See who won All-Star Game's "Final Vote"

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See who won All-Star Game's "Final Vote"

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese are headed to the All-Star game after fans voted them into next week's showcase in Kansas City. "I feel very good," Darvish said Thursday through an interpreter. "I know the way that I got selected was a vote by the fans, so I appreciate all the fans who voted for me. I'm looking forward to it." Darvish is the eighth Rangers player on the American League team managed by Texas' Ron Washington. He beat out four other pitchers: Chicago's Jake Peavy, Baltimore's Jason Hammel, Kansas City's Jonathan Broxton and the Angels' Ernesto Frieri. "It just wasn't meant to be," said Peavy, who was supported by an aggressive marketing campaign by the White Sox. "We knew it's hard to outvote a country." Freese emerged from a National League field that included Atlanta outfielder Michael Bourn, Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper and Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill. "I'm happy, I'm thrilled," Freese said before St. Louis hosted the Rockies on Thursday. "Thank you Cardinal Nation. Unbelievable support from friends, family and Cardinals fans." Darvish has made a smooth adjustment to the major leagues after the Rangers committed more than 107 million to bring him to the U.S. The 25-year-old right-hander got a guaranteed 56 million, six-year contract and Texas also paid a record 51.7 million posting bid to his team in Japan. Darvish responded by going 6-1 with a 2.60 ERA in his first eight starts. The rookie leveled off a bit but is 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA for the only team in the majors with 50 wins. And now he's into his first major league All-Star game. "I don't know where I stand amongst the team, I just want to stay quiet and stay out of the way of the players, not be a burden to them," he said. "I'll have (Rangers teammate) Matt Harrison act as my older brother, I'll just hide behind him all day." Atlanta's Chipper Jones had been in the running for the NL spot before he was chosen as an injury replacement for Matt Kemp. Online voting for the final spots ended Thursday.

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Film study: Most common mistakes Wizards continue to make

Film study: Most common mistakes Wizards continue to make

The 104-100 win against Atlanta Hawks, who led the Wizards by as many as 14 points on Wednesday, was full of missed opportunities that were common in losses to the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets and Dallas Mavericks.

In this one game alone, the Wizards made these mistakes multiple times and it's where they have to clean up if they want a winning record on a five-game road trip that begins Saturday at the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Help rotations

They're completely busted more often than not, and in this one Otto Porter gets beaten as he recovers to the ball. Taurean Prince gets an unobstructed view at the rim and it's on Marcin Gortat to leave Dwight Howard to stop him. Instead he stays with Howard. The only chance the Wizards have at stopping this layup is for Gortat to help. If he blocks it, the ball either goes out of bounds and the Hawks have to reset and earn two points the harder way. Or maybe the ball stays inbounds and the Wizards collect it. Regardless of what happens, just allowing this straight-line drive can't be allowed. If Howard gets it and puts it back, so be it. At least that requires another effort by Atlanta to score. Howard can mishandle the rebound, miss the dunk or get fouled and be forced to make the foul shots. 

First-side shots

Too many possesions begin and end like this. The ball doesn't move and the ballhandler, in this case John Wall, takes the shot after dribbling out the shot clock. When the Wizards were playing their best going 18-3 into the All-Star break, these plays were non-existent. They're better when they run motion, rip screen and down screen for each other and go away from the pick-and-roll as the first option. This puts the defense on the move, into switches and recovery. Then the Wizards would hit them with the pick-and-roll while in scramble mode of the intial action didn't produce a good look. Going to it as option one, unless there's a major mismatch that can be exploited, isn't as productive. 

[RELATED: Wizards' Brooks has little sympathy in NBA rest debate]

Open-court execution

How many times have you seen the Wizards deny a possession, force a bad shot or get the steal like Bradley Beal here, get in the open court for a 3-on-1 and end up with this? The passing, spacing and finishing just aren't there. They ended up getting fouled but this should be an easy momentum-building play. 

Running crisp sets

John Wall attacks the basket but really doesn't have a seam. He ends up too far under the basket and has to loft up a prayer. His teammates didn't run this set with much zest. They don't make themselves available on spot-ups either so there are no other options. Wall is playing at one speed. They're all one speed slower.

Clumsy outlets/inbounding

Getting these stolen have become a bad habit. Defenders are trying to slow down the ball so they're staying at home on Wall to prevent him from getting a full sprint. Throwing quick outlet passes after a miss or trying to get a quick inbound to push the pace is what the Wizards are supposed to do. But the inbounder has to survey the floor before first and the guard receiving the ball has to communicate with him, too, if he spots a spy trying to jump the ball.

Late/confused switching

They have to be more aggressive by not allowing too much space when swapping players they must defend, particularly on handoffs. Switching is what must be done because handoffs are effectively screens if executed properly. To stop the ballhandler from going downhill at full speed, a switch has to occur. Any hesitation or delay creates a path to the rim or puts you in a position where you end up fouling. Markieff Morris, who has been limited by a sinus infection recently and mutliple bouts of early foul trouble, has gotten sent to the bench early because of it. 

[RELATED: Beal thinks Wizards got their swag back vs. Hawks]

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Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

It made everyone do a double-take, then it made perfect sense to non-Cincinnati and non-Pittsburgh fans.

Back in Week 12 when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, it wasn't a single touchdown that made national headlines. Rather it was a game ending safety that cut a seven-point deficit to only five. 

On the final play, numerous Ravens players held the opposing Bengals, who were setting up to receive punt, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Punter Sam Koch, just sat back, draining the clock before finally running out the back of the end zone with the clock at zero. 

SEE LINK FOR FULL RULE EXPLANATION

Thursday it was proposed to the NFL's Competition Committee to make plays like this illegal. 

While it may be considered unfair to some, making this new rule would simply add to an already expanding rule book and only be used for a select handful of plays a year, maybe. 

Eliminating cleverness of coaches that are well versed in the NFL rule book, should not be the approach of the of rule adaptations. There is no impact on player safety nor does it make the game 'more watchable' (like the extra-point rule).

Not only that, but the new proposed rule just leaves another set of loopholes for coaches to take advantage of at the end of a game. What if team trying to score on the last play commits two offensive penalties just to get another shot at the endzone?

But before making a massive overhaul to fix all of the loopholes in the NFL rule book, can we establish what a catch is first?

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