AJ Pollock is making an impact in the leadoff spot for the Chicago White Sox with Tim Anderson sidelined
AJ Pollock hit a chopper to third with two outs in the eighth inning Monday against the Houston Astros.
Alex Bregman charged but couldn’t come up with the ball, and Pollock reached on an infield hit.
It was the beginning of a big rally for the Chicago White Sox.
Pollock advanced to third on Andrew Vaughn’s double to right and scored on Eloy Jiménez’s game-tying two-run double to left. The Sox pulled ahead later in the inning on Yoán Moncada’s two-run single to center.
Pollock had two hits in the 4-2 win. It was his third straight two-hit game as he fills in at the top of the order for injured shortstop Tim Anderson.
Pollock had three hits, an RBI and a run Aug. 7 against the Texas Rangers in his first game in the leadoff spot with Anderson out, first with a two-game suspension and then the hand injury. And Pollock has continued to hit.
He led off Saturday with a single and scored on a sacrifice fly, and he added a solo home run in the eighth in a 6-4 win against the Detroit Tigers.
He homered Sunday leading off the third, then doubled in the fifth and scored the tying run in a 5-3 victory against the Tigers.
Pollock went 11-for-28 with four doubles, two home runs, four RBIs and six runs in his first seven games with Anderson out. He slashed .393/.438/.750 during the stretch.
“Honestly it’s weird when you look at the numbers,” Pollock said before Monday’s game. “For me, they are pretty skewed, but I don’t know if that’s a freak thing or what.”
Pollock entered Tuesday’s must-see pitching matchup between Dylan Cease and Astros veteran Justin Verlander slashing .397/.435/.641 in 18 games this season in the No. 1 slot.
“It really shouldn’t matter,” Pollock said of the spot in the lineup. “As a hitter you prepare the same way. Maybe get things going a little bit quicker when you are in the leadoff spot. But other than that, nothing really changes.”
He was 31-for-78 with seven doubles, four home runs, 12 RBIs and 14 runs in those 18 games.
“You look at his credentials,” La Russa said Sunday. “He’s a quality big-league hitter and big-league defender. He saw the need when Tim was missing. If he had to hit second, third or fourth, he’d do that too.”
Overall, Pollock is slashing .246/.295/.378 with 20 doubles, seven home runs, 39 RBIs and 40 runs in 95 games.
He was back in the top spot and playing center field Tuesday. It was his 12th start in center this season, with 60 in left and 10 in right.
Starting center fielder Luis Robert continues to recover from a sprained left wrist suffered Friday against the Tigers while attempting to steal second base.
La Russa said before Tuesday’s game the key is Robert making improvement with his swing.
“Everything else is ready to play,” La Russa said. “He was not near enough to 100% to play this game (Tuesday), but he’s doing treatment and we’re anxious to see the swings he takes.”
La Russa does not see a need for Robert to go on the injured list.
“He may play as early as (Wednesday) or sometime in the next couple of days,” La Russa said. “He’s feeling better, he’s just got to take swings.”
As for Anderson, the Sox shortstop is sidelined for six weeks after tearing the sagittal band on his left middle finger Aug. 6 against the Rangers.
“He’s a quick healer,” La Russa said. “He’s always been ‘sooner rather than later,’ but he still has a cast on his finger. (It) doesn’t come off until Thursday. I think once he starts getting functional, it’ll happen pretty fast. Not real fast, just faster than normal.”
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Middle-schoolers fine-tune their dance skills at Ailey Camp
By Rowena Gonden
Bay City News Foundation
BERKELEY — Arms rotating backward, dozens of young dancers in matching outfits warm up onstage in the final rehearsal before showtime.
“Shoulders, elbows, cha-cha-cha,” they chant to a sparse audience scattered among the seats of the cavernous theater.
“Up, up, up … down, down, down,” instructor Vincent Chavez calls out, guiding his class as they stretch their arms to the ceiling and then directly in front of them, fingers interlocked.
Four dozen youngsters are returning to school with plenty to say about what they did this summer after attending a dance camp on the UC Berkeley campus.
And they won’t only be talking about moves they learned, like the jete in ballet or jazz’s step ball change; Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp — conceived by pioneering New York City choreographer Alvin Ailey in 1989 — also teaches lessons designed to set middle-schoolers up for success in all facets of their lives.
“The mission is to use dance as a vehicle for self-expression … but at the same time … you’re also learning about professional and personal life skills,” said camp director Patricia West.
“The “program gives youth the opportunity … to figure out how to be [their] personal best.”
Held in Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus, the camp is open to 11- to 14-year-olds in the Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and Albany unified school districts at no cost.
For six weeks, youngsters take four classes a day, rotating through sessions in jazz and ballet as well as African and modern dance.
