Is this the year the Mets’ Fab 5 finally stays healthy?

From the far end of the clubhouse, David Wright gazed across the room at the side-by-side lockers of the men who will determine the fate of the 2017 New York Mets:

If those five names form the best starting rotation in the National League from start to finish this season, we’ll be seeing the Mets in another World Series telecast. If those five names spend more time in Dr. David Altchek’s office than they do on the mound, well, never mind.

According to a new forecast we’re calling MiPS (Metropolitans Projection System), the team from Queens will be healthy — and hard to beat — next season. You only have to take their word for it.

If that 50-word burst of pithy analysis comes as a shock to the Yoenis Cespedes Fan Club, just listen to the only man in the room who has worn a Mets uniform for the past 14 seasons.

“You could ask anybody in here, ‘What’s this team based off of?'” Wright said. “And the answer would be, ‘It’s our starting pitching that we’re built around.’ And that’s no knock on our offense, our bullpen, our defense or anything else. But when I think of, ‘Whose back can you jump on to get us to where we want to go?’ I don’t think there’s any question: It’s our starting pitching.”

“I didn’t realize how many fans we had around the country,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (right) said. “I got a sense of that this year.”

The front office hopes this isn’t a one-and-done feeling. Could a new generation of Cubs fans avoid going through life as lovable losers?
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Torey Krug Kids Jersey “After a World Series, you either get complacent or get even hungrier now that you’ve tasted it,” Epstein said. “There’s no real in-between. I never doubted it for a second: They will be extremely hungry.”

Why coaches sign way better recruiting classes in Year 2

We’ll get to see if Muschamp can build on this in one of the most interesting recruiting landscapes in the country, the SEC East.

The Gamecocks have some good recruiters on staff, but where do you slot them in the division’s recruiting ecosystem? If Georgia keeps up this pace (which is absolutely lapping the division, by the way) and Florida recruits to its elite potential, there’s no hope to catch either of those teams consistently in recruiting.

Tennessee is an interesting benchmark for South Carolina to shoot for on the division’s second recruiting tier. The Vols shocked us all with two top-10 recruiting classes in Butch Jones’ first two full cycles. But now they’ve come back down to earth with the No. 14 class in 2016 and No. 17 class in 2017. South Carolina ranked No. 21 in 2016 and No. 25 in 2017. If the Vols are sliding, the Gamecocks could catch them.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t unfathomably terrible for a single team to lose one of its best pitchers every year.

Every danged year, y’all. The only things the Cardinals can count on are a) being good and b) losing a pitcher they’re counting on.

How far back does this stretch? This is year seven. A recount:

Helped stabilize the post-Carpenter rotation, throwing 20 starts with a 2.97 FIP. He made just one start in the 2012 NLDS before being shut down for the year.

In 2012, originally (see above), but he came back and made a few starts before tearing up his shoulder in May. This is the weakest entry of the bunch, as there were reasons to expect an injury, and it didn’t come right when Cardinals fans had an inordinate amount of preseason expectations and hope. But it still stung.

Michael Wacha emerged from the draft on a flaming motorcycle and drove straight to Busch Stadium. Metaphorically. He stopped off for a hamburger along the way, but he didn’t dilly-dally.

Rudolph and the project’s architects asked for the input of patients such Casey O’Brien

“Through the course of a five-, 10-, 15-month stay in the hospital, the hours and days and months go by. At times, these people don’t leave their rooms — not because they’re not healthy enough. There’s just nothing else for them to do. You can only play with video games for so long. You can only sit and do puzzles and color coloring books [for so long]. At some point, these kids want to be real kids. We wanted to provide a space for them where, no matter what their situation or circumstance is, they can come down here and be kids.”

Rudolph and the project’s architects asked for the input of patients such Casey O’Brien, the former quarterback at Cretin-Derham Hall High School (St. Paul, Minnesota) who spent more than 160 nights in the hospital during two bouts with bone cancer before he was cleared to return to his team and hold for extra points last season.
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Perfect attendance is nearly impossible in the injury-ravaged, ever-specialized NFL. Even if a player stays healthy, chances are high that he will be taken off the field at some point as coaches employ situational strategies.

