there is always an element of surprise when the big leagues come calling.

“We’re just all kind of blessed,” Montgomery said. “It’s a great time to be a young Yankee right now. We all just kind of fit in right at the perfect time and it all happened so quick and we’re here. We’re all still fairly young.”

Despite all the effort and time spent, there is always an element of surprise when the big leagues come calling. There’s a sense of gratitude, too.

“With how baseball’s transitioned into a younger generation it’s definitely helping these younger guys get an opportunity a lot earlier in their career,” Frazier, whom the Yankees acquired from Cleveland last summer, said.

“I never thought that I was going to play for the New York Yankees ’cause I was with the Indians, so everything happens unexpectedly. I’m honestly saying this: I’m thrilled to be here and I’m proud to be a New York Yankee.”

Blue Jays (at Red Sox)
Status heading into series: 42-49, 5.5 back in the wild-card, 9 back in the AL East
Need to know: That still looks like a potentially powerful offense, and if starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez stays healthy to team with Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ, that’s a solid top of the rotation, too. And closer Roberto Osuna made the All-Star squad. This feels like a team that could still win a postseason series or two, right? And remember that 40-18 finish to the 2015 season that led to the franchise’s first playoff berth since 1993?

On other hand: They’re seven games under .500. After crawling their way back to within a game of the .500 mark at 35-36, they’re just 7-13, which is tied for the worst record in the AL. If they decide to sell, Josh Donaldson (free agent after 2018) and Marcus Stroman (contenders love young cost-controlled starters) could bring back huge returns.

It’s sort of a strange tribute because four of the six players spent their entire careers with the Dolphins.

The immortal moments of Sunday’s game put it on that pedestal, too. Julian Edelman’s ricochet catch late in the fourth, on the game-tying drive, is arguably the greatest in Super Bowl history.

The fact that the Patriots pulled off two touchdowns and a couple two-point conversions to tie it — brutally hard to do under any circumstances — qualifies it, as well.

Brady had no choice but to keep throwing it after falling so far behind, and after throwing his first postseason pick-six ever … and he set Super Bowl records for passes thrown and yardage.

There were unsung heroes like James White and Marcus Mitchell, MVPs humbled like Matt Ryan, stars who shined in defeat like Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, strategic blunders, dramatic turning points, unforgivable gaffes even by the winning team (the clanked extra-point kick).

It’s sort of a strange tribute because four of the six players spent their entire careers with the Dolphins. Only Little, whose first two seasons were spent with the Chargers, and Madison, who played the final three seasons of a 12-year career with the Giants, were with other teams.

“In this day and age, we try to get players to retire as Dolphins,” executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said during the signing ceremony. “This means a lot to us, our legacy. We’re all so proud of it and all the contributions you guys have made, it means a lot to all of us. We thank you guys and we’re proud that you’re Dolphins.”

The six players combined for two NFL MVP awards — Griese in 1971 and Marino in 1984 — 14 first-team All-Pros selections and 25 Pro Bowl invitations.

Griese helped lead the Dolphins to their only two Super Bowl championships during their undefeated 1972 season and again in 1973.

Marino retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards, completions, attempts and touchdowns — and remains among the top five all time in each of those categories.seahawks_011

NFL Draft 2017: DeShone Kizer: Worth the wait to land with Browns

DeShone Kizer was thrilled to see his patience rewarded after he was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Browns.

The Notre Dame quarterback was left to wait in the green room during Thursday’s first round as he was the only one of the consensus top-four passers not to be taken.

He did not attend day two of the draft in Philadelphia, but saw his slide ended at pick No. 52 by a team close to home.

“Is it helping players in terms of their accountability? And, obviously, addiction is a sickness and you want to make sure — obviously, there’s accountability but it’s also a program that helps players get better. I think personally, I know Jerry and I think that it might could be done better and we just need to take a look at it. Like I said, it’s been the same program that’s been in place for many, many years and I think all things to do with the NFL, we should all want the very best for our players. We should want the very best for our organizations and we should want the very best for our fans, and that’s anything that has to do with the NFL.

“In my opinion, we should take a long hard look at how we’re doing this and see if there’s a way, a better way to do it. What that is, I don’t have the answer. But we have a lot of smart people that can get in there and analyze something and really make some good decisions and see if there need to be changes.”

The Cowboys have seen several players — most notably Randy Gregory, multiple times — test positive under the current substance-abuse policy.

Jones added that that changes in the way marijuana is viewed — by society and, in several states, by the law — is part of the context of any re-examination of the policy, including testing and types of discipline, while also keeping a primary goal of helping players “who have sicknesses and addictions.”

college football players who have graduated in four or five years are also able to be drafted.

