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13.12.2018 02:40
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New York JetsMICHAEL VICK vs. GENO SMITHOn the precipice of being unshackled from the Mark Sanchez-era in New Jersey, the Jets started the offseason with a surprising lack of drama. They had a new mobile, under-throwing quarterback in Geno Smith, and that seemed about the right fit for Rex Ryans brand of unevenly performing squads. But rather than simply allow their rabid fanbase to groan over Genos inefficiencies for the next half decade, the brass brought in Michael (Ill never forget what you did to those dogs) Vick, another mobile quarterback with question marks, who is a lock to disappoint. So what will they do entering the draft, now that theyve already set up a quarterback controversy? Why, theyll surely draft another competitor. Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Savage are the frontrunners but anyone is possible. Jets GM John Idzik was part of the Seahawks organization when they selected Russell Wilson despite having just anted up significantly for Matt Flynn. It is in the team DNA to further confuse their QB situation. It is going to happen.Miami DolphinsRYAN TANNEHILL vs. HIS OWN O-LINEOutside of Dave Lowrys beard during the 1995-96 Florida Panthers Stanley Cup run, I resent all things Miami (a quick Google search of "Mike Gallay Lebron James" will confirm that claim). Amazingly, I dont hate Tannehill. I think the Fish got it right. Some analysts vary on his long-term ceiling but he looked consistently quality to me when he was getting protection. I should probably say that a little quieter. You do NOT want to piss off his offensive line. Its not that theyre so tough, just really mean and each other. Miami was wise to cut the fiendish, though incredibly well-named, Richie Incognito, and to ship out Jonathan Martin in an effort to defuse the teams reputation as a chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. With protection, Tannehill will produce.Buffalo BillsE.J. MANUEL vs. A CRUEL HISTORYManuel serves to paint us a little recent draft history. The 2013 NFL Draft offered a shallow pool at quarterback and most outlets had Manuel going anywhere from the second to the fifth round. When the Buffalo Bills of Toronto nabbed him with the 16th overall pick, a lot of people shook their heads because, yeah, its the Bills. Despite a knee injury which cost E.J. the last half dozen games, we got a good enough look to observe him appearing jittery and unpolished and like he could develop into a force. Bills fans can start to put Ryan Fitzpatricks $59 million WTF contract behind them and start the healing. Well, its Buffalo, so dont expect a full recovery. Baby steps.AFC NORTHCincinnati BengalsROCK vs. ANDY DALTON vs. HARD PLACEWhen I was seven I was obsessed with comics. Also when I was nine and fourteen and twenty-six. Marvel in particular was my jam, and I loved The Hulk. He would frequently face off against The Abomination or The Rhino, sometimes both. In those circumstances when the three were battling, The Hulk would have to figure out how to win when "an unstoppable force meets an immovable object." Usually the solution involved getting the two of them to smash into each other. An unstoppable force and an immovable object. That is the Bengals conundrum. They have quarterback Andy Dalton, a totally credible NFL quarterback with enough skills to tantalize and enough deficiencies to derail. If they stick with him, no question they can make a few more postseason bids. Also, if they stick with him, they are unlikely to ever win a Super Bowl. An unstoppable force and an immovable object.Pittsburgh SteelersBEN ROETHLISBERGER vs. BEN ROETHLISBERGERMy wife is a Steelers fan and as such I wanted to title this section THE STATE vs. B. ROETHLISBERGER, but really, I dont need to keep bringing up his sexual assault charges in 2008. Or his other sexual assault charges in 2010. Im just gonna say this: Big Ben is a championship quarterback, who eludes defenders better than anyone in the game, and eludes prosecutors even better! Ba-dum! (In the next team blurb youll realize why Im so pleased with myself.) Ben announced this week his intention to play until 2020 so doubtful the Steelers draft a backup or a project, since they have 2013s fourth round pick Landry Jones on the roster.Baltimore RavensJOE FLACCO vs. THE SALARY CAPI am a Baltimore Ravens fan. Have been since 1998. It started off as a natural extension of being a man without a home team with an affinity for Edgar Allan Poe, and has sprouted into full-on obsession. After the Ravens latest Super Bowl win, I spent the next four months watching the NFL Network. It