When they are not challenging themselves physically, they are engaged in activities aimed at developing the whole person. The curriculum includes art projects, writing assignments, role playing and group discussions, as well as the recitation of daily affirmations to help campers understand and accept themselves more fully and communicate effectively.
This personal development component covers a broad array of topics, from recognizing the difference between healthy and toxic relationships to being true to oneself in the face of peer pressure. Young people also learn how to set goals, manage stress and resolve conflict, as well as to appreciate that their decisions can have far-reaching effects.
“It’s not just dance — these are life skills that they’re learning,” West said.
Overseeing the camp is Cal Performances, the university’s performing arts presenter that hosts appearances by world-renown singers, stage actors and dancers.
Among Cal Performance’s regular visitors is the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which has entertained Bay Area audiences with weeklong performances on the campus for all but one of the past 53 years.
And since 2002, the New York City dance company has teamed up with Cal Performances to hold Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp, one of nine such youth summer camps in the United States.
Cal Performances not only gives each camper a full scholarship but also provides Oakland students with free round-trip bus transportation to the campus as well as breakfast and lunch for everyone. In addition, each student receives ballet slippers, T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, unitards and backpacks.
With the exercises over, youngsters don their costumes and arrange themselves in a triangular formation onstage.
No one needs reminding that when the curtain rises the following night, they’ll be delivering a 90-minute performance in front of hundreds of friends and family.
Loud drumming suddenly fills the theater and as the lights come up the dancers’ outstretched arms jerk in unison to the staccato rhythms, their black costumes a dramatic contrast to the bright red backdrop.
Berkeley seventh-grader Isabel Thumas wasn’t happy when she discovered her mother had signed her up for the camp without telling her.
“Honestly, I was really hesitant to go,” said Isabel who, although no stranger to dance classes, disliked the idea of mingling with kids she didn’t know.
She also was self-conscious about wearing a unitard, Isabel said.
But six weeks later, the 12-year-old had made peace with her figure after seeing the array of different shapes and sizes in class, and there was a new note of confidence in her voice.
“I would say it’s better than most camps,” Isabel said. “It doesn’t matter what you look like — like if you’re thin or big. We’re all equal because we’re human.”
Rowen Weeramantry gives the camp high marks for teaching “life stuff.”
The Oakland 13-year-old practiced expressing himself through abstract art projects and writing poetry, which he read during weekly open-mic sessions.
As for the dancing, Rowen says his body is more flexible now, and he has decided that ballet is his favorite form of expression despite its emphasis on precision.
“I feel a lot of people hate ballet because it’s so strict, but Mr. [Vincent] Chavez teaches it in such a freeing way,” he said.
To learn more about, or donate to, Berkeley/Oakland Ailey Camp, go to https://calperformances.org/community/aileycamp.
Jenna Ellis ordered to appear before election scheme grand jury
By Tierney Sneed | CNN
A judge in Colorado said on Tuesday that Jenna Ellis, an attorney who represented Donald Trump during and after the 2020 election, must appear before the Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury investigating the former President’s election schemes.
In issuing the order, 8th Judicial District Judge Gregory Lammons stressed the limited role he was being asked to play.
This is “one witness in this state testifying in another state,” he said at the end of an hour-long hearing on the matter, which had been initiated by local prosecutors in Colorado on behalf of the Atlanta prosecutors leading the probe.
Fulton County investigators have subpoenaed Ellis for grand jury testimony for August 25. However they have offered a range of dates on which she could appear in order to accommodate her schedule, Dawn Downs, a lawyer in the Larimer County district attorney’s office, said in the hearing.
During the hearing in the Larimer County courthouse in Fort Collins, Will Wooten, a lawyer in the Fulton County district attorney’s office, testified virtually about why Ellis’ testimony was “material” and “necessary” to the special grand jury that has been empaneled in Atlanta to investigate the Trump-aligned efforts to subvert the 2020 election results in Georgia.
Wooten said the investigation had five areas of interest in seeking her testimony: investigators’ belief that she was involved in planning hearings before Georgia lawmakers where Trump allies pushed claims of mass election fraud; legal memos Ellis authored advising that then-Vice President Mike Pence could disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s win; her social media posts promoting election fraud claims; her participation in media interviews where she made those allegations; and any “unique knowledge” she would have about how Trump’s associates were coordinating.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is leading the special grand jury investigation, where among the crimes being probed are solicitation of election fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to state and local government bodies.
Democratic Georgia lawmakers have recounted to CNN testimony they’ve given before the grand jury focused on the hearings that Trump’s team participated in before the legislature. At Tuesday’s hearing in the Ellis subpoena dispute, Wooten said that the grand jury was interested in her testimony as it related to the hearings that were held before a George Senate subcommittee on December 3 and December 30, 2020, as well as a virtual proceeding on December 10 before a Georgia House committee.