So it’s worth noting the relative handful of players who cut through those obstacles and were on the field for every snap for their side of the ball that their teams took during the 2016 regular season. For the most part, they come from positions that are not often subject to rotation: offensive line and quarterback.

A total of 34 players accomplished perfect attendance this season, including 26 offensive linemen. The achievement requires health, skill and some luck as well. Dozens more played all but a few of their teams’ snaps, felled only by a quick health check, equipment issue or late-game replacement.
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Below are the regular-season snap totals for the eight players who are not offensive linemen; the O-linemen’s totals are in the chart. The listed ages are as of Week 17.

He had his chance to have Romo for the present and Prescott for the future.

Schaub told me last week he wants an opportunity to start in the NFL once again. The chances of him doing so in Atlanta are slim to none, with reigning MVP Matt Ryan going nowhere for “many, many, many” years, as general manager Thomas Dimitroff put it. ESPN’s Adam Schefter previously reported Schaub could be headed to San Francisco to reunite with new 49ers head coach and former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Schaub, 35, could help Shanahan buy some time before finding the franchise QB of the future.

But now Jones is facing a tough personal decision, because of his fondness for Romo.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere Game Jersey He had his chance to have Romo for the present and Prescott for the future.
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Now he will have to see Romo in another uniform and remember what Jones said on 105.3 The Fan after the Cowboys lost to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round:

“I really believe that Tony Romo will play in a Super Bowl,” Jones said. “Now try that one on. I know that if he’s healthy enough, he’ll be in a Super Bowl. I strongly believe that.”

It just won’t be for the Cowboys.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on record as wanting to improve quarterback depth behind Ben Roethlisberger. They have resources to do just that, and they don’t have to use the NFL draft — at least not yet.

Re-signing Landry Jones is a possibility, but if the team opts for a seasoned backup while grooming a draft pick over the next two to three years, there’s enough help available.

The Vegas Golden Knights are swimming in an unprecedented NHL expansion coaching pool

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee is staring down one of the most unprecedented positions in NHL history. With the Bruins firing head coach Claude Julien unexpectedly on Tuesday morning, the Golden Knights¡¯ coaching pool just expanded to yet another big name.

Derek Roy Limited Jersey Here¡¯s a quick refresher of the coaches fired this year that are no doubt, 100 percent on Vegas¡¯ radar:

That¡¯s four NHL head coaches that have won a combined two Stanley Cups in their coaching careers. Between them, they¡¯ve led their teams to the playoffs 26 times in 38 full seasons.
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To put it plainly, McPhee and Vegas have the pick of the head coaching litter.

99.9% of the Boston sports world (which, admittedly, isn¡¯t the only place Bruins fans come from) is paying no attention to the goings-on on Causeway Street this morning.

98.5 The Sports Hub isn¡¯t going to break into their parade coverage to discuss the Julien move.

WCVB and NESN aren¡¯t going to pack up their crews and move from Boylston Street over to the Garden.

WEEI isn¡¯t going to call off its radio hits to get reaction from the players.

While it¡¯s entirely possible that this is a coincidence, it¡¯s pretty unlikely.

The Bruins could have fired Julien tomorrow, with no games scheduled until Thursday. They could have fired Julien this evening, after the day¡¯s festivities had ended.

Hell, they could have, you know, not fired Julien at all, instead choosing to view it as a mix of bad luck (being at the bottom of the PDO barrel usually isn¡¯t a recipe for team success) and woefully poor shooting.

Durant’s skill set might include everything but screening

Authentic Womens Justin Faulk USA Jersey The roadblock likely has something to do with how rarely Durant acts as, well, a roadblock. Durant’s skill set might include everything but screening, an underappreciated if often ignored aspect of basketball. While Green relishes pursuing defenders like a linebacker and cutting off the right angles, Durant almost never so much as grazes his mark. Often that’s intentional strategy, as Durant prefers slipping his screens, running away before defenders decide on what to do. But he likely has to start making contact for this to be a viable play under pressure.