Cleveland’s talk of not selecting the consensus top prospect in the 2017 NFL draft looks like a smokescreen — especially after the former Aggie started following a handful of Browns on social media. Still, you can never count out the possibility of Cleveland surprising everyone to make a universally-panned move.

Foster’s horrible, terrible, bad, no-good combine started with him failing a drug test and ended prematurely after he got into a shouting match with a hospital worker. Cook has been accused of battery and cited for mistreating puppies. With a greater eye on off-field problems than ever before, they are likely to slide to a draft spot that fails to match their immense talent.

After these grades are released, underclassmen can pull their names out of the draft process and return to school, no problem. But If you’ve signed with an agent before the deadline, your college playing days are over.

Obviously, college football players who have graduated in four or five years are also able to be drafted.

If you have graduated, your draft eligibility is only good for the year after you’ve graduated. If you didn’t go to college, it’s once four seasons have passed since you or your classmates (if you didn’t get a diploma) graduate high school.

Of course, you can also tell the league no, like the first draft pick ever did. Even after all that, McKinley never let his situation deter him from his goal — a promise he’d made to his dying mother that he’d play Division I football and everything that came after.

On Thursday night, his hard work paid off. The Falcons traded up from 31 to add him to their roster with the 26th pick of the draft. His breakout 2016 season, bolstered by a series of solid offseason workouts, has set expectations high for an extraordinary young man.


Samuel is an elite athlete with explosive traits.

Ross’ 40 at the Combine will be etched in history regardless of how his NFL career plays out, but he should have a long one. His complete-receiver value goes beyond his straight-line speed. His ease of movement is apparent on film, as he’s able to play controlled and adjust at the catch point.

Ross is not just a perimeter or downfield, route-running speed threat; he’s a legitimate short-area and mid-field receiver who can work after the catch with patience and lateral quickness. Ross has showcased a multitude of downfield routes, and some of his best plays in college came off double moves, downfield posts, digs and deep comebacks. His big-play ability, including his return upside immediately as a rookie, makes him a top-20 prospect in the mold of Odell Beckham Jr.

Samuel is an elite athlete with explosive traits. When/if he takes hand-offs, he lacks the bulk or power to mash it up between the tackles, but he can run the outside zone and shows enough toughness to absorb big hits from linebackers. As a receiver in college, he was not asked to run a great variety of routes. But with his burst, quickness and body control, Samuel carries the traits to execute NFL patterns with development.

Samuel can really stick his foot into the ground and explode out of breaks. Slants, angle routes and option routes are his specialty at this stage. Overall, Samuel has game-breaking speed, but he’s raw. He can have an instant impact as an explosive return man, but his success might be dependent on the creativity of his coordinator. He’s the epitome of an offensive weapon with no true every-down position.

We’ve all screamed several times while watching both of these guys play and each yelp deserves a tally

All three of those teams went 2-8 during their first 10 games and made it to the playoffs anyway, despite two of them even finishing April under .500. Toronto, at 1-8, has three more games against the division-rival Orioles this weekend, and if they lose this series (and the next one, a three-game set against the Red Sox), 2017 could very well be a long season no matter how well they play afterward.

Each of those three teams who erased their horrific start had to go to extreme lengths to do so. The Pirates went 20-8 in August, and managed to win their division and earn an NLCS berth despite winning just 88 games on the season: the Blue Jays won a Wild Card spot last year with 89 wins. The Rays almost immediately rebounded with a 14-5 stretch to finish off their April, but it still took the Red Sox having one of the worst months in the history of baseball in September to help the Rays sneak into October — and the only reason even that worked out is because the Red Sox had gone 11-15 in April themselves before crushing the league for four months.

We’ve all screamed several times while watching both of these guys play and each yelp deserves a tally, too. Every time you audibly scream, whether it’s because of a violent dunk or nasty crossover, give that candidate three points.

Few things are more important to Westbrook or Harden than their undeniably, um, unique, fashion. There’s going to be some debate here, but we’ll try to keep things simple. If they wear something normal like a plain suit (which they won’t) award them no points, but if they are on-brand (which they will be) and wear something outrageous, give them four points. Our MVP needs to be stylish. (If the clothes also become a meme they are awarded a total of nine points.)

Kamara is a strong runner with perimeter upside

Jones entered an alcohol-related treatment program and anger management in the offseason after his arrest on charges of harassment with a bodily substance, assault, obstructing official business and disorderly conduct. Jones’ felony charge stemmed from an incident in which police say he spit on the hand of a nurse at the Cincinnati jail. He was also caught on camera cursing at a police officer and telling him, “I hope you die tomorrow.”

Cincinnati prosecutor Joe Deters dropped the felony charge in March and said Jones’ insistence on staying in the anger management program beyond the normal limits factored into his reasoning.

