What I feel more than anything

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BOSTON -- Will Middlebrooks reaction running down the first-base line might have summed up how his teammates were feeling when the Boston Red Sox finally got
back to .
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.500. The slumping Middlebrooks pumped his fist a
few times after hitting an RBI single with the bases loaded, capping a two-run
rally in the eighth inning that sent the Red Sox over the Cincinnati Reds 4-3
Wednesday night for a sweep of the two-game interleague series. "I just wanted
to help the team win and to contribute," Middlebrooks said. Mired in a 2-for-19
stretch and coming off an 0-for-5 night with a pair of strikeouts, Middlebrooks
sent a hard grounder up the middle for the go-ahead run. "Ive been frustrated,
but regardless if youre 10-for-10 or 0-for-10 or whatever, youre happy to
contribute to a win in any way possible," he said. David Ortiz and Mike Napoli
also drove in runs for the World Series champions, who reached .500 for the
first time since the fourth game of the season. They failed in eight previous
chances. "I dont think it was a mental hurdle," Boston manager John Farrell
said. "I never heard too many of us mention that were bumping up against .500
and taking a step back. It was just more of a situation inside games where we
had opportunities that we havent cashed in on, finally we do tonight."
Skip Schumaker hit a two-run homer for Cincinnati, who lost the opener to Boston
4-3 in 12 innings. It was the Reds 11th one-run loss, most in the majors. "We
play a lot of low scoring, one-run games," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Were
battling and well be whole soon, but until then weve got to find a way to create
some distance between ourselves and our opponent. Itll come down to making every
single play over the course of those last three innings to win the game, and it
cant be like that every single day of a baseball season." Trailing 3-2 in the
eighth, the Red Sox scored against two relievers. "Its tough," Reds left fielder
Chris Heisey said. "We felt like we had the game and let it slip away." Napoli
drew a one-out walk from Manny Parra, J.J. Hoover (1-4) walked pinch-hitter
Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynskis ground-rule double tied it at 3. Jackie Bradley
Jr. was intentionally walked before Middlebrooks had his tiebreaking hit.
Craig Breslow (2-0), who also got the win in Tuesdays game, pitched one hitless
inning. Koji Uehara struck out the final three batters for his eighth save.
Cincinnati starter Mike Leake pitched seven strong innings and was in line for
the win before Boston rallied. He gave up two runs on eight hits, walking two
and striking out four. Bostons Jake Peavy allowed three or fewer runs for the
sixth time in seven starts, giving up three runs on four hits with four walks
and five strikeouts. The Reds took a 3-2 lead in the seventh when
Roger Bernadina bounced a slow groundout to second against reliever
Chris Capuano with the bases loaded. In the bottom half, Heisey made a nice
inning-ending running catch on Shane Victorinos liner into the gap with the
tying run on second. Boston tied it with a pair of runs in the sixth on a
run-scoring single by Ortiz and RBI double by Napoli. It could have been worse
for Leake, but Grady Sizemore bounced to second with runners on second and third
and, after an intentional walk, Bradley Jr. hit an inning-ending grounder.
Schumaker, who came off the 15-day disabled list on Saturday after being
sidelined since spring training with a dislocated left shoulder, homered in the
third after Heisey had a leadoff double. The teams bounced into a combined five
double plays, with the Red Sox turning three. NOTES: Farrell didnt start SS
Xander Bogaerts to "get another left-handed bat in the lineup." Switch-hitter
Jonathan Herrera took his spot and batted ninth. Bogaerts came in as a defensive
replacement in the ninth. ... Leake had given up eight hits and four runs over
seven innings in each of his last two starts. ... Reds RHP Alfredo Simon turned
33 Wednesday. ... The Reds are off until Friday, when they open a six-game
homestand against Colorado with RHP Johnny Cueto (3-2, 1.31 ERA) going against
RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-1, 7.20). After Peavy, Chacin is the second of four
straight starting pitchers the Reds are scheduled to face with the first letter
of their first name starting with the letter "J." The Rockies will are also
slated pitch RHP Jordan Lyles and Juan Nicasio. ... Boston is also off Thursday
before opening a six-game road trip in Texas when RHP Clay Buchholz (2-2, 5.63)
faces Yu Darvish (2-1, 2.87).
Mikko Koivu
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. The 36-year-old Colts receiver is going back to
the playoffs as a division champion.
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. Jamies number grades given are out of
five, with five being the best mark. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers (5) -
Simply put, Lundqvist was brilliant.