was Ravens porn. Based on hundreds of hours spent reliving Super Bowl XLVII, I am positive Jacoby Jones should have been named MVP, though Flacco was an understandable choice. I cant say Im as sold on Joe Cool as Ozzie Newsome clearly is, but hes a proven winner and I suspect Gary Kubiak may be capable of finding more nuance to Flaccos all or nothing approach. Baltimore brass cant afford to tinker at the QB position, given their at-the-time record setting investment in Joe, but there have been rumblings about bringing in more competition for the backup spot, so a late selection of an Aaron Murray-type is possible (Murrays stock is likely rising too much for him to wind up in Maryland). Who they ultimately draft into competition is still a mystery. The only thing Im positive about in Baltimore is they will win the Super Bowl this year and for like the next fifteen years also.Cleveland BrownsTHEIR IST ROUND PICK vs. THEIR OTHER 1ST ROUND PICKFor the Browns, quarterback is a "when" not "if" situation, with Brian Hoyer penciled in at starter. Theyve had a ton of swing and misses since the reboot of the franchise. Tim Couch in 99. Luke McCown in 04. Charlie Frye in 05. Brady Quinn in 07. Colt McCoy in 10. Brandon Weeden in 12. They have to get it right this time. They signed Vince Young last week more as a favour to help with his bankruptcy than because hes the answer. Johnny Manziel is the hot commodity in the draft, the siren song, the razzle which tends to lure moribund franchises like Cleveland, desperate to make a national splash. We will shortly find out what new management is made of. They almost have to take a quarterback on Day One. My bet is they wait until their late first rounder to nab the formerly buzziest pick, Teddy Bridgewater.AFC SOUTHIndianapolis ColtsANDREW LUCK vs. NOBODYThe Colts are set for the next decade. Luck gives congratulatory pats to marauding defensive ends after receiving blistering sacks, all the while complimenting them on the hit. How do you compete with that? He is tough and skilled, even-tempered and a winner. As a Baltimore fan, only thing left to say is, "Screw the Colts." Indy may draft a QB in the seventh round if Luck needs a personal assistant.Tennessee TitansJAKE LOCKER vs. HIS SHOULDERS, HIP & RIGHT FOOTWith the eighth pick of the draft, the Titans select...Jake Locker. Flashbulbs! The audience stirs. Analysts rush to review their notes. It was a promising time. Jeff Fisher was still the coach. Veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck was still the most famous person in the family. But it hasnt worked out. Im not convinced the Titans would have found more success drafting Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton, but Locker has played in fewer than half of their games in three seasons, and thats gonna come to an end at this years eleventh pick. The former face of the franchise, Chris Johnson—CJ2K—is now a Jet, and Titans faithful need someone to believe in. Elvis sightings can only take a football fan so far. Tennessee is drafting a QB at 11.Jacksonville JaguarsJOHNNY MANZIEL vs. TARPS COVERING THE SEATSJacksonville needs a star. They need a player with buzz, someone who puts asses into club seats. The Jags are consistently the first franchise mentioned whenever another city sniffs around for a relocation project, and they have the smallest market in the league. Finally, they have a rising nucleus of talent and a third overall selection. For a team without a rich history of success, theyve demonstrated surprising consistency at QB, with five guys—Mark Brunell, Byron Leftwich, David Garrard, Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne—starting 93% of all Jaguars games, ever. They will be adding a sixth name to that list this year. If it isnt Johnny Football, it is likely to be Derek Carr or David Fales. Or Mark Brunell.Houston TexansTHE #1 PICK vs. NO CLEAR #1 QUARTERBACK IN THE DRAFTThe Houston Texans will be drafting first overall. The Houston Texans will be drafting Jadeveon Clowney. The Houston Texans will be drafting Khalil Mack. The Houston Texans will be drafting Johnny Manziel. The Houston Texans will be drafting Teddy Bridgewater. The Houston Texans will be drafting first overall.There. Its settled.AFC WESTDenver BroncosPEYTON MANNING vs. WINTERPeyton is the greatest regular season quarterback of all time. Most passing yards in a season. Highest QB rating in a season. Most touchdown passes in a season. We can fumble over a couple other names but hes at worst "as good as it gets". More likely, hes the yardstick going forward. But a little something happens on the way to the postseason. It gets cold. Old bones get brittle. Despite a passable record in cold