Michael Melito, an attorney for Ellis, pushed Wooten on what evidence he had that Ellis played a role in organizing those proceedings. Wooten noted that she was present for at least one of them, though he acknowledged that she did not testify at any of them. Wooten also pointed out that Ellis testified in a similar legislative proceeding in Colorado, where election fraud allegations like those made in Georgia hearings were pushed.
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Lammons, as he explained why he had concluded that the grand jury testimony did not pose an undue burden on Ellis, noted that her travels on the East Coast put her closer to Georgia than if she had been traveling from Colorado.
Did Tony La Russa hear a fan’s suggestion? The Chicago White Sox manager explains his 8th-inning pinch-running decision.
A video of a fan calling for Tony La Russa to pinch-run Adam Engel for Eloy Jiménez from a few rows away — and the Chicago White Sox manager making the move in the eighth inning of Monday’s game — went viral, even appearing on MLB Network.
When asked about it before Tuesday’s game against the Houston Astros, La Russa said it was the first he had heard about the fan, but he added with a smile: “Well, make his day. Tell him I heard him.”
Jiménez tied the game with a two-run double with two outs in the eighth. José Abreu was batting when La Russa took a couple of steps on the field to call time and have Engel run for Jiménez.
Engel made it to third when Abreu and Yasmani Grandal walked (Abreu intentionally). Engel and Abreu scored on a single by Yoán Moncada, and the Sox went on to win 4-2.
La Russa explained the process before Tuesday’s game.
“I spent a lot of time talking with (coaches) Jerry (Narron) and Miguel (Cairo),” La Russa said. “It was a really tough call. I can tell you why. We went back and forth with it. It’s the eighth inning, the score is tied. So if it’s tied again in the ninth, in the 10th, and Jiménez’s spot is coming up — he’s third place in the inning — do you want to take his bat out?
“His defense (in left field) has been good enough. I worried more about if it’s a close play (at the plate) and he’s going to try to run it, he might hurt himself. That was a difficult choice. Ninth inning, sure. Eighth inning, in a tie game, I said I’d rather not. I’d regret getting him hurt.
“And secondly, we’ll have real good defense out there (with Engel, who came in at center while AJ Pollock shifted to left) and if he gets up can do something too. That was the hesitation. It was a very tough call.”
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Fed appeals court: ADA protections cover ‘gender dysphoria’
By Devan Cole | CNN
A federal appeals court said Tuesday that the Americans with Disabilities Act covers individuals with “gender dysphoria,” handing a win to trans people in a case concerning a former inmate who alleged discrimination at a Virginia prison.
In a majority opinion issued by a three-judge panel with the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the court wrote, “In light of the ‘basic promise of equality … that animates the ADA,’ we see no legitimate reason why Congress would intend to exclude from the ADA’s protections transgender people who suffer from gender dysphoria.”
Gender dysphoria describes an uncomfortable conflict between a person’s assigned gender and the gender with which the person identifies, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
“We have little trouble concluding that a law excluding from ADA protection both ‘gender identity disorders’ and gender dysphoria would discriminate against transgender people as a class, implicating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the ruling read, referring to a constitutional clause that has been used in court to protect minority groups from discrimination.
The treatment of trans inmates has long been a focus of advocates for trans rights, with stories of abuse fueling calls for reforms and more targeted anti-discrimination laws. Activists hailed Tuesday’s ruling, saying it will be a helpful precedent for future litigation.
The case at hand concerned Kesha Williams, a trans woman with gender dysphoria who was held for six months at a Virginia prison.
“Though prison deputies initially assigned her to women’s housing, they quickly moved her to men’s housing when they learned that she was transgender,” according to the ruling, which said that while held in the men’s facility, Williams “experienced delays in medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, harassment by other inmates, and persistent and intentional misgendering and harassment by prison deputies.”
Williams sued several individuals connected to the prison, claiming that the way she was treated was a violation of the ADA and other laws.
A district court initially dismissed Williams’ case on the basis of the ADA’s explicit exclusion of “gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments” from protection under the law. Williams appealed, arguing that because the language of the exclusion is dated and undefined, it was up to the court to determine whether gender dysphoria is protected under the ADA.
The appeals court, citing an updated medical understanding, reversed the lower court’s dismissal.
“In sum, we hold that Williams has plausibly alleged that gender dysphoria does not fall within the ADA’s exclusion for ‘gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments,'” the ruling said.
CNN reached out to attorneys for several of the defendants named in the case for comment.
Though the matter still needs to go back to a lower court to settle additional questions central to the case, Joshua Erlich, an attorney for Williams, told CNN that Tuesday’s ruling “is a really meaningful win for trans people more broadly because this opinion applies not just (to) people who are incarcerated, but for workplace accommodations, for public accommodations.”
