College Football: Alabama vs Ohio State, Oregon Ducks vs Florida State Advance To College Football Playoff

1st Annual College Football Playoff is set; Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State set for championship showdown:

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Game Previews via ESPN:

Rose Bowl:

NO. 2 OREGON DUCKS (12-1) vs. NO. 3 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (13-0)
JAN. 1, 5 P.M. ET, ROSE BOWL, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA (ESPN)

OREGON BREAKDOWN

Season highlight: Winning the Pac-12 championship. The Ducks’ 38-point win against Arizona made up for the fact the Wildcats gave the Ducks their only blemish of the season. But when you come back and absolutely dominate that opponent in the most important game of the season, those wounds seem to heal pretty quickly. Quarterback Marcus Mariota had more than one Heisman moment and finished the day with three rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns. Read the rest of this entry

NBA: Bulls Jimmy Butler In The Midst Of An All-Star, Career Season In Chicago

Sports Illustrated and Sports Media World sit down with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler in Portland for extensive SI NBA feature:

Jimmy Butler’s smile says it all: It’s been a good month for the Bulls’ budding star.

Back in Butler’s hometown of Tomball, Texas, they might even use a phrase like “boom times” to describe his strong start this season. Chicago’s defensive-minded shooting guard is averaging 20.8 points and posting career-high numbers across the board. Not only is Butler looking like a leading candidate to become a first-time All-Star, he is also emerging as one of the most-coveted free agents of the 2015 class.

The smile crept across Butler’s face again as he thought back to the Tomball teenager who, even though he wasn’t recruited by a single Division-I school, was convinced that he was the best player in the country.

“Derrick [Rose] and I were both in the Class of 2007,” Butler told SI.com during an extended interview in Portland, where the Bulls were playing, on Saturday. “At that time, I never paid attention to the game. I didn’t know this guy was No. 1 in the nation or this guy was No. 10. Some of my teammates did and obviously Derrick was No. 1 in the nation. They’d come to the games and say, ‘Did you see what Derrick Rose did last night? Simeon High School! Chicago, Illinois!’ Everyone in the nation knew who Derrick Rose was.

“Me being myself, I was like, ‘Let him come down here, I’ll give him 40.’”

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MLB: Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw and Angels Mike Trout Named NL/AL MVP’s

2014 MVP: Dodgers Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw also wins NL MVP as Angels slugger Mike Trout wins his first AL MVP:

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Via AP:

NEW YORK (AP) — For once, Clayton Kershaw was glad to see a long shutout streak end.

Kershaw became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award since Bob Gibson in 1968, coasting to an easy victory Thursday.

”A little bit of shock, honestly,” the Dodgers ace said on a conference call. ”I guess I never really anticipated to win that.”

A day after unanimously taking the NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw completed a Los Angeles sweep. A little earlier, Angels outfielder Mike Trout was a unanimous pick for the AL MVP. Read the rest of this entry

NBA: The LeBron James Financial Stimulus To The City Of Cleveland

The New York Times on the economic and financial impact of local hero LeBron James’ return to Cleveland and NE Ohio:

When LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in July, fans celebrated by hanging banners, getting drunk and digging old jerseys out of purgatory. They ran into the streets, honked horns and hugged strangers. And some of them started trying to figure out just how much money was about to rain down on Cleveland. According to one estimate, the return of the “king,” as James is known, will add $500 million a year to the city’s economy. “When people say this is just about an athlete making money, there’s more to it than that,” said Edward FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, at a news conference devoted to the anticipated windfall. “Other people will make a living.”

James is certainly a good investment for the Cavaliers, who will probably cover his $20.6 million salary just from increased ticket sales. The last season James played in Cleveland, after all, the Cavs sold every available regular-season seat at an average price of $55.95, earning about $47 million. Last season, the Cavaliers sold just 84 percent at an average price of just $43.31, for a decline of $16 million. This year, season tickets sold out the day James announced his return, and demand is so overwhelming that the team is raffling the remaining single-game tickets so that everyone in Cleveland has a fair chance. Read the rest of this entry

MLB: SF Giants Win 3rd World Series Title In 5 Years Behind MVP Pitcher Madison Bumgarner & Pablo Sandoval

World Series: Giants beat Royals in Game 7 to win another World Series title as Ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner wins Series MVP:

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Via MLB:

KANSAS CITY — The names roll smoothly off the tongue, for they have become legendary. Willie Mays. Willie McCovey. Barry Bonds. Juan Marichal. Christy Mathewson. Carl Hubbell. Mel Ott. Each occupies a hallowed spot in the pantheon of Giants franchise greats. Add another to this assemblage: Madison Bumgarner.

The 25-year-old left-hander joined this distinguished group Wednesday night by completing a World Series performance that might rank as the finest by a Giant in the club’s history. He garnished his victories in Games 1 and 5 with five shutout innings of relief to earn the save in Game 7 to help San Francisco outlast the Kansas City Royals, 3-2. The decision sealed the Giants’ third World Series triumph in five seasons.

With the win, the Giants broke a string of nine consecutive home-team wins in Game 7 of the World Series, becoming the first road team to win Game 7 since the 1979 Pirates. Predictably, Bumgarner was unanimously named the Series’ Most Valuable Player Award winner after allowing one earned run in 21 innings, for a microscopic 0.43 ERA. The award created a matching set for Bumgarner, who also won MVP honors in the National League Championship Series against St. Louis.