weather and late-season games on paper, the eye test tells a different story. Maybe Mannings approach can have rare in-game faults, though full-season successes, like the Moneyball philosophy in baseball suffers. I dunno. Whatever it is, hes the NFL-equivalent of the 117-year-old Japanese man we query about diet and philosophy and Colorado fans should enjoy what may be his last hurrah. The Broncos know its winding down for their chiropractic miracle, and they are throwing every measure of multi-positional support his way. They wont be major players on the QB market unless a gift falls in their lap (though theyll be wary of controversial QB picks— see Tebow, Jesus). A cold wind is blowing. It says Spring only on the calendar.Kansas City ChiefsALEX SMITH vs. SHMOLIN SHMAEPERNICKIts hard to feel pathos for a multi-millionaire quarterback selected first overall, with a gorgeous wife in a Pro Bowl year. But I do. For every Peyton Manning theres a JaMarcus Russell. Smith was trending towards the latter when in 2011, he and the 49ers, took a turn towards greatness. He led them within inches of the Super Bowl. In 2012, amidst his greatest statistical season, he suffered a concussion and was replaced by backup Colin Kaepernick. He would only miss one game, but he would never start in the Bay again. Reborn in Kansas City, he and head coach Andy Reid turned around a 2-14 team, winning their first nine games, and made the playoffs. Youd think his future in Kansas would be a slam dunk, that Alex would be re-signed long term and everyone would enjoy a loaf of Brett, a slice of Biancalana and a pound of Balboni. Instead, Smith and the Chiefs are far apart in negotiations and the team is considering a QB with their first pick. Once again, Smith is looking over his shoulder to see which tattooed menace might be coming for his job. Stay healthy, Smitty. It just takes one game.San Diego ChargersPHILIP RIVERS vs. HIS MOUTHPhil Rivers is known for a lot of things. Not missing a game since 2006, the fourth longest streak of all time. Getting traded for Eli Manning in an epic first round swap as a rookie. Being a rock-steady fantasy football contributor for several seasons. Mostly, Rivers is known as one of the most notorious trash talkers in the NFL. Opposing defences revile him. Jay Cutler doesnt like him.He is ultra-competitive and the most video-captured whiner in the game. Yet, I have found, if you dig deeper, hes just misunderstood. Rumour is he has NEVER cursed. Im not sh***ing you. Time to forget everything you thought you knew about Phil Rivers. This is who he actually is. Stay classy, San Diego.Oakland RaidersMATT SCHAUB vs. COMMON SENSEThe Raiders are an exceptional organization. At one point legendary owner Al Davis (RIP) oversaw the silver and black to five Super Bowl championships over four decades. Now, they havent had a winning season in eleven years, longest streak in the league (even the Browns and Bills had winning seasons in that span). You would need Nate Silver and the computer from War Games to make sense of their roster. I heart the acquisition of Matt Schaub, a quarterback who has had success, but his best days are quite clearly in the past, as all sensory input from last year would lead you to believe he is not very good at quarterbacking. Translation: he was meant to be a Raider. Will undrafted surprise Matt McGloin upstage him? Will Oakland draft Teddy Bridgewater in the first round? Will they draft a QB at all? Will they wind up retiring Schaubs number? Will Al Davis return from the dead, looking oddly similar as he did when alive, ready to coach? The Raiders are an exceptional organization.NFC EASTPhiladelphia EaglesNICK FOLES vs. INERTIAIsaac Newtons first law of motion does not apply to Nick Foles. It didnt matter how much pressure was thrown at him, he did not break and he did not falter. He was so good the Eagles dumped Michael Vick and were willing to make Mark Sanchez their backup in 2014. Thats confidence. In Chip Kellys hyper-tempo offensive scheme, Foles proceeded to set the record for best ever touchdown (27) to interception (2) ratio in NFL history. What the what? He threw for seven touchdowns in one game! Foles serves as an outlier, less for us to gain insight into the Eagles scattershot offence, but more that we might get excited about the upcoming draft, where a late third round pick without a clear path to a starting job could become a Pro Bowler real fast-like.Dallas CowboysTONY ROMO vs. PERCEPTIONESPN analyst Chris Mortensen warmly quoted Cowboys owner Jerry Jones this week:"We were 8-8 (in 2013) and people still love us and we make a lot of money!"Alllllllrighty, then. You can watch his entire conversation. It tells you what