“The ruling in this case is consistent with the ruling in Bostock several years ago … that extended employment protections under Title VII to trans employees,” he said, referring to a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that said federal civil rights law protects LGBTQ workers.
He continued: “I think that this ruling in a lot of ways was mandated by the language in Bostock. To the extent that Bostock has created a positive trajectory for trans rights, this is a continuation of that.”
A number of advocacy groups signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief for the case co-authored by the LGBTQ legal rights group GLAD and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). In a statement following the ruling, NCLR’s legal director Shannon Minter said that the “decision sets a powerful precedent that will be important for other courts considering this critical issue.”
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“This opinion goes a long way toward removing social and cultural barriers that keep people with treatable, but misunderstood, medical conditions from being able to thrive,” Levi said.
Why SF Giants have Joc Pederson doing work at first base
SAN FRANCISCO — If there’s one thing the Giants don’t need, it’s another first baseman.
There’s Brandon Belt, of course. Wilmer Flores is next on the depth chart. Then LaMonte Wade Jr. and Tommy La Stella. Heck, the Giants subtracted one first baseman at the trade deadline — Darin Ruf — and replaced him with another, J.D. Davis.
“We’re pretty deep at first base,” acknowledged manager Gabe Kapler.
Add another name to the list: Joc Pederson.
If the Giants are so deep at first, why, then, has Pederson spent time before each of the past two games going through work at the position? Pederson has played 21 games there in his major-league career, most recently logging a single inning last season for the Cubs, but has primarily been a left fielder and designated hitter for the Giants.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it,” Kapler said. “It’s just another way for Joc to stay athletic and ready for any situation. … He’s just going out there to get some reps. I don’t think it’s leading to anything. I don’t think there’s any master plan with it. It’s not going to hurt him.”
Joc Pederson been doing work at first base past couple days, but #SFGiants Gabe Kapler says, “I wouldn’t read too much into it.” pic.twitter.com/jE16MJlaSp
— Evan Webeck (@EvanWebeck) August 17, 2022
For a situation that isn’t leading anywhere, though, Kapler seemed particularly invested.
Wearing a first baseman’s mitt, Pederson first did glove work using bench coach Kai Correa’s little red pitching machine tossing him ground balls in foul territory. Then he moved to first base, where Correa, who is also the Giants’ primary infield instructor, went over footwork while covering the bag and fed him throws.
When he was finished meeting with reporters in the Giants dugout, Kapler caught Correa and asked, “How’s Joc?” To which Correa responded with a thumbs up. Kapler, who most days spends time with his own first baseman’s mitt during the Giants’ infield drills, positioned himself behind Pederson and watched him for the remainder of his work.
“It’s similar to how Curt Casali used to think about it,” Kapler said, referencing the former catcher the Giants dealt to Seattle at the trade deadline. “Like, where am I on the depth chart at first base? Like, fifth or sixth, OK cool, I’ll just got get some reps over there. … I think it’s in part playful. It’s not a bad thing for him to have that ability.”Related Articles
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Pederson, a pending free agent, could view it as a way to expand his versatility and make himself a more attractive option on the open market as his perceived value dips along with his production at the plate. Pederson hasn’t homered since June 25 and is batting .192/.281/.282 since the start of July.
Riding the second-longest homerless stretch of his career, Pederson has already changed his walk-up music and ordered a new shipment of bats to try to break out of his funk. Maybe switching up his pregame routine can help, too.
On the topic of potential first baseman trying out different positions, Kapler said the Giants are committed to getting Yermín Mercedes more looks at catcher while he is in Triple-A. Mercedes hasn’t appeared at catcher since being demoted earlier this month but Kapler said the plan is to get Mercedes behind the plate once or twice a week.
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Mike Preston’s Ravens training camp observations on Odafe Oweh’s breakout potential, Joe Flacco vs. Baltimore and more | COMMENTARY
The Ravens could be without rookie outside linebacker David Ojabo for at least the first half of the season as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon, but second-year player Odafe Oweh seems prepared to pick up the slack.
Oweh, an outside linebacker and first-round selection out of Penn State in 2021, finished last season with five sacks and 33 tackles while playing in 15 games, including two starts.
He spent most of last season trying to figure out the NFL and, most importantly, develop more pass-rushing moves than relying on his sheer speed on the outside.
Through more than three weeks of practice, Oweh has had an impressive training camp. The offseason work on his speed, hand usage and leverage has been noticeable.
This could be his breakout season as Ojabo, a second-round pick from Michigan, heals.
“You’re constantly building, and the answer is again, just reading his keys, trusting what he is looking at and hitting it over and over again so he can play fast,” Ravens outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard said. “Trust his instincts. I talk with Odafe a lot about matching his upper body violence with the violence of his legs.
