Matt Kemp probably won't be winning MVP now

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Matt Kemp probably won't be winning MVP now

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers placed center fielder Matt Kemp on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday for the second time this month because of a left hamstring strain. And this time, the training staff is going to make sure there are no recurrences when he returns to the lineup. Kemp went 1 for 4 with a double in two games since being reinstated from the disabled list on Tuesday. He left Wednesday night's game against Milwaukee after scoring all the way from first base on a first-inning double by Andre Ethier. "He has a little bit of swelling in the same area, as well as a new strain in a higher part of that hamstring," said Sue Falsone, who is in her first year as the club's head athletic trainer after spending the previous five seasons as the team's physical therapist. "They're both Grade-1s, which means that there's not a lot of muscle fiber tear. It's the lowest grade of a muscle strain, so that's good news. But having multiple strains in one muscle, obviously it's going to be a little bit longer from a rehab standpoint. So we're just going to take it day-by-day." Falsone said the best-case scenario for Kemp is four weeks before he can play again. He spent two weeks on the disabled list the first time the hamstring bothered him and when he got back to the dugout after his latest mishap, he broke a bat over his knee in frustration. "It's nobody's fault," Kemp said after Wednesday's game. "I was happy to be back. It felt great, and I thought I was 100 percent. But now I'm going to be sitting out a while. It feels worse than the first time. This is my first time ever really having any hamstring problems, so I don't know how to really treat it. I know they're very tricky and they can always come back. So I definitely have to take it slow and make sure it's healed." Kemp was leading the league with 12 home runs when he aggravated the hamstring running out a grounder May 13 against Colorado -- ending his consecutive games streak at 399. He played in two rehab games with Triple-A Albuquerque over the weekend, going 5 for 7 with two homers and five RBIs. "We have benchmarks and milestones in place, and he achieved all of them or he wouldn't have been out there playing," Falsone said. "But I don't think you can say that the first strain caused the second strain. So we'll put him through all the same rigors that we did before -- all the baserunning, all the deceleration stuff -- but we're just going to take longer to do it." Los Angeles entered Thursday with a major league-best 32-18 record and a 5-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West despite their first three-game losing streak. And with Kemp's bat missing from the third spot in the order, the Dodgers will be hard-pressed to fill the void on a long-term basis. "It's frustrating for everybody," Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said. "We all feel bad for Matt. I know nobody feels worse than he does. He wants to play -- bad. It's never easy for the team to deal with when your superstar's out. But at the same time, the games keep coming. So you've got to keep playing and keep grinding." "This is our first tough stretch of the year, but we'll come out of it and we'll be better for it," said. "We don't know how long Matt's going to be out, but we've got to play like we did the first time he was out, and the guys who stepped up have got to keep doing that." Kemp, who finished runner-up to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in last year's NL MVP voting, is batting .355 with 28 RBIs in 36 games. Last season, he hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs -- falling one homer shy of becoming only the fifth player in big league history with at least 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in the same season. "We thought Matt was ready to roll," manager Don Mattingly said. "We wouldn't have thrown him out there if we didn't think he was a hundred percent -- or if he didn't think he was a hundred percent. This should be a challenging time for us. It's the time you find out what kind of club you are and what kind of character you have. We were pretty resilient for a couple of weeks when Matt was out (9-5), and guys stepped up and did their thing. And we're going to have to do it again." The Dodgers promoted second baseman-outfielder Alex Castellanos from Triple-A Albuquerque. Castellanos, who will be making his major league debut, was hitting .379 with 10 doubles, four triples, five homers and 14 RBI in 22 games with Albuquerque.

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

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USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead