Tuesday. Getting him ready to play on Sunday against Cleveland would be a tall task. In addition to learning the plays and blocking schemes, the line calls are very intricate and they take some time to master. Sullivan was out all of last year with back problems so there has to be some rust. However, he was in training camp for the Vikings and he did play some in the preseason before Minnesota released him.

They also moved Vinston Painter from the practice squad to the active roster. The Redskins are his fifth organization since the Broncos drafted him in the sixth round in 2013. He’s a backup for right now but that could change in the weeks ahead.

Arie Kouandjio, who has one NFL snap on his resume, could get his first start since coming to the Redskins in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. It may depend on whether or not Sullivan can pass a crash course on playing center over the next 72 hours or so.

If Sullivan can’t go, they start Long at center, Kouandjio at left guard, and Williams at left tackle. If Sullivan is ready he could go a center with Long at left guard.

They do have the option of putting Williams at left guard again and having Ty Nsekhe fill in at left tackle. But Williams is not getting paid $10.6 million to be a backup guard; he’s one of the best players in the league at one of the most important positions on the offense. If they can’t coach up Kouandjio to start a game they should reconsider both their personnel and their coaching choices.