“He had God-given ability to run, and he can take off. So, working his hands, and all those types of things is a big part of his progression.”New normal
Quarterback Lamar Jackson and kicker Justin Tucker routinely do such freakish things in practice that it’s become the norm.
On one play Tuesday, Jackson rolled to his right, stutter-stepped a defender, changed direction and rolled back to his left. He then threw across his body to the other side of the field for a 20-yard touchdown strike to tight end Mark Andrews.
Minutes later, Tucker kicked a 62-yard field goal that hit the crossbar and fell short. On the next attempt, he made it with about 5-to-10 yards to spare.
Just another day at the office.O-line is deep …
I’ve been to most of the team’s training camp practices and Tuesday was the first time I saw a player — second-year outside linebacker Daelin Hayes — beat guard-tackle Tyre Phillips in a one-on-one pass protection drill.
Phillips has been outstanding, but so was center Trystan Colon on Tuesday as he filled in for injured rookie starter Tyler Linderbaum. He’s not going to supplant the first-round pick out of Iowa, but at least the Ravens have versatility and depth up front.And so is the D-line
Speaking of depth, the defensive line might have the most after the secondary.
The Ravens will start Michael Pierce at nose tackle flanked by Calais Campbell and Justin Madubuike. Rookie Travis Jones will push Pierce for playing time, and Broderick Washington, Isaiah Mack, Brent Urban and Aaron Crawford will be a part of the rotation.
General manager Eric DeCosta has said that you can never have enough cornerbacks, but his predecessor Ozzie Newsome used to subscribe to the theory of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who said you can never have enough defensive linemen.Beware the drops
I’ve been keeping an eye on rookie receiver Shemar Bridges, especially after the strong game he turned in Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans (four catches for 62 yards, one touchdown).
He gets better every day at running routes, especially with one-on-one attention from the assistant coaches, but he still has to keep working on his hand placement and extending his arms while catching the ball.
That T-Rex approach won’t work in the NFL. He’ll see quite a few pass attempts get into his body and bounce off his pads.
As for second-year receiver Rashod Bateman, he dropped more passes than Bridges on Tuesday.Don’t sleep on Steelers
I keep reading all these stories about how the Pittsburgh Steelers might finish last in the AFC North because quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired at the end of last season.
That might be true if the Steelers didn’t have coach Mike Tomlin. He is one of the most competitive and feared coaches in the NFL with a career record of 162-94-2 (.632).
He is like Belichick. Every time you write his teams off, they find a way to win and stay in contention.Return of Joe Cool?
The Ravens should disregard any rumors about New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson playing in the season opener Sept. 11 and prepare for former Ravens starter Joe Flacco.
It makes no sense for the Jets to put a second-year quarterback out there after having recent knee surgery. It’s not worth the risk.
And of course, Flacco was “Joe Cool” about the possibility of playing against his old team of 11 years with whom he won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season. Pro athletes are extremely competitive and Flacco can’t wait to play against his old team.
Will we see the Flacco of old or an old Flacco? He’s 37 years old, so you know the answer, but Flacco will welcome the challenge.Roster report
The Ravens released quarterback Brett Hundley and placed outside linebacker Trent Harris on injured reserve ahead of the NFL’s 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday for 85-man rosters.
Harris was signed Saturday but had to be helped off the field Monday with an apparent injury.
Hundley’s release leaves the Ravens with three quarterbacks: Jackson, Tyler Huntley and undrafted rookie Anthony Brown. Coach John Harbaugh declined to say Monday whether Jackson would play in Sunday’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“Let’s leave that for a couple more days,” he said.
Rookie offensive tackle Daniel Faalele left the field Tuesday under his own power about 75 minutes into practice and did not return. It’s unclear what might’ve caused the fourth-round pick’s departure. Harbaugh, who did not speak Tuesday, is scheduled to address reporters after practice Wednesday.
Tight end Nick Boyle, wide receivers James Proche II (soft tissue) and Tylan Wallace (knee) and Linderbaum (foot) missed practice Tuesday, while offensive tackle David Sharpe and wide receiver Bailey Gaither returned.
Mets starter Carlos Carrasco to miss next three to four weeks with low-grade oblique strain
Mets starter Carlos Carrasco was placed on the 15-day IL due to a low-grade strain in his left oblique. The Mets estimate his recovery timetable to be about three to four weeks.
“Carlos got the test back, it’s actually pretty good news,” Buck Showalter offered optimistically. “Grade 1 (strain), that’s good news. We thought it could have been something a little deeper. We hope it’s not as long as some of those things take, we’ll see.”
Carrasco left Monday’s game after two innings, which were interrupted by a rain delay. On his way into the tunnel after the second, he could be seen grabbing at his oblique.
“I actually look at it as, maybe, an opportunity to freshen him up arm-wise,” Showalter said. “I think he’s exceeded the things that we thought he might do.”