you need to know about Dallas.Unfortunately for Tony Romo, because hes lost some heartbreakers, and because the team around him is poorly constructed, and because he has an albatross, uncuttable contract, hes the villain. Fact: hes sixth among active QBs in fourth quarter comebacks. Perception isnt truth with Romo, but the Dallas lights are blinding. Jones might not draft a QB for three more years or might trade up to take Johnny Manziel in the first round. I have no idea.Washington RedskinsROBERT GRIFFIN III vs. MEDICAL SCIENCETechnically, we could discuss how the District of Columbia Football Team has a lopsided battle at quarterback between superstar Griffin and the decent, if expendable, Kirk Cousins. Ho-hum. More interestingly, D.C. has to worry about Griffins persistent battle with not lying on a gurney.Washington cant draft a quarterback out of sheer pride, having sent several picks to the Rams to nab RGIII, but the science is hardly settled on whether he can stand the rigours of the league. They better hope medical science wins this battle because Griffin has not proven he can protect himself. There are many a YouTube link to prove this, if your stomach is settled.New York GiantsELI MANNING vs. COMPLACENCY(h/t Manning, the Bret Saberhagen of football (I should probably update this reference to Tim Lincecum). Could lead his team to a championship, could get his coach fired by October. Hes 33. Coming off ankle surgery and a subpar season. His O-line is shaky, having been sacked a career high 39 times. When big brother Peyton went down with major spinal injuries in 2011 I never thought Id ask: Will Eli be the first Manning out of football? He doesnt have anything left to prove with two rings and nine figures banked. If he doesnt bounce back this year, I wouldnt be surprised to see him consider retirement. Josh Freeman is a stop-gap for New York, and the team wants to groom the franchise guy. Apparently last years fourth rounder, Ryan Nassib is just depth chart fodder. I could see GM Jerry Reese stoking the flames of competition.NFC NORTH Green Bay PackersAARON RODGERS vs. THE WORLDThere is no quarterback controversy in Green Bay. Former Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers uses his unassuming charms to rally the Wisconsin faithful and does so with aplomb. If theres one battle Rodgers consistently faces, and sometimes loses, it is wrestling with the enormous chip on his shoulder. Ever since he slipped to 24th in the 2005 draft, he has been angry. Bruised. Slighted. Theres even a Twitter account dedicated to his ego. He was featured in a reverential portrayal on 60 Minutes...then felt dissed. His championship belt-celebration dance (AKA the Discount double check) is the height of lame self-congratulations (though so are many TD celebrations). He resents people talking about his lack of toughness. Or his lack of height, even though he is 62. I dont know how many other ways to euphemistically call one of the greatest players of his generation a probable a**hole. Maybe the team should draft Teddy Bridgewater just to keep him motivated (being slighted seems to encourage him).Chicago BearsJAY CUTLER vs. A GUY INTERESTED IN PLAYING FOOTBALLHave you ever seen the Bravo show, "Million Dollar Listing"? Theres a guy who stars on it, one of the Hollywood realtors—Josh Flagg—hes a little greasy a little charming, and hes pretty much exactly what I figure Jay Cutler must be like. A sweatpants and midday naps sorta fella unless he absolutely HAS to get to work. And work Jay will, since hes signed to a freshly-inked, monster contract, and the Bears shipped Josh McCown out of town. Im just not convinced he likes football that much. Seems more like a hacky sack type, you know?(h/t LionsMATTHEW STAFFORD vs. HIS SHOULDER FALLING OFFIf youre a fan of smashmouth football and you spend any time observing the current version of the NFL, youre going to suffer some irritated moments. The game has changed. Running and defence and special teams have been marginalized. Today, the quarterback reigns supreme (and the rulebook has seen to it—a development I call the Matthew Stafford corollary, but more on that right now). Yes, I recycled the intro. It was not just metaphoric philosophizing, it was specifically about Matthew Stafford. He is everything that annoys me in the NFL. He holds the record for the most passing attempts in a season. He also threw for 5,038 yards in 2011 and 4,967 yards in 2012, a year the Lions went 4-12. Prior to 2011, THOSE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE THIRD AND FOURTH MOST YARDS EVER THROWN. More than Brett Favre or Kurt Warner or Dan Fouts or Peyton Manning (to that point). Stafford is the embodiment of