How a pitcher can get a hold and a loss

By Nick Veronica

Cardinals relief pitcher Matt Bowman earned a unique, if unfortunate, stat line this week, picking up both a hold and the loss in a game against the Diamondbacks.

That was initially confusing – how can you a earn a hold for protecting the lead and still be charged with a loss?

Turns out it’s not that unheard of, but it can only happen in one way. And it’s always the next guy’s fault.

Here’s how this statistical phenomenon happens, in five tweets:

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So there you have it. Blame the next guy.

Javon McCrea joins Billy Baron, Jordan Heath on Belgian team

By Nick Veronica

TBelgacom_Spirou_logowo of the best Big 4 basketball players in recent memory have joined forces in the European professional ranks.

Former UB forward Javon McCrea signed this week with the Belgian club Proximus Spirou, where he’ll play alongside Canisius alum Billy Baron for the rest of the season.

Both Baron and McCrea earned their conference’s Player of the Year honors in 2014. Spirou’s roster also boasts Baron’s older brother, Jimmy, as well as another former Canisius player, forward Jordan Heath.

Spirou appear to have a handful of games remaining in the regular season. Billy and Jimmy Baron lead the team in scoring and minutes, with Billy averaging 16.2 points per game and Jimmy close behind at 15.5. Heath is fourth in scoring at 9.3 ppg and second in rebounding at 5.2.

McCrea played his first professional season in Germany a year ago. He began this season with French side Nancy before joining Santurce of the Puerto Rican league.

Texas A&M sets NCAA last-minute comeback record, breaking Canisius’ mark

By Nick Veronica

Texas A&M set an NCAA comeback record Sunday by rallying from a 12-point deficit in the final minute to beat Northern Iowa in the NCAA Tournament, 92-88, in double overtime.

The previous record for largest final-minute deficit overcome to win the game – 11 points – was set by UNLV in 2005 and matched by Canisius in December.

Here are the previous marks from the NCAA record book (which hasn’t been updated yet to include Canisius):

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How did this happen?

The Aggies’ comeback turned out to be very different from Canisius’ comeback, which was fueled by missed free throws and clutch 3-pointers.

Jeremy Morgan hit two free throws to put Northern Iowa up, 69-57, with 44 seconds to play. Then the wheels fell off. Texas A&M ripped off a 14-2 run over a span of 31 seconds (!) before UNI missed a potential game-winning shot just before the buzzer.

The biggest factor in the Panthers’ demise was turnovers. They blew a 12-point lead without missing a single free throw! The complete play-by-play is here, but here are the highlights:

Over the final 44 seconds:

  • Northern Iowa committed four turnovers
  • Texas A&M went 6-for-7 from the field, and got the rebound on its only miss
  • Danuel House led A&M with five points while Admon Gilder, a freshman, scored four and had two steals

Texas A&M made the only free throw taken over the stretch, on a traditional 3-point play from Alex Caruso. Jalen Jones added a bucket and had a steal for A&M while House hit the only 3-pointer. Klint Carlson scored UNI’s only points on a dunk.

Caruso hit a jumper to tie the game with eight seconds left in the first overtime before the Aggies got separation in the second overtime. Third-seeded Texas A&M advanced to play 2-Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 while the Cinderella run ended for 11-Northern Iowa in an epic collapse.

President Obama picks against UB in NCAA Tournament this year

obamabracketmiamibuffalo

By Nick Veronica

President Obama got burned by UB last year when he picked them to upset West Virginia in his annual March Madness bracket with ESPN.

Obama’s not letting that happen again. In his 2016 bracket, revealed Wednesday, the president picked Miami to beat UB and Arizona before falling to Villanova in the Sweet 16. His national champion is Kansas.

UB, seeded 14th, is being picked to beat Miami in only 7.7 percent of ESPN.com brackets. Vegas Insider lists the Bulls as 14-point underdogs.

Here’s Obama’s full bracket. It’s worth noting that his picks last year only finished in the 40th percentile of all ESPN.com brackets.

Obama has filled out a presidential bracket every year since 2009, correctly picking the national champion once in his first year (North Carolina).

The last 10 NFL Street players who haven’t retired yet

NFLStreet

By Nick Veronica


Peyton Manning’s retirement this week meant we lost another member of an exclusive club: the list of active players who were in the original NFL Street video game.

Of the game’s 398 players, Manning makes 388 who have called it a career. Only three remaining players – all quarterbacks – are under contract for 2016 and definitely coming back, while seven more hope to get another year.

The classic game was released in 2004 with rosters from the 2003 season, so the atrophy of this list was inevitable and expected. (In fact, many players outlasted the game systems NFL Street was made for: Play Station 2, GameCube and Xbox.)

But still, going through and hoping to find active players was an exercise in futility. (Hat-tip to the Madden Ratings blog for help with the rosters and big ups to Josh for his research assistance). There were multiple occasions where we thought we might have an active player, only to learn he retired years ago.

Here are the results. Players who are definitely playing in 2016 are highlighted in green, while questionable players are highlighted in blue. Keep in mind that NFL Street was played 7-on-7 with no special teams. We’ll update as players sign/retire (which may been soon, since free agency opened at 3 p.m. Wednesday).

AFC rosters

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– Brady’s contract runs through the 2017 season.

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– Palmer’s contract runs through the 2017 season.

– Suggs tore his Achilles in September but vowed he wasn’t finished playing, even if it’s not for the Ravens.

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– The Colts are unlikely to bring back Johnson, but he said “I am playing, there’s no question about that.”

– Freeney nearly retired before signing with the Cardinals last season and enjoyed their playoff run. No word on yet on where he’ll be in 2016.

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– Brees will enter the final year of his deal with Chargers in 2016.

NFC rosters

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– Vick said Wednesday that he wants one more year. He’s willing to wait as long as it takes, but if an offer doesn’t come, 2016 will be it for him.

– Smith said 2015 would be his last year, but changed his mind after an injury.

– Peppers’ contract runs through 2016, but after the Packers’ playoff loss he said he was “not sure” if he’d return for another year or retire. We put him in blue, but he could switch to green.

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– Boldin is a free agent but said in December “right now it’s not the time” to retire.

So here’s the breakdown:

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Who will be the game’s final active player? I’d have a hard time betting against Brady (38 years young), even if he is older than Brees (37) and Palmer (36).