Fans now a part of Super Bowl media day

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Fans now a part of Super Bowl media day

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Chad Ochocinco was recounting how much he had changed during his one season in New England, when a section of fans in the stands started to cheer. Startled, he turned his head away from the microphone and tried to see what was causing the commotion at Super Bowl media day, which had a new look this year. For the first time, fans were allowed to sit in the stands and watch the goofiness unfold on the field. What he heard was some of the 7,300 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium cheering Tuesday when a player complimented their city and their restaurants. "It's kind of crazy," Patriots linebacker Tracy White said. "It's a new thing with the fans being able to buy tickets and come watch us do interviews. It's pretty cool." For 25 apiece, they got headsets that allowed them to hear how coaches and players at some of the 14 podiums on the field responded to media questions and everything else thrown their way. They quickly became part of the ambiance. While videographers were setting up tripods at the most popular podiums -- the one for quarterback Tom Brady drew the most attention -- fans settled into their seats, most of them wearing Colts jerseys. One fan dressed like Brady -- blue Patriots jersey, pants, shoulder pads, hand towel and pretend play list on his left forearm -- ventured to the front row and quickly got his desired several minutes of interview attention. Shortly before the Patriots started walking onto the field, a public address announcer told the crowd: "Let's respect all the media, all the players." The crowd applauded, then started figuring out how to tune in the headsets to listen to the interviews. "It's such an intimate experience," said Nick Lowery, a Patriots fan who drove from Columbia, Mo. "This is really cool." Until Tuesday, the NFL had restricted interviews at the Super Bowl stadium to accredited members of the news and entertainment media. By opening it up to fans, the two hour-long interview sessions felt more like the practice sessions before NCAA basketball tournament games, which are open to the public. Fans weren't allowed to get autographs or take photos with players, but a couple of them managed to sneak one in. A fan got Giants safety Kenny Phillips to autograph a football and toss it back. Mostly, they watched a typical media day -- lots of questions, a little bit of strangeness. A man dressed as a caped character from a cable network wandered about with a crew taping his off-beat interactions with Giants and Patriots. A Spanish language network sent a crew with a dance instructor and a disco ball on a stick, luring players into showing their moves to salsa music. Ochocinco's social media network -- the Ochocinco News Network -- prowled the sideline for interviews. Nobody enjoyed the day more than Ochocinco, who reached the playoffs only twice during 10 seasons with Cincinnati and wound up 0-2. When he was traded to the Patriots in July, he knew he would have to keep most of his comments to himself to co-exist with coach Bill Belichick, who doesn't tolerate diva distractions. Ochocinco kept quiet and accepted a reserve role on the team. He was the last Patriot to wade into the media throng on Tuesday, smiling at one of the best moments of his career. "Aw, man, I've dreamed of it," Ochocinco said. "I've been playing this game a long time -- started out at 4 years old. And this is what you dream of, to come to this stage and enjoy it. So that's what I'm going to do." Asked if it was bittersweet because he wasn't a starter and didn't get to sit at one of the podiums, Ochocinco smiled again. "It's not bittersweet," he said. "It's the Super Bowl."

Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

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Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale vs. Edison Volquez

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Why Cubs believe in Kyle Hendricks and his sneaky-good potential

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Why Cubs believe in Kyle Hendricks and his sneaky-good potential

Maybe Kyle Hendricks would inevitably be overshadowed in a rotation featuring the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta), a $155 million All-Star lefty (Jon Lester) and a Texas cowboy who also has two World Series rings (John Lackey). Not to mention a Cubs team identified with zoo animals, dance parties and an explosive offense.

The low-key personality, sense of calm and sharp focus that’s allowed Hendricks to survive in The Show – and also earn an economics degree from Dartmouth College – certainly plays into that perception as well. 

But there’s no denying what Hendricks means to the Cubs as an extremely reliable fifth starter for the team with the best record in baseball – in what’s shaping up to be a very shallow market for pitching at this summer’s trade deadline and this winter’s upcoming class of free agents.  

Hendricks had to become a huge part of the story after almost throwing a complete-game shutout during Saturday afternoon’s 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in front of 41,555 at Wrigley Field. 

“What you saw today – that’s what you could get out of him,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s 88-89 (mph) with the really good changeup and he broke out the hooks a couple times. But he’s good against lefties and righties when everything’s working. And he can keep the ball on the ground, which is really important in this ballpark. 

“Right now, what you’re seeing, to me, is not a reach by any means. This is what he can look like very, very consistently.”

Hendricks needed only 104 pitches to throw his complete game, allowing five hits and finishing with seven strikeouts against zero walks. The Phillies (26-23) scored their only run in the ninth inning, after second baseman Ben Zobrist and right fielder Jason Heyward lost a flyball in the sun. Freddy Galvis got credited with a double and later scored on the throw to first base to complete a Ryan Howard strikeout, taking advantage of the extreme defensive shift against Philadelphia’s fading slugger.   

