Bryce Harper delights home crowd with Home Run Derby win

The ball cleared the center field wall, and the sellout crowd roared. Bryce Harper threw his bat in the air, thrust both index fingers skyward and yelled with delight as a shower of streamers rained upon the crowd of 43,698. It could have been a scene from a playoff game. That it was merely the All-Star Home Run Derby mattered not to Harper or the Washington Nationals fans, who were thrilled to see their hometown hero deliver the night’s final longball Monday. In the midst of it all — and in the middle of trying season — Harper grabbed the microphone and

The Open 2018: Golf to introduce blood testing as part of WADA regulations

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Rory McIlroy confident his firepower can boost him to victory at The Open

The toughest course on the rota has claimed many a victim down the years but McIlroy, one of the longest hitters in the game, feels he has the ammunition to put it in its place. “My record at the Open has been pretty good over the last few years and I don’t see any reason why I can’t continue that good run this week,” said McIlroy, who practised with Spain’s Jon Rahm yesterday. “With the way the rough is, someone like Jon and I can fly it over 320 yards – you’re basically taking all the trouble out of play

Jordan Spieth reveals Claret Jug sadness ahead of The Open

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Danny Willett: Former Masters champion opens up on his fall from grace ahead of The Open

He is able to do so with complete honesty because, finally, the wheel has begun to turn but if you ever wondered what happened to that twitchy Yorkshireman who won the Masters then here it is in unflinching detail. Willett’s fall from Augusta hero two years ago to a missed cut and withdrawal specialist was widely (mis) interpreted as a classic case of golfing Icarus, a player who flew too close to the sun and could not handle what went with becoming a Major champion. The truth was that at 28 he was only on the course at all with

Sources: LeBron to miss Team USA minicamp

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The Open 2018: Rory McIlroy confident his firepower can boost him to victory at Carnoustie

The toughest course on the rota has claimed many a victim down the years but McIlroy, one of the longest hitters in the game, feels he has the ammunition to put it in its place. “My record at the Open has been pretty good over the last few years and I don’t see any reason why I can’t continue that good run this week,” said McIlroy, who practised with Spain’s Jon Rahm yesterday. “With the way the rough is, someone like Jon and I can fly it over 320 yards – you’re basically taking all the trouble out of play

British Open viewer’s guide: tee times, TV schedule and streaming options

The 147th British Open begins on Thursday at Carnoustie, and tee times for the opening round are from 1:35 a.m. ET to 11:16 a.m. ET. Tiger Woods, making his first British Open start in three years, tees off at 10:21 a.m. alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox, and that group goes off at 5:20 a.m. on Friday. The TV broadcast begins at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday on the Golf Channel and continues until 4 p.m. Weekend coverage is also on NBC. Below is the TV schedule, streaming options and tee times for the week. TV SCHEDULE (ET) Thursday: 1:30 a.m.-4

Scherzer gets nod to start MLB all-star game in home park

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will bat sixth for the National League in the all-star game in his home ballpark on Tuesday night in Washington (7:30 p.m. ET). Harper is hitting .214 with a .365 on-base percentage, .468 slugging percentage, 23 home runs and 54 runs batted in. Despite his hitting struggles, Harper is an all-star — voted in by fans — for the sixth time in his seven-year major league career. Nationals teammate Max Scherzer will take the mound for the NL as expected with Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts saying it’s good for baseball and for the country

LaVar’s latest boast: In prime, I’d beat LeBron

1:31 PM ET LaVar Ball made headlines last year when he said that he could have beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one back in his playing days. Now the braggadocious basketball dad is making the same claim about his son’s new teammate: LeBron James. In a recent interview with Fanatics View, Ball said he would have been able to beat James because the four-time NBA MVP is “too weak.” “ too weak,” Ball, 50, said during the interview, which was published last Thursday. “Back in my heyday, can’t nobody hold me. 270 (pounds), benching 500? All I gotta do is back

8 things to know about the 2018 World Cup

If you’re Italian, Dutch or American — look away now. There’s nothing to see here.