Stephen Nogosek was brought up from Syracuse to replace Carrasco. Nogosek has pitched in nine games for the Mets this season with a 2.30 ERA. Additionally, the Mets made a right-handed reliever swap. Adonis Medina was optioned to Triple-A while R.J. Alvarez was called up. Alvarez last pitched in the big leagues in 2015 with Oakland. He posted a 3.38 ERA and 22.3% strikeout rate in 29 games for Syracuse this year, all of which were out of the bullpen.
In the final roster move of the day, outfielder Nick Plummer was designated for assignment.PLANNING THE ROTATION
Showalter was questioned about David Peterson, who is not technically on the active roster after being optioned to Triple-A on Aug. 6, but is with the team in Atlanta. He seems like the obvious candidate to get called up and take Carrasco’s turns in the rotation, but Showalter said that’s not set in stone.
“I’m not going to commit totally to that. I know we’re going to take Trevor Williams out [of consideration to pitch]. He could probably play short [on Tuesday] if we had to. But we’d really like to get him a good, lengthy work day to set him up to throw more innings. He’s probably going to make one of those starts in the doubleheader [on Saturday in Philadelphia]. We’ll try to manage through that.”
Letters: Stop rodeos | Nuclear safety | Legal standard | Driving inflation
Submit your letter to the editor via this form. Read more Letters to the Editor.Stop rodeos’
cruelty to animals
Thanks to reporter Shomik Mukherjee for his Aug. 14 informative article on the proposed Alameda County rodeo ordinance (“Proposed ban on wild-cow milking threatens rodeos,” Page A1). Note that all animal welfare organizations condemn rodeo due to its inherent cruelty. Even Cesar Chavez was an outspoken critic.
The Board of Supervisors rightfully outlawed the children’s “mutton busting” event in 2019. The current amendments would ban the nonsanctioned, brutal and blatantly sexist “wild cow milking contest.” Also the use of painful devices such as flank straps, spurs and non-release ropes, allowing “breakaway” calf roping only. Worthy goals, all.
Rodeo has little to do with ranching. Working cowboys/girls never routinely rode bulls, wrestled steers, rode bareback, barrel raced or practiced calf roping as a timed event (terrified babies). It’s mostly hype, a macho exercise in domination. It needs to end.
Partial penance: Convert HARD’s Rowell Ranch property into a farm animal sanctuary and education center for Bay Area schoolchildren.
to extend nuclear plants
Re: “Newsom wants nuclear plan open,” Page C7, Aug. 13:
The climate crisis may necessitate the extension of operations of the hundreds of aging nuclear plants in the United States and around the world but before doing so, each plant for consideration should have an independent, thorough and robust safety inspection, especially in the case of Diablo Canyon.
Any serious accident at this plant sited next to two earthquake faults has the potential of poisoning our nation’s Central Valley breadbasket or making surrounding cities “habitat exclusion zones” for hundreds of years – all to gain 5-10 years of “clean energy.”
This is not a small decision as Diablo is now 20 years past its original planned-for operational life. There is no margin for error.
standard as all of us
I’m saddened by David Brooks’ report that the legal, warranted search of the former president’s residence has consolidated Republicans’ support for him (“Did the FBI just reelect Donald Trump?” Page A13, Aug. 14). All citizens, even ex-presidents, must be held accountable for their alleged crimes. Substantial evidence is piling ever higher in Donald Trump’s cases. I’m shocked that Brooks seems to say the FBI and other agents of justice ought to take such political reactions into account when pursuing investigations as required by law.
When Brooks says, “distrust of established power is so virulent that actions by elite actors tend to backfire,” is he labeling the FBI an “elite actor”? That would confirm Republicans’ illegitimate propaganda that bringing Trump to justice is a political ploy of the “deep state,” the “Regime,” or what Brooks labels “the Brahmin class.” The irony of a con artist who wormed his way into elite circles now posing as the defender of non-elites is dangerous when unmentioned.
will exacerbate inflation
Re. “How will historic bill benefit Californians,” Page A1, Aug. 9:
However well-intentioned a national government’s spending program, spending more than you receive – “profligate spending” – from taxes creates disaster. For more than 100 years, economics fundamentals teach that the number one cause of inflation is government simply printing more money, which dilutes the value of all money.
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America’s yearly inflation is now 8.5%; food costs have jumped 10.9%.
Denial of this negative impact puts all Americans at economic risk. Argentina’s government has denied this association for more than a decade; they print huge amounts of their currency. The result: Argentina now has inflation of 70%.
Column: As Roquan Smith’s contract strife with the Chicago Bears drags on, it’s difficult to see how this might end. Or when.
About 45 minutes into Chicago Bears practice Tuesday at Halas Hall, linebacker Roquan Smith walked across Field 3 wearing a navy practice jersey and a white ballcap.