It’s key to making the Warriors’ crunch time function, as they often move from a motion offense to a deliberate pick-and-roll attack late in games.

Authentic Womens Iman Shumpert Jersey “Late in games, holds and grabs aren’t going to be called, and that’s not an indictment of referees,” Kerr explained of the strategic shift. “Look at the last play of the Cleveland game on Christmas. League comes out, and says, ‘Oh yeah, he got tripped.’ If that’s in the middle of the game, they call that. If that’s at the end of the game, they don’t. There’s not as much freedom of movement late in games.”

Years of failing to build infrastructure around quarterback Andrew Luck have caught up in consecutive 8-8 finishes despite playing in the weak AFC South. That failure cost general manager Ryan Grigson his job, but coach Chuck Pagano appears set to return for at least one more season. Colts quarterbacks were pressured on 34.6 percent of their dropbacks, tied for second most in the NFL this season. It takes a while to overhaul an offensive line, and Luck already is approaching his 28th birthday.

New general manager Chris Ballard has a strong reputation as an evaluator, which provides optimism that he can accelerate the process of rebuilding the Colts’ line and finding Luck more playmakers. Ballard should have about $50 million in cap space to work with, and he’ll need to spend some of it on defense, particularly on the edge and in the secondary.

Morrison is pessimistic that any of the civil suits will have much effect

Remarkably, the gamers seem to be as popular as ever. Cassell still has nearly 10 million YouTube followers. And Martin filmed himself in November going on a vacation to South Beach in Miami, where he rented a gaudy penthouse with his girlfriend. “I feel like we went a little overboard,” he said gleefully in the video message, panning around the spread. “But I feel like overboard is a little bit of a theme in these vlogs.”

Morrison is pessimistic that any of the civil suits will have much effect.

“It may get some of these kids their money back,” he says. “But it’s not going to change what’s happening. It’s not going to save anyone else’s kids.” The cost of opening a skins gambling site is so low — in some cases just a few hundred dollars — and the potential returns are so high that Morrison says he knows developers “who’ve spent a fortune in marketing because they know they’ll make it back in the first day.”

While Rafael Palmeiro, who failed a test, has fallen off the ballot, he was not the player Ramirez and A-Rod were, and his election timing was far worse.

A-Rod will have his Hall of Fame clock begin this year, meaning in 2022 the gun will go off on his 10-year election process. He will have until 2032 to reach the 75 percent threshold.

Voters will only become younger during that time. And younger voters seem to be more lenient on steroids.

Taking PEDs out of the conversation, Rodriguez is easily one of the greatest players ever. His 696 homers are fourth best in history. He won three MVPs and made 14 All-Star teams. He was a Gold Glove shortstop before unselfishly moving to third base in the Bronx, even though he was a better defender than the Yankees had at the time.

His collected his one World Series ring, in which he had one of the great individual Octobers in the game’s history, the year he was outed as a PED user.

That brings us to the $48 million question: How much is he worth?

Elite Brett Favre Jersey Three of Bortles’ interceptions came in an October game against the Cleveland Browns. In the third quarter, after his third pick of the day, Bradley called over the then-22-year-old passer for a chat on the sideline that was captured by cameras.

Elite Ben Scrivens Jersey “I don’t mind that stuff, just think about your look, when I see you on the sideline,” Bradley told Bortles with encouraging calm. “You’ve got great confidence so just go out there and attack. Go do the things that you do. Those things can happen, but your look is what I’m looking for. Just make sure because they feel that.”

One drive later, Bortles threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to give the Jaguars a lead that the team held for the remainder of the game en route to its first victory of the year.

That brings us to the $48 million question: How much is he worth?