“I know you said you were thankful for the organization. Is there anything you have to show to fans, have to prove to the fans for them to welcome you back since there were a lot of people upset with the way things went down in the offseason for you?” Jones was asked on Monday morning.

“Didn’t I just tell you don’t ask me that?” Jones said. “Turn around. Go back that way. Bye. See you. Next question.”

New England traded back when it came to its original first-, second-, third-, and fourth- round picks in 2011. Jettisoning those four selections netted six in return, and the Patriots ended up with starters Stevan Ridley, Shave Vereen, Marcus Cannon, and one year later, Chandler Jones for their efforts. That’s pretty good!

After the consensus top three running backs, Kamara is often considered the next man up. While he’s a powerful interior runner with apparent readiness in his second-level reads and third-down value, a jack of all trades in the NFL sometimes means a master of none.

Kamara is a strong runner with perimeter upside, but he relies on a talented offensive line for support. There are more talented and versatile running backs in this class.

Lonzo Ball completely transformed UCLA from a team with a losing record to a national title contender

Same color scheme to stay consistent. You can see very well that if the guard (red) makes his block, Richardson will have a decent shot at a good gain here by cutting right inside of him. If ifs were fifths…

In his latest mock draft, SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell has 10 freshmen being selected before a college veteran (North Carolina’s Justin Jackson) finally hears his name called. That’s not a knock on college basketball’s current upperclassmen. It’s simply a testament to just how impressive the crop of freshmen were in their only season at the college level.

Lonzo Ball completely transformed UCLA from a team with a losing record to a national title contender, and as a result he’s a finalist for every national Player of the Year award. Josh Jackson’s ridiculous skill set was on full display all year, as he helped Kansas to a No. 1 seed and a Midwest Regional final appearance.

Kentucky’s big three freshmen — De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Bam Adebayo — were the powerhouse’s top three players. And even though they began the year injured, Duke’s No. 1 recruiting class eventually got healthy and helped the Blue Devils to an ACC tournament title and a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance.

Here’s the other thing about college basketball’s most prominent one-and-dones this season: You’re not going to see any of them at the Final Four.

2017 NFL Rookie of the Year: Tavon Austin, Larry Warford impress in Week 10

Remember, Tavon Austin? It’s ok if you don’t. The former West Virginia wide receiver, who became the darling of the pre-draft process leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, disappeared to start his rookie season with the St. Louis Rams, not able to pile up more than 47 receiving yards in a single game in St. Louis’ first nine games.

In Week 10, Austin reminded the NFL why scouts were drooling over his quickness and speed, catching only two passes but turning them into 138 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He also returned a punt 98 yards for a score.

Kerr will get some votes because the Warriors will have the best record in the league and the coach with the best record always seems to get votes. But Kerr won last year with a record-breaking 73-9 season, and his team added Kevin Durant. There’s some resentment toward the Warriors in general and there will be some penalty for finishing with a worse record, no matter how ridiculous that sounds. (There also has never been a back-to-back Coach of the Year.)

Lue’s Cavaliers, meanwhile, are currently in a dogfight for the No. 1 seed in the East despite having the most talented roster and the best player in the world. Coaches often take the most credit and blame for their teams’ defensive performances. Cleveland’s weakness on that end kills Lue’s case.nike_colts_1305

It’s understandable why a president might want to skip the first pitch

The 2017 NFL draft’s All-Name Team, led by Jake Butt, Raekwon McMillan, and Dee Liner

Skipping the first pitch isn’t anything new. A lot of presidents did, especially when they started slacking in the 1970s. Presidents have declined 26 times in the 107 years since Taft threw out the first pitch, meaning that actually seeing the first pitch thrown by the president happens just 75.8 percent of seasons. George W. Bush was the only president since FDR to throw out the pitch in the majority of his years in office.

It’s understandable why a president might want to skip the first pitch. It’s a stressful moment where nonathletic people need to pretend they’re athletic in front of thousands of people. Obama explained the pressure last year.

“We do a lot of tough stuff as president. And by definition you don’t end up being president if you don’t handle stress well. [But] nothing is more stressful than throwing a first pitch,”

Sunday’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints was billed to be one of the top games in Week 11, and it didn’t disappoint. Colin Kaepernick shook off the criticism to show he could hang with one of the league’s best offenses, but it wasn’t enough as Drew Brees led his team to a late victory, 23-20.

Offensively, Kansas City was stagnant for most of the game. Nothing was happening for the Chiefs offense, especially in the second half. The Chiefs’ defense has been an asset for the team all season long, but it was tough for the pass rush to make an impact with Manning getting rid of the ball so quickly.