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New Lakers PG Jeremy Lin On His New Opportunity In LA, Moving On From Houston & Gaining Magic’s Support

Sports Media World and Sports Illustrated connect w/ Lakers PG Jeremy Lin to talk Lakers, Kobe, Magic and departing Houston:

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Jeremy Lin found out he’d be the Lakers’ starting point guard in peculiar fashion. Magic Johnson vouched for Lin last Wednesday, shortly after Steve Nash was ruled out for the season with a back injury. And yet coach Byron Scott, Johnson’s Showtime backcourt partner, delayed his decision until after Ronnie Price bruised his right knee in the preseason finale on Friday. Once Scott was ready to choose Lin as the starter for Tuesday’s opener against the Rockets in Los Angeles, he informed reporters before telling Lin or his teammates.

Many NBA players might be taken aback by not receiving a direct show of support or a team-wide pronouncement, but the world learned at the beginning of Linsanity in 2012 that Lin isn’t easily included in the group of many NBA players. In less than eight months he went from the D-League, to the toast of the Big Apple and global superstardom, to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet with Houston that went unmatched by the Knicks. Read the rest of this entry

NFL: Seahawks Lose Vikings Trade; Ship WR Percy Harvin Distraction To NY Jets

Seattle Times on the Seahawks trading talented Percy Harvin to the Jets after bad chemistry and locker room incidents emerge:

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RENTON – In a move that shocked the NFL, the Seahawks on Friday traded receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick.

One source confirmed to The Seattle Times on Friday that the deal, first reported by Fox Sports, was agreed upon and an official announcement was made by the teams on Saturday morning. The trade does not become official until Harvin passes a physical.

One source told The Times the Seahawks had decided Harvin, 26, “just wasn’t a fit” with the rest of the team and the trade had as much to do with what was happening in the locker room as it did Harvin’s production on the field. The team, a source said, was “just ready to move on” from Harvin despite his obvious on-field gifts.

Sources also said a few incidents in recent months helped set the stage for Friday’s stunning trade.

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Sports Business: New NBA Media Rights Deal With ESPN / Turner Sports Delivers $24 Billion Over 9 Years To League

Sports Business Journal w/ the details of the NBA’s new lucrative 9 year Media Rights extension with ESPN and Turner Sports:

nbatvVia SBJ:

The NBA, ESPN and Turner today formally announced nine-year media-rights extensions worth a massive $24B through the ’24-25 season. The new deals begin with the ’16-17 season. The average annual $2.6B in combined payments is 2.8 times higher than the current deal, which averages around $930M per year.

Sources say ESPN will account for about $1.4B of the deal per year; and Turner’s payment will average around $1.2B. The league and the nets began negotiating in earnest back in February with both partners making sure the NBA did not turn to Comcast or Fox for a new deal. The deals keep other nets like FS1 and NBCSN from picking up a third package.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA “had discussions, but not negotiations,” with Comcast and Fox. Silver: “I don’t think we left any money on the table.” ESPN’s deal includes radio, int’l and WNBA rights. ESPN President John Skipper said, “Sports rights are more and more valuable.” Turner described this deal as a priority for its parent company, Time Warner. Turner President David Levy said, “It will be a meaningful valuable deal.”

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Derek Jeter Delivers Game Winning Hit In His Final At Bat At Yankee Stadium

End of an Era: Retiring Yankees legend Derek Jeter gives fans a final goodbye; delivers game winning hit in his final game in NY:  

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Via Yahoo Sports: 

NEW YORK – The New York Yankees exist to make gods, to turn humans superhuman by virtue of their defining characteristics, real or imagined. Babe Ruth was the larger-than-life caricature, Lou Gehrig the classy figure felled by tragedy, Mickey Mantle the purest talent possible, Joe DiMaggio the essence of gracefulness, Yogi Berra the human malaprop. They live on in Monument Park, the center field homage at Yankee Stadium, to which people travel from around the world, as though on Hajj, to pay respects.

Derek Jeter arrived here with the No. 2 on his back, anointed before he’d taken a single swing with a single-digit number, which only Yankees greats wear. Before long, his sobriquet was clear: Derek Jeter, the epitome of clutch, the sort of legend that grew in his salad days and waned as the vagaries of time took with it most of his game. Read the rest of this entry

As Expected Team USA Basketball Wins Gold Medal At FIBA World Cup in Spain

The NBA stars of USA Basketball win the gold medal; routing Serbia in Spain clinching a berth for 2016 Brazil Olympics:

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Via NBA.com

MADRID — After being asked about it for weeks, they can answer honestly and without the least bit of arrogance. They are indeed unbeatable, the U.S. National Team, winners of 45 straight games in World Cup/World Championship and Olympic competition.

Yes, the best from the U.S. is way better than what anyone else can offer up on basketball’s global stage. Those NBA players who sported red, white and blue on Sunday in the gold medal game of the FIBA World Cup backed it all up by decimating Serbia early and rolling to a 129-92 win and repeating as champs after winning the 2010 World Championship in Turkey.

Serbian pride was supposed to carry the day and make the final the biggest and best test for a team of U.S. stars who weren’t even considered the “B-Team.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” said outspoken U.S. forward Kenneth Faried, who made the five-man All-Tournament team, trying to be mindful of U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s edict to respect the process and opponent. “I know what you are asking. So no, we are not ‘unbeatable.’ But we seemed to prove that theory in a different way tonight. We handled our business and got that gold medal.” Read the rest of this entry