Start with what Bryant would make he gets tagged again in 2015. That’s more than $28 million in guaranteed money over two years and an annual average in excess of $14 million. But it’s only two years. The ceiling for these negotiations is the Megatron mega deal, maybe even a little higher, even though that deal now looks more and more like an outlier.

Bryant’s an essential part of the Cowboys’ offense, but, theoretically anyway, they could get by without him with a pretty dramatic shift in schemes until they could find a viable replacement. Easier said than done. No Dez means Terrance Williams and “Clean” Cole Beasley as the No. 1 and 2 receivers, respectively. Not even the Giants’ secondary would be threatened by that tandem. Safeties will cheat up closer to the line, Dallas would be forced to lean on Darren McFadden even more and unhappy fans would be forced to watch a rare superstar player bolt for another team.

Ezekiel Elliott or Dak Prescott in the NFC East?

NFL Nation reporters voted on the best rookie in all eight divisions, and it was easier in some divisions than others.

Jordy Nelson and Cameron Wake recovered from major injuries to have impressive seasons — at ages 31 and 34, respectively. Here are NFL Nation’s picks for comeback players in all eight divisions.

Elite Mens Robert Golden Jersey The Giants will make a big move for a left tackle. They can’t go into next season with Ereck Flowers protecting Eli Manning’s blind side, and are unlikely to invest another high draft pick — their third in in five years — in an offensive tackle. So the Giants will either sign a top left tackle in free agency, or make a splashy trade. Cincinnati’s Andrew Whitworth and Cleveland’s Joe Thomas are the kind of targets that would make sense. — Jordan Raanan

“In Jimmy’s case, it doesn’t matter if he’s 10-for-10, or 1-for-10,” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s going to step up with confidence in that fourth quarter and try to take over the game with supreme confidence and that’s a great luxury to have is when you have a guy, that you know you put the ball in his hands and he can close the game for you.”

Butler’s performance late in the game wouldn’t have been possible without a career night from Doug McDermott and a solid performance from point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists, prompting Hoiberg to call it the best game of the young guard’s brief Bulls career. But it was McDermott who carried the weight for the Bulls in the first half, scoring 20 of his career-high 31 points in the second quarter.
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“It was crazy,” McDermott said. “I was just in the zone … just a great feeling. I hadn’t been shooting it late so just to see a couple go through was a great feeling.”

McDermott, who came into the game shooting 13-for-48 over his last five games, played with the type of confidence the Bulls have been hoping to see on Sunday. He didn’t hesitate and wasn’t afraid to get to the rim. With the Bulls playing without Dwyane Wade (rest) and Niko Mirotic (illness), Hoiberg and the players understood that Butler couldn’t win the game on his own. It was the perfect time for McDermott to break out of his funk.

Bears 1st-round draft pick Kevin White could miss season after shin surgery

The No. 7 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft might miss his entire rookie season. Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White needs surgery to repair a stress fracture in his shin, according to GM Ryan Pace. Pace acknowledged there’s the possibility the injury could sideline him for the entire year.

Pace said White suffered a setback last week for an injury that has kept him out of training camp up to this point. The initial injury was suffered during OTAs.

White will miss at least the first six games of the season, according to the team. He was expected to fill the void left by the departure of Brandon Marshall and be a vertical threat next to fourth-year target Alshon Jeffery.

Saturday was rough for right tackles around the league, as the Buccaneers lost right tackle Demar Dotson to an injury late in the first half, and the Vikings lost Phil Loadholt early in the game. Both players went to the locker room with apparent lower leg injuries.

Rams quarterback Nick Foles took his first real snaps from the team since they traded for him (and after a contract extension) and finished the night with 3-of-5 completions for 69 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

One of two things will, with almost 100 percent certainty, happen this season: Either Bryant will see a lot more targets, and his percentage will fall, or he will score a lot fewer touchdowns, and his percentage will fall. With Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates also in the fold, I tend toward the latter of those options, and think Bryant will be only a flex play or helper in random, unpredictable weeks.