the danger the NFL is in if it keeps promoting passing and scoring at all costs: guys like Stafford are going to make the Hall of Fame and never have had an actual great season.Minnesota VikingsMATT CASSEL vs. BLAKE BORTLESIve been watching a lot of the FX show Fargo lately. Whenever I see the words "Minnesota" or "Billy Bob" in print, I immediately descend into a regional accent. The words "Blake Bortles" sound like they deserve to be interpreted by the Minnesotan patois. Matt Cassel already has the look of a career stopgap, so you know the Vikes are hungry to get the next man up. Norv Turner is the new OC in town, and with Teddy Bridgewaters stock falling, and Minnesota desperate for a marquee name to hand off to Adrian Peterson, Bortles could be the man. (Notice, I did not mention Christian Ponder in this entire paragraph. Well, most of the paragraph. Damn it.)NFC SOUTHCarolina PanthersCAM NEWTON vs. STATISTICSIf you go by the numbers, Newton hasnt lived up to the hype—hes far exceeded it. He won a national championship in college and the Heisman trophy. He was selected first overall. In 2011, he had the greatest rookie season by a quarterback ever (he became the first rookie QB to surpass 4,000 yards passing while scoring a record 35 TDs). In 2013, he showed growth and maturity, culminating in a division win. A great start to a career. Surely there is more mountain to climb...maybe. The Panthers will have him under centre for the next decade and, uh, itll be fine, hell put up crazy numbers, but, well, I just dont know if he can win it all. His statistics might be half-truths. Despite a few game-winning drives in the first half of the season, he looked panicky near the end, and was sacked a career-high 43 times (5th in the NFL). I should probably quit doubting Cam, hes loaded with talent and hes disproved doubters every time. The smart money is likely on him finding a way to improve. Plus he starred in one of my all-time favourite NFL commercials:New Orleans SaintsDREW BREES vs. THE RECORD BOOKIn recent days, insiders have alluded to the Saints considering a Green Bay-style strategy, harkening back to when the Pack drafted Aaron Rodgers in the first round while still having Brett Favre at the helm. These whispers arose last year at draft time too. Now Derek Carr, Zach Mettenberger and A.J. McCarron have all been mentioned as targets. Ahem. And now for the number of quarterbacks drafted by the New Orleans Saints during the Drew Brees era:2013: 0 2012: 0 2011: 0 2010: 7th round - Sean Canfield. Never took a snap. 2009: 0 2008: 0 2007: 0 2006: 0Consider the above list a visual representation for "job security".Atlanta FalconsMATT RYAN vs. DOMINIQUE DAVISWhen an athlete named Dominique comes to Atlanta I take notice. Dominique Davis looks to push incumbe—okay, I cant do this. Theres clearly no quarterback controversy in Atlanta—theres barely a second option. I just like talking about Atlanta athletes named Dominique. Im going to use my remaining time here to engage in a practice I perform every day, which is to celebrate my favourite basketball player of all time, Georgias roundball son, the human highlight reel, Dominique Wilkins (AKA the best in-game dunker of all time). Enjoy.Tampa Bay BuccaneersJOSH MCCOWN vs. MIKE GLENNONWord broke this week Tampa Bay is shopping last years starter, Mike Glennon, for a second round pick. Even the crickets sat this one out. A few teams are prospective landing spots for the lankiest, milkiest, least NFL-looking guy in the league. including New England, where Billy Belichick praised Glennon recently. With McCown in Central Florida, ready to set fire to a season of ho-hum Sundays, the Bucs are ripe for turnover under centre. Theres something familiar about this scenario. Tampa looks a little like Kansas City did last year: roster full of pros who underperformed get a new coach, a consistent/unspectacular veteran at QB, and a good draft could push them into playoff contention. At #7 they could go Johnny Football for the crowd factor (a concern for both small-market Florida teams) or Blake Bortles for a guy they could develop. In a deep draft for good QBs—not great ones—decent chance they dont pick a thrower until a later round.NFC WEST Seattle SeahawksRUSSELL WILSON vs. THE LIZARDSDuh-duh. Duh-duh. Wiiiiiiilssooooonn. Unless youre familiar with the Phish-verse known as "Gamehenge" where the evil king Wilson battles the Lizards, this sentence hasnt meant much. In the greatest pairing of professional sports to nitrous oxide since Bill Walton and his collection of Grateful Dead tees, the first appearance of Russell Wilson at every home game is cued by the first four notes of the Phish song "Wilson", and the crowd responds