Smith was present for the day’s activities, standing with the defense along the sideline while the rest of his team continued the training camp grind. But for the 15th consecutive practice, Smith was a bystander, a stubborn statue unwilling to break his “hold-in” amid stalled contract negotiations.
After practice, Bears coach Matt Eberflus acknowledged Smith likely will board the team flight to Seattle for Thursday night’s preseason game against the Seahawks. But as the financial joust drags into its fourth week, it’s difficult to predict how this might end. Or when.
The Bears aren’t saying much. Smith remains off limits to reporters. General manager Ryan Poles offered four minutes of irritated thought on Aug. 9, the day Smith used NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport to publish his statement requesting a trade. And Eberflus remains evasive on the soap opera.
“Really I don’t have anything,” he said Tuesday when asked for the latest. “All I can say is that it is where it is right now and we’re day to day. Is he in the building? Yes. Is he engaged? Yes.”
Beyond that, Eberflus declined to say whether the team is disciplining Smith for his refusal to practice while healthy. The outside conjecture is the Bears at least are levying fines against Smith this week. But who really knows?
Eberflus also stressed he feels good about his relationship with Smith and isn’t worried about a potential fracture between arguably his best defensive player and his front-office bosses.
“You’re always working on relationships,” Eberflus said. “And I know I say that a lot. But it’s so important, with Roquan and any other player. It’s important to keep the relationship and communication open and on the table. That’s what we’re trying to do.”‘I don’t see a path back’
It has been more than a week since Smith threatened the civility of the contract talks, tapping out a 348-word missive and sending it to Rapoport. That was a calculated leverage play by Smith to attempt to rally public support by putting his employer on blast in hopes of accelerating his bid for a record-setting deal.
Smith tried to tug on the heartstrings of Bears fans with references to Wilber Marshall, Mike Singletary, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Dick Butkus. He expressed his desire to play the rest of his career in Chicago. Then he accused the Bears of refusing to negotiate in good faith.
“Every step of this journey has been ‘take it or leave it,’” Smith wrote. “I’ve been trying to get something done that’s fair since April, but their focus has been on trying to take advantage of me.”
Just as the sides seemed to be building a bridge across the canyon, Smith lit the guard ropes on fire and publicly postured to be traded.
“As of right now,” he said, “I don’t see a path back to the organization I truly love.”
It was a direct challenge to a new and inexperienced regime that has no track record for resolving such matters. But beyond agitating Poles and his contract team at Halas Hall, it’s hard to know what Smith accomplished with those angry squirts of kerosene onto a fire that had, to that point, been contained.
Now the crackling flames are heard almost daily as Smith’s contract strife hogs the headlines for a team that has so many other things it would rather focus on. On Tuesday, for example, the first seven questions of Eberflus’ post-practice news conference were Roquan-related.
And that’s where this whole ruckus becomes so tricky, especially for Smith, whose leverage at this point isn’t what he probably hoped it would be.
A potential trade? Well, that would require the following:
- Poles and the Bears being willing to deal him.
- Another team heavily interested in acquiring him.
- Said team being prepared to give Smith a lengthy and possibly record-setting contract extension that approaches or surpasses $100 million in total value.
- Said team also being willing to part with significant draft capital to persuade the Bears to detach from a 25-year-old playmaker widely considered to be one of the league’s five or six best inside linebackers.
Through that lens, it’s easy to understand why Poles’ cellphone probably won’t become an auction stage.Deal or no deal?
From the get-go, Poles and Eberflus have talked glowingly of Smith as a player, believing his production only will increase in a new defensive system that takes advantage of his speed and instincts. But the team’s valuation of Smith’s contributions, past and future, hasn’t reached what Smith believes it should be.
It’s well-documented the five-year, $95.2 million deal that San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner signed last summer and the five-year, $98.5 million extension the Indianapolis Colts gave Shaquille Leonard a few weeks later provide a target range for Smith.
But around the league, the consensus remains that Smith isn’t quite in that class as a game-changer. He’s considered to be a shelf below Leonard, Warner and Dallas Cowboys star Micah Parsons and in a class with other off-the-ball linebackers such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Devin White and Lavonte David, the New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis and the Los Angeles Rams’ Bobby Wagner.
That’s not an insult. It’s simply a way to frame how Smith is seen — as a really good player who is pleading to be paid like one of the league’s bigger superstars.
While Smith was a second-team All-Pro the last two seasons, he was ranked No. 84 on NFL Network’s Top 100 overall players list this week.
Even worse for Smith, that sour statement he released last week didn’t bring a stampede of passionate supporters rallying to his defense. Bears fans seem split. Some believe he should be paid every penny he’s asking for, while others see him more as a solid player but not one who will make enough franchise-changing contributions to be worth cleaning out the safe.
