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A Day in the Life of a Major League Baseball Player, Part 2

Continued from Part 1…
As soon as the national anthem is done playing, there is a switch that goes off and electrifies your whole body. It’s a mix of emotions that all mean one thing: “Its ‘GO’ time”. Thats when your mind is cleared of anything other than the game between the lines.
From first base I’m tossing groundballs over to 2nd base, shortstop, and third base. Kolten Wong at 2B (the best defensive shortstop I have ever played with). Johnny Peralta at SS (one of the quietest guys I have ever played with, but loudest with the bat). Matt Carpenter over at the 3 bag, someone I have known since our college battles at UNLV and TCU. Carp was flat-out one of the hardest workers I have ever seen in the game. He was someone that took millions of swings in the cage (without batting gloves mind you) and worked relentlessly with 3rd base/infield coach Jose Oquendo on perfecting his glove work at multiple positions. 
While I’m tossing the ball I’m making sure my footwork and positioning are right as I receive the ball on the bag. I work on lowering my lower half to be flexible when receiving the ball. I learned how to best position myself from Albert Pujols. A Gold Glover, he was one of the best at the position, so at Spring Training he would often break down his thought process around the bag. He would tell us young’ns how taking pride at 1st base would save your infielders from errors and missed opportunities for outs.
From Pitch 1…

I’m feeling flexible and my arm is feeling good. As I see Yadi throw the ball down to second, I recite the same verse I do before every game, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). Then I get into positioning for the leadoff batter. This usually meant getting in on the grass to prepare for a bunt. Even in that first moment, from the first pitch, my senses are heightened. I’m prepared to attack a bunt or snatch a rocket right at my face. Focus. Balance. You have to be ready for anything. 
The emotions running through your body at the beginning of the game, just like at any level, are anxiousness and excitement to make the first play. That usually calms the nerves a little bit and helps to slow the speed of the game down. Athletes often talk about trying to slow the game down, and I think this is only accomplished through repetition and focus. Any one pitch you take off could cost you the game. So, the “next” pitch was just as important as the last.
In between pitches, you might have an opportunity to relax the mind and think about something else for a second:
Kick some dirt around and ask yourself, “Are my kicks looking fresh today?” 
Fix the jersey a little bit and see if the chain is popped out just right.
Check the belt and make sure your pantlegs are pulled up just high enough (shoutout my high-sock fam, but I usually wore mine down). 
Turn to Wong and let him know you might be a step over to the right or left (it doesn’t matter he will cover it all anyway).
Check the scoreboard to make sure your numbers are better than the guy currently at bat. 
Take the hat off and wipe the sweat so people can see the fresh clubhouse cut you just got an hour before the game.
You know, all the important stuff.
I’m doing all this while keeping an eye on Oquendo in the dugout who is giving out defensive signals. I am also keeping an eye on Yadi, as he is often giving his own signals to the corner guys. A lot is going on that you may not realize, but these are all things that a Major Leaguer is tuned into. We work on them day after day. 
After catching a rocket line drive off the bat of Anthony Rizzo its time to go hit. “This is what you’re here for,” I say to myself. I head down to grab my helmet with my batting gloves in it. Of course, you gotta rock a fresh pair of BG’s (especially on TV). Putting on the batting gloves and helmet is like putting on the armor before going to battle. Everyone is meticulous about the way they put on their armor and the way that it fits. If one thing is off, that affects your mind, and that’s unacceptable. You can’t afford to have any distractions when you’ve got 50 milliseconds to earn a living.
I have to pause for a moment to give a shoutout to all the amazing clubbies out there. From keeping the helmet shining down to scrubbing the cleats after practice and games. It makes you feel good knowing you are clean from head to toe as you prepare to enter the battlefield. 
The Walk-Up

Walking to the plate is a remarkable feeling. Jubilation pumping through your veins as you hear your walk-up song blaring throughout the stadium. My favorite walk-up song is by hip-hop artist KB (Just do it). However, while I was with the Cardinals I was rocking with “I Don’t Get Tired” by Kevin Gates. Maybe that’s why I have like six jobs today!

All eyes are on you as you head to the plate. If it is the first at-bat of the day, I would say “What’s up” to the umpire and the catcher behind the dish. This was just a courtesy thing, even though I knew neither one of them is on my side. I usually didn’t like either of them.
The Two Toughest Pitchers I’ve Ever Faced

I have faced some tough pitchers in my career but the two toughest were Aroldis Chapman and Chris Sale. I usually hit lefties really well, but obviously these weren’t your everyday lefties. Both Chapman and Sale are long and lengthy, and the ball seems like it gets on you before you are even ready to hit, not to mention both of them could run it up to 100. Chapman’s fastball is tough to hit on its own, but in one at-bat, he caught me completely off-guard when he dropped a 2-2 change up on me. Not even fair.