.com) - Devan Dubnyk stopped all 30 shots fired his way and made several big
saves down the stretch for his third shutout of the season as the Minnesota Wild
beat the Calgary Flames 1-0 on Tuesday.NEW YORK -- Years before Michael Sam was
born, gay-rights activists Kate Kendell and Paul Guequierre were already
die-hard National Football League fans. Kendell, executive director of the
National Center for Lesbian Rights, grew up in Ogden, Utah, far from any NFL
city, and became a fan of the Los Angeles Rams because shes an Aries and liked
their uniforms. For Guequierre, raised in Whitewater, Wisconsin, and now a
spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, it was a family affair. Treasured
season tickets for the Green Bay Packers were acquired by his grandfather,
passed on to his father, and now are his. The cover photo of his Facebook page
shows the towering statue of a Packers wide receiver. For Kendell, Guequierre
and other gay fans of the NFL, their passion for pro football was rewarded May
10 with a moment they describe as thrilling: the decision by the Rams -- now of
St. Louis -- to make Sam the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. "I
feel like my support for the NFL now doesnt have an asterisk come with it,"
Kendell said. "Its now truly Americas game." The milestone has made gay fans
more enthusiastic and already is drawing newcomers into the fold. Many may
become Rams fans or -- like Guequierre -- henceforth consider St. Louis "my
second favourite team." The NFL says it hasnt done any marketing research to
gauge the size of its gay and lesbian fan base. Gay sports fans surveyed by
Outsports said pro football was their favourite sport by far. Outsports
co-founder Cyd Zeigler said that Sam -- if he makes the Rams roster -- will
further boost the NFLs popularity among gays. "People who have never liked
football are buying Michael Sam jerseys," he said. "People who have never
watched a game watched the draft." As of midweek, Sams Rams jersey was the No. 2
seller among rookies at NFLShop.com, trailing only Johnny Manziel, the Heisman
Trophy-winning quarterback drafted by the Cleveland Browns. Sam -- although
drafted 249th out of 256 players -- also was among just 10 draftees selected by
the league to be featured on special bronze and silver commemorative coins,
according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. Howard Bragman, a public relations
expert who has been working with Sam, expects the NFL and advertisers to
capitalize on fans excitement over Sams debut. "The first time he plays, youre
going to have huge numbers watching," said Bragman, the vice chairman of
Reputation.com. "The NFL is a business," Bragman added. "It understands very
well that LGBT fans are passionate, they have good incomes, theyre concentrated
in NFL cities." Sam already has done a nationally televised ad for Visa. "The
tide has turned," Bragman said. "Martina Navratillova said she lost endorsements
after she came out.
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. Youll find that Michael will do very well."
That doesnt mean the NFLs advertisers will shift their focus away from
heterosexual young males, nor are sexy female cheerleader squads likely to
disappear. But gay fans may be all the more at peace with such things. "We know
who theyre marketing to with those ads," said Guequierre. "Most (gay) people I
know are OK with that. We dont feel like were being left out." Now based in
Washington, D.C., Guequierre, 36, tries to attend at least one Packers home game
per year, and makes his tickets for the other games available to relatives and
friends, including a lesbian couple who are devoted fans. Guequierre said gay
fans, like gay athletes, increasingly feel less pressure to conceal their sexual
orientation while at games. He recalled an incident at a Packers game a few
years ago, when he stood up and vocally scolded a fan behind him who had called
a Chicago Bears player a homophobic slur. "No one else gave me a hard time,"
Guequierre said. "The guy looked embarrassed. ... He came across as the bad
guy." Guequierres passion for football extends to the playing field -- hes an
avid competitor in the D.C. Gay Flag Football League, which has 20 teams and
about 275 players. One of the main sponsors is Nellies Sports Bar, one of a wave
of gay sports bars that have opened up in cities nationwide. Doug Schantz,
co-owner of Nellies, says there are now 25 TVs in the bar, all tuned to sports,
with pro baseball and the NFL neck-and-neck as the most popular. "With the
Redskins, it doesnt matter if theyre bad or good," Schantz said. On the other
side of the country, Kate Kendell has settled into San Francisco, and is a
zealous 49ers fan -- though her girlhood love of the Rams is now rekindled. She
has raised her 17-year-old son to share her football passions. "On Monday
nights, we break with tradition of sitting around the table as family," Kendell
said. "We all watch the game. I leave office early to make sure were there for
kickoff." Kendell expressed delight that gay youths would now be able to grow up
with openly gay sports stars as role models. "Many of my gay male friends are
not sports fans -- not because of lack of interest, but because their earliest
introduction to sports made them feel stigmatized and shamed," she said, evoking
epithets such as "You throw like a girl." "While surely there will continue to
be homophobic remarks, there is a sense of a corner being turned," she said.
"What I feel more than anything is a sense of elation and joy, that the game I
loved since I was a kid I can now embrace without reservations."
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Posted 19 Apr 2017

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