Thus the staring contest continues without a whole lot of passion from the audience.Lasting impressions
The view of Smith within many league circles is that of a productive, reliable starter who can be a valuable piece on a championship team but likely won’t be the engine of a Super Bowl run. And that’s a big distinction, like comparing an M-80 to a barrel of TNT.
The sense is that, through four seasons with the Bears, Smith has shown he regularly can make energizing, drive-killing stops but hasn’t shown he is a consistent game-changer. In 61 career games, he has 43 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks but only five interceptions and one forced fumble.
Remember that pick-six Smith had in Week 2 last season to spark a Bears takeaway binge in a 20-17 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals? That was exactly the kind of exclamation point that seemed to validate Smith’s rise.
But beyond that, what are Smith’s signature moments over his first four seasons? His first-half interception of Jared Goff in the Bears’ 2018 statement win over the Rams?
What other moments belong on that ballot? And how impactful were they really?
Perhaps Poles is justified in seeking additional evidence that Smith can be reliable off the field and productive on it. Perhaps the GM’s effort to establish a fair price point is prudent.
Earlier this week, word leaked that Smith has had a representative not certified by the NFL Players Association reach out to other teams to gauge interest in a potential trade — in violation of league policy. That prompted a memo from the NFL office to every team warning against engaging in any kind of contract-related discussion with Smith’s camp. It was another head-scratching twist that hasn’t been a good look for Smith.‘I hope he’s here’
On the whole, Smith’s body of work through four seasons has been worthy of applause. And the Bears should be able to compensate him well, particularly at a time in their building process when they aren’t allocating significant financial resources to their quarterback.
But Smith also hasn’t been Urlacher or Singletary or Butkus. And to be rewarded as one of the highest-paid linebackers in league history, Smith should have more Hall of Fame-worthy flashes to point to when engaged in the back-and-forth with Poles, director of football administration Matt Feinstein and senior vice president Cliff Stein.
In addition, while Smith is considered a respected figure within the Bears locker room, it’s becoming harder to classify him as one of this team’s biggest leaders. Of the 21 other defenders on the two-deep depth chart, 12 never have played a snap with Smith. Thus they don’t have the kind of emotional attachment to his production or his contract fight that might apply added pressure to the front office.
Take starting middle linebacker Nick Morrow, for example. Morrow entered the league in 2017 as an undrafted rookie out of Division III Greenville University and signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Bears this spring after five seasons with the Raiders. Morrow described a cordial relationship with Smith on Tuesday but also didn’t seem to be fretting about when or if Smith will be back on the field beside him.
“One thing I learned about this league, there is no certainty,” Morrow said. “I have no certainty. I have no idea what’s going to happen. But I wish the best for the Bears and obviously him. I hope he’s here. But if he’s not? It is what it is. If he is, great.”
From there, Morrow went on with his day as the minutes until the season opener tick by.
Smith’s trade request last week — “deeply painful” in his words — barely seemed to be echoing.
“I’m deeply sorry it’s come to this,” Smith wrote.
A week later, a less dramatic tune was playing inside Halas Hall.
It is what it is.
That’s the equivalent of a shrug — which seems to be a common reaction to many of the episodes in this miniseries. What now?
Former Rep. TJ Cox indicted on fraud, money laundering charges
By Hannah Rabinowitz | CNN
Former US Rep. TJ Cox, a Democrat from California, has been indicted on federal money laundering and wire fraud charges related in part to campaign donations, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
He was arrested at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Fresno County federal courthouse, according to online records from the county Sheriff’s Office. He is charged with 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud and one count of campaign contribution fraud, according to court documents.
If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering charges, and up to 30 years in prison for the financial institution fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution charges.
Cox has not yet entered a formal plea, and a lawyer representing him is not yet listed on the court’s docket.
Cox, 59 was in Congress representing California’s 21st Congressional District for just one term — January 2019 to January 2021. He was first elected to the seat in 2018, defeating Republican incumbent David Valadao. Cox came to Congress as part of a blue wave in congressional races across the country that led to Democrats taking back the House from Republicans. In 2020, however, Valadao defeated Cox to win back the seat.
Over the course of nearly a decade, Cox created a number of off-the-books bank accounts and lied to receive hefty loans, according to the indictment.
In two instances, Cox allegedly created off-the-book bank accounts and took funds from companies with which he was affiliated. In those schemes, Cox obtained over $1.7 million. In another Cox allegedly lied on an application to obtain a $1.5 million construction loan to develop an area in Fresno.
And in a fourth scheme, Cox allegedly received mortgage loan funds to buy property by submitting fabricated bank statements to the lender, and falsely claiming he intended to make that property his primary residence.
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Cox founded several companies that process nuts, a major export from the Central Valley. He also founded the Central Valley New Market Tax Credit Fund, which raises money for projects in lower income neighborhoods.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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