in call-and-answer fashion with a long cheer of his last name. Thats about the only quarterback battle in Washington State right now. King Wilson versus psychotropic lizards. When you are young, composed, talented, and youve already won a Super Bowl, nobody looks over your shoulder, no matter how undersized you may be. If Wilson ever goes down and the team needs to fill the leadership void, Richard Shermans Twitter account could sub in.San Francisco 49ersCOLIN KAEPERNICK vs. THE INELUCTABLE HITAs a tireless Ravens advocate, I do not like the San Francisco 49ers. I was pleased when they lost the Super Bowl, and am happy they have come up short for three straight years (despite being talent rich and possessing one of my Gallay All-Timers in receiver Anquan Boldin). But even Im impressed with Kaepernicks skills. Incredible speed. Nimble. Laser arm. Oh, but that hubris. It has its own helmet. He increasingly stayed in the pocket in 2013—a sign of maturity—but when he does break one off, because of his confidence and size he rarely protects himself. Hes still young and rubber-boned, and the hits dont phase him. But The Hit is coming. And its going to cost him 6-8 weeks, maybe a year. Bay Area brass have to recognize it, so I dont see how the Niners avoid drafting a quarterback (also, they have fifty draft picks). San Jose States David Fales has been linked to Harbaugh (thats the evil Harbaugh for those scoring at home).Arizona CardinalsCARSON PALMER vs. THE GHOST OF KURT WARNER PASTSports fans dont speak of the nomadic Cardinals in the same sacred breath as the Maple Leafs or Cubs because they arent loveable hometown losers, having been kicked around from Chicago to St. Louis to Phoenix. But make no mistake—they are losers. At 67 years, the franchise suffers from the longest championship drought in the NFL. Burdened with 2013s toughest division, 33-year-old QB Carson Palmer did yeomans work in his first year out of the AFC, registering a personal best 4,274 passing yards. Flashback: In the mid-2000s, then 33-year-old Kurt Warner set the quarterback reclamation standard for the Cardinals, leading to the teams lone Super Bowl appearance in 2008. Dont expect Palmer to do likewise (or as well as last year). Today the talk around Phoenix—beyond the chorus to build a taller border wall—has the team drafting defence first, with minor rumblings about Fresno State QB Derek Carr. Its possible they trade for Mike Glennon or grab a buzzier QB prospect in the first round (head coach Bruce Arians is a known quarterback whisperer), but likely they lay back, go with Palmer, and think of England. This may come as a disappointment to the franchises dozens of fans.St. Louis RamsSAM BRADFORD vs. RG IIITo discuss quarterbacks and the St. Louis Rams is to speak in hushed tones, glancing furtively. Nobody really knows what to make of the most significant trade in Rams history, even two years later. Break it down, and theres no way St. Louis didnt come out on top, trading their second overall selection in the 2012 draft to Washington, to move back just four spots so the Redskins (um, District of Columbia Football Team) could draft the hugely talented but chronically injured Robert Griffin. The Rams have a strong team defence, have taken four receivers in the past two years, have reaped five starters from that monumental trade...but still the talk goes back to quarterback. Thats because Sam Bradford, the Rams 2010 first overall pick, has been consistently hurt or ineffective (and now overpaid). One year of RG III tearing it up and nobody will care how many starters St. Louis yielded in The Trade. Perhaps that is why, despite St. Louis dire need and Greg Robinsons tremendous ability to fill a void at offensive tackle, I have this minor piece of information to share with you. BREAKING NEWS: Johnny Manziel Alert. The Rams, like every other team in the NFL, are now being linked to "Ramziel". (In a related story, Sam Bradford has been watching the NFL Network. A lot. For more than just Molly Qerim sightings.)GALLAYS POLL #9How did you make it this far down the page?(A) My scroll button got stuck.(B) I wanted to work out my wrist in a different way than I usually do online.