Hendricks (3-4, 2.93 ERA) has thrown at least five innings in each of his nine starts so far this season. He made 32 starts last year and finished with a sub-4.00 ERA and a very good strikeout-to-walk ratio (167:43). He’s 26 years old and can’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

“Now his confidence is back on, because he knows he can use the curveball as well,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “There were so many ways to go, because everything was working.

“It’s huge (when) it’s not just fastball-changeup. He’s got another weapon to go to sometimes. And, obviously, as a hitter, you know it’s three pitches (now in play). It’s a little bit more uncomfortable for a hitter. You don’t know what you’re going to look for.”  

Hendricks beat Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks in his first start this season – and lost a 1-0 decision to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants in his previous start. Not that Hendricks is about to start pounding his chest on the mound or running his mouth in the interview room. 

“I’m pretty confident, but it doesn’t really matter much,” Hendricks said. “All that matters is going out there and making pitches. It’s back to work this week, (throw) my bullpen, stay where I’m at in my lane and keep the ball down with some angle.” 

Seven-run ninth inning dooms White Sox in loss to Royals

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Seven-run ninth inning dooms White Sox in loss to Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What an implosion.

A day after they inexplicably gave away one contest, the White Sox outdid themselves on Saturday afternoon.

Instead of evening the series with a decisive victory, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle allowed the Kansas City Royals to rally for seven ninth-inning runs to send the White Sox to a stunning 8-7 loss in front of 31,598 at Kauffman Stadium. Brett Eibner’s bases-loaded RBI single off Kahnle capped an improbable comeback and delivered another crushing blow to the White Sox, who have lost five straight and 13 of their last 17 contests.

“This is a tough one, no matter how you look at it,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “You saw what happened. You can go back and think about it, game we should have won and didn’t win.”

“We’re all professionals and we’ve seen crazy things in baseball. This is one of them.”

Saturday’s loss ranks as one of the craziest in club history. The White Sox went from a state of joy, cruising toward a pivotal victory, to disarray in a span of 51 pitches.

Leading 7-1, Robertson took over and struck out Paulo Orlando.

Cheslor Cuthbert then singled and Eibner doubled to deep right when Adam Eaton lost the ball in the sun. Robertson walked Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar consecutively to force in a run, which prompted a visit from White Sox manager Robin Ventura.

Whit Merrifield’s grounder then deflected off the glove of Robertson and a potential double play turned into a two-run single and made it a 7-4 contest.

“The worst part about it was looking back and seeing Brett (Lawrie) was right there,” Robertson said. “If I had let it go, I would have got us out of the inning. It’s frustrating when you make a mistake like that.”

Lorenzo Cain’s hustle kept the inning alive as he narrowly beat out a game-ending double play to drive in another run. Eric Hosmer followed with an RBI double to right-center field to make it a 7-6 game and end Robertson’s day.

“It’s a terrible performance on my part,” Robertson said. “Can’t say much else about it.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is, I still have to get three outs. I let the whole team down.”

Drew Butera lifted his team’s spirits. The backup catcher entered in the ninth inning after an apparent knee injury knocked Salvador Perez out of the game. Already on tilt, the Kauffman crowd erupted when Butera ripped a 99-mph fastball from Kahnle for a game-tying double.

The White Sox opted to intentionally walk Orlando. But it didn’t prevent Kahnle from allowing Butera to advance to third as he uncorked a wild pitch. Kahnle also intentionally walked Jarrod Dyson to load the bases for Eibner, who ended a 10-pitch at-bat with the game-winning single under the glove of Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

“The way games have been going, you go to the guy to close it out, because we haven’t been able to get to him,” Ventura said. “There’s no shot clock. There’s no time clock. If you can’t close it out, that’s what happens. And today we couldn’t close it out.”

The White Sox entered the ninth inning without a care in the world. They had bounced back definitively from Friday’s stunner, when the bullpen surrendered a four-run lead over the final three innings.

An opposite-field approach against Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura took hold with two outs in the fourth inning. Brett Lawrie, Alex Avila and Avisail Garcia all had opposite-field singles, Garcia’s providing the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Tyler Saladino then crushed a hanging 0-2 slider from Ventura for a three-run homer to left field and a four-run lead.

The White Sox offense continued to add on against Ventura. Avila doubled with one out in the fourth inning and Garcia hammered a 2-1 changeup for a two-run shot. Garcia’s homer, his fifth, traveled 428 feet at an exit velocity of 113 mph and gave the White Sox a 6-1 advantage.

They added another run in the fifth as Austin Jackson singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by Omar Infante.

And then the Royals happened again.

“They have mojo over there right now,” Avila said. “They just keep coming at you and taking advantage of the fact that we’re scuffling a little bit right now.”

The devastating loss was the third in 18 days in which the White Sox bullpen surrendered a significant lead. The unit, which has a 4.73 ERA this month, also blew a five-run lead in a 13-11 loss at the Texas Rangers on May 10. Along with a blown four-run lead on Friday, the White Sox nearly surrendered a four-run advantage in the opening game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians on Monday.

“It might have a lasting effect,” Frazier said. “There are going to be some guys who are in here who tonight aren’t going to be real happy. Once you get in here and know we start over again, I’ve learned from the best that you start all over like nothing happened and go about your business.”