However, if your ancestors hailed from Iceland, Panama or Peru, I’m guessing you’re getting very excited. You should be. Unlike those three aforementioned non-qualifiers, your people are going to the World Cup.

As a fan, it’s all about patriotism. The World Cup is a quadrennial excuse to drape yourself (and maybe even your vehicle) in the flag of your country of origin. It’s when friends and family gather in the basement in front of the new widescreen TV to belt out the national anthem and then squirm on pins and needles for the next 90 minutes.

Once committed, there is no going back on this emotional investment. You’re hooked for as long as it lasts. Meal times are moved, work schedules adjusted and sleeping patterns disrupted. You’ll do whatever it takes for one month every four years as the World Cup takes precedence over spouses, children, pets and in-laws.

Be warned, though — it will almost certainly end in tears. Only eight nations have ever scaled the mountain and lifted the trophy. That means your team will, in all likelihood, face an emotional and in some cases ignominious exit at some point in the coming weeks.

But you’re ready for that, right? Here’s what else we know as the 2018 World Cup kicks off Thursday in Russia:

Germany always shows up. It is a well-drilled, well-oiled machine that can be relied upon to be in contention at the business end of every World Cup. The defending champions won the test event, the Confederations Cup, in Russia last year and should be a lock to reach at least the semifinals of the main event.

Brazil will entertain us. It always does. The Brazilians were the first South American nation to qualify for Russia, losing just one of their 18 qualifiers. Since then the Samba giants have beaten the World Cup hosts in Moscow and the mighty Germans in Berlin. No one has forgotten how Germany destroyed Brazil at their own World Cup four years ago with a 7-1 rout in the semifinals, but all the signs point to a successful rehabilitation.

Cristiano Ronaldo is nearing the end. The Portuguese talisman will be 37 by the time we get to the Middle East four years hence, so it’s now or never for CR7. He has won everything there is to win during his spectacular career — everything except a World Cup. Two years ago, Ronaldo led his nation to European Championship glory, but surely it is too much to expect that Portugal could also hoist the World Cup on July 15.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is still trying for the first World Cup title of his brilliant career. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Time is also running out for Lionel Messi. Alongside Ronaldo he is the most gifted player of his generation, but is the Argentine playmaker past his best? Messi will celebrate his 31st birthday at the World Cup, but will he ever get his hands on it? He should have done so in Brazil. Argentina had the better of Germany for long periods in the 2014 final but Messi walked away with the Golden Ball, not the golden trophy he coveted. It is entirely possible he will never get that close again.

Every World Cup introduces us to the next generation of global superstars. Remember James Rodriguez in 2014? The then 22-year-old Colombian lit up the tournament with a series of dazzling performances and highlight-reel goals. Mo Salah could be next in line. The Egyptian striker has just completed a record-breaking first season in the Premier League with Liverpool. He has wonderful natural ability and his maturation has led his country back to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years.

Harry Kane is also primed for his first World Cup. At the tender age of 24 he has been handed the England captaincy — a big responsibility for a player still some years away from his peak. Kane is England’s most proficient goal-scorer since a 17-year-old Wayne Rooney first exploded onto the international scene. 

Argentina is not short of strikers. And now it has another potential gem to add to its crown jewels. Paulo Dybala, 24, has been honing his craft in Italy over recent years and his most profitable season to date with Juventus has earned him a World Cup call. Dybala’s speed of thought and deed are not in question. Whether or not he can push his way up the pecking order past Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain to complement Messi is the real dilemma facing coach Jorge Sampaoli.

Iceland should be everyone’s second-favourite team. They were a joyous revelation at the Euros in 2016 and now they’ve taken the next step and qualified for the World Cup for the first time ever. The team works incredibly hard and the fans are all in, all the time. For an island nation with a population of less than 350,000, Iceland’s success is a modern-day fairytale. Regardless of results, they will enjoy the adventure and so should you.

So brace yourself. Here comes a global rollercoaster that will whisk you away to Paradise Island, then toss your emotions in the garbage like a frayed, dirty rag. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

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