(C) I read every word, Mike...after losing a bet. Doug McDermott Jersey . The Extreme Heat Policy was enacted at Melbourne Park just before 2 p.m. Thursday, suspending all matches on outer courts until the early evening and requiring the closure of the retractable roofs at Rod Laver and Hisense arenas before play could continue on the show courts. Mark Jackson Jersey . Braden Calverts Winnipeg rink rallied to defeat Italy 8-7. After giving up three points in the second end, Calvert came back with a single, then stole two more points in the next two ends to tie it up at the fifth-end break. On Thursday theyll learn even more. Despite the cloud of uncertainty that has followed them around from the moment general manager Masai Ujiri was brought in to put his stamp on the franchise, the Raptors have surpassed all pre-season expectations. Domantas Sabonis Jersey . Louis, MO (SportsNetwork. Joe Young Jersey . And theyre pointing to the NHLs biggest market: Toronto. With Gretzky paid out for what is believed to be $7 to 8 million, Gretzky may be eager to get back into the NHL and TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reports that the Maple Leafs are very much interested in The Great Ones services. BALTIMORE -- It seemed like every time the Baltimore Orioles were poised to score, the Chicago White Sox would squelch the threat -- two outs at a time. The Orioles hit into four double plays Tuesday night, including the game-ender in a 4-2 defeat. Jose Quintana (4-7) allowed only one run in seven innings for the White Sox, but the left-hander and three relievers benefited greatly from Baltimores lack of clutch hitting. The Orioles stranded seven and went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. "We squared up a couple balls early," manager Buck Showalter said. "But there wasnt a lot of good contact off (Quintana). Not real comfortable at-bats." Quintana (4-7) gave up six hits -- including a solo homer by Steve Pearce -- struck out eight and walked three. The left-hander was 0-3 in four starts since May 26. Nick Markakis, who went 0 for 4 against Quintana with two strikeouts, said, "Hes a guy that short arms the ball and the ball jumps out of his hand. It is tough to get in a rhythm when you dont see the ball behind his back and he short arms it with good velocity." One night after blowing a ninth-inning lead in the series opener, White Sox closer Ronald Belisario entered in the ninth with no outs and a runner on first. He allowed a pinch-hit RBI single to Delmon Young before getting pinch-hitter Ryan Flaherty to bounce into a double play. Belisarios eighth save sealed a much-needed victory for the White Sox, who had lost five in a row overall and eight straight on the road. "When you have the opportunity, you have to win those games," Chicago left fielder Alejandro De Aza said. "We have to enjoy it because it doesnt happen very often." Miguel Gonzalez (4-5) yielded three runs and a career-high tying nine hits in five innings for Baltimore. It was his second start since returning from a 17-day stint on the disabled list with a strained right oblique, and like the last one, he failed to get into the sixth inning. "Bent but didnt break. Kept us engaged in the gamme.dddddddddddd. Gave us some chances," Showalter said. "His command was off from what weve come to expect. He fought his way through five innings." Two batters into the game, Gonzalez and the Orioles fell behind for good when Gordon Beckham drove a fastball into the seats in left field for his seventh home run. Chicago added a run in the second when Ramirez doubled and scored on a single by De Aza. The inning ended with a poorly executed double steal in which De Aza was nailed at the plate after getting a late start from third base. Three straight two-out singles, the last by Tyler Flowers, made it 3-0 in the fourth. The White Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth before Alexei Ramirez hit a popup and Dayan Viciedo bounced into a double play. After Pearce homered leading off the sixth, Adam Jones doubled. But Quintana struck out Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis before retiring J.J. Hardy on a fly to right. Chicago got an unearned run in the eighth. Ramirez singled, stole second, advanced on a passed ball and deftly avoided the tag at the plate by Caleb Joseph on a grounder by De Aza. "I have to give him a lane to slide into if I dont have the ball, but as soon as I have the ball Im free to make the tag," Joseph said. "So, I had the ball in plenty of time and just wasnt aggressive with it." NOTES: Orioles 3B Manny Machado will have a hearing Wednesday on his appeal of a five-game suspension for intentionally throwing a bat on the field. ... White Sox manager Robin Ventura says RHP Scott Carroll will start Thursday in Toronto. He replaces Andre Rienzo, who has been relegated to the bullpen after losing five straight starts and yielding 17 runs in his last three outings. ... Baltimore RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, 0-6 with a 6.38 ERA at home, takes the mound Wednesday in the series finale against Chicago RHP Hector Noesi. ... Chicagos Adam Eaton walked twice and singled. 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