As for Chris Sale, the ball looked like it was coming out of the 1st base dugout. Then he would mix that backfoot slider in there and I didn’t know where the ball was starting from or ending. Those were definitely frustrating at bats. 
Looking back, though, some of my best at bats in the Big Leagues came off of some tough pitchers. I’m proud to say I’ve got knocks off of Gerrit Cole, Jacob DeGrom, Chris Young, Edwin Volquez, Yordano Ventura and Jake Arrieta among others. The best thing about those hits was that they were positive contributions to my clubs, the Cardinals and Marlins. Any time you can help yourself by playing well that’s a good thing, but when you can help the team that’s an even better feat. 
I remember when I first reached base against the Cubs, Rizzo reminded me that its OK to smile. He always knows how to keep the game fun and light. That was something that stuck with me throughout my career. Sometimes you just have to be reminded that this is a kid’s game and it is supposed to be fun.
Fastest Man in the World (JK)
I can’t talk about being a Big Leaguer without mentioning what my first stolen base felt like. It came off of Jason Hammel; catching was Miguel Montero. I was surprised to see the sign from Oquendo at third base. I think I even looked back at the first base coach to double check, like, “you seeing what I’m seeing?” He discreetly gave me the head nod and then I knew it was time to go. Good thing the legs were feeling good. I remember getting off the bag and getting into my primary lead. I then told myself to get an extra step on the lead, but I’m sure my legs were shaking so much that my toe barely moved. As soon as Hammels leg popped up, I was on the move. I accelerated a couple of steps and checked in to see if my teammate Jon Jay made contact. To my (bad) luck, it was a fastball up and out of the zone, basically a pitch-out (the worse pitch to run on). Needless to say, I got the jump I needed and slid into second base safely just as the ball bounced in. I even nailed a perfect pop-up slide.
I felt like the fastest man in the world! “This must be how Rickey Henderson feels,” I said to myself. 
To be continued…

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Arima Kinen

Lys Gracieux Produces First Foal

Monday, February 8, 2021 at 5:23 pm |
Back to: Shared News Europe Updated: February 8, 2021 at 5:34 pm
Lys Gracieux colt by Maurice | Courtesy Northern Horse Park

By Alan Carasso Between them, they won two Japanese Horse of the Year titles, three additional divisional awards and four major races on foreign soil. Late Sunday evening, Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry Jpn) was represented by her first foal when she produced a colt by the brilliant Maurice (Jpn) (Screen Hero Jpn).
Trained by Yoshito Yahagi and carrying the green-and-white colours of Carrot Farm, Lys Gracieux retired to stud in 2019 after winning seven of her 22 trips to the post, four of which came at the highest level. The dark bay, now seven, defeated her peers for a maiden Group 1 in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup in 2018 before just failing to catch Exultant (Ire) (Teofilo Ire) in that year’s G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase. She concluded her career with defeats of males in her final three appearances–the G1 Takarazuka Kinen, the G1 Cox Plate in Melbourne (see below) and a smashing five-length success over two-time Horse of the Year Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa Jpn) and others in the G1 Arima Kinen (video). She was named Horse of the Year in 2019.

WATCH: Lys Gracieux rolls home in the Cox Plate

Maurice was campaigned by Kazumi Yoshida and came to hand as a 4-year-old, winning the G1 Yasuda Kinen, G1 Mile Championship and G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile in succession in 2015 to secure Horse of the Year honours. He added an additional three top-level scores in 2016, easily taking the G1 Champions’ Mile back at Sha Tin in May before wrapping up his career with facile wins in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) and G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup, both over 2000 metres.
From his first crop to the races in 2020, Maurice was the sire of 32 winners for progeny earnings of better than ¥393 million. He was second to Duramente (Jpn) in each of those categories. He is the sire of Group 3 winner Pixie Knight (Jpn) and four other black-type performers.
Maurice is also the sire of 3-year-old colt Buena Ventura (Jpn), a son of 2010 Horse of the Year Buena Vista (Jpn) (Special Week Jpn), and is also responsible for the 3-year-old filly Geraldina (Jpn), whose dam Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact Jpn) was Japan’s Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2014. Gentildonna is due to Maurice for 2021.

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This story was posted in Shared News Europe and tagged Arima Kinen, Carrot Farm, Cox Plate, Horse of the Year, Horse Racing, Japan, Kazumi Yoshida, Lys Gracieux (Jpn), Maurice.

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Luis Suarez: Player Rating and performance versus Celta

Atletico Madrid took a small step towards the Primera Division title on Monday as they draw 2-2 at home to Celta thanks to a double from Luis Suarez.It was very nearly typical clinical performance from Diego Simeone’s men, who had former Barcelona and Liverpool striker Suarez at his best as they moved to within a hair of the win as he scored either side of half-time after Santi Mina had put the visitors into the lead.Celta, however, hit back late on to give Barcelona and Real Madrid a glimmer of hope in the title race.Here’s how Suarez’s game panned out.Atletico Madrid 2-1 Celta Player Ratings, Match Stats, Player Stats📷 Luis Suarez: Match SnapshotIt was a frustrating start to the game for Atletico Madrid as they struggled to make inroads after Santi Mina dived to head the visiting side into the lead. As half-time approached, they had not even managed a shot on target…⚽ ⏱️ 45′ Marcos Llorente finds space on the right and delivers a wonderful pass towards Luis Suarez. Rushing towards the visiting goal, he slides to covert with his right foot. It’s a big turning point in the game.⚽ ⏱️ 50′ This time the danger comes from the left. Geoffrey Kondogbia finds Lodi, whose low cross along the six-yard box is met by the unmarked Suarez.Even his efforts, though, were not enough to stop Celta snatching a late leveller through Facundo Ferreyra.〽️ Luis Suarez: Rating Week-on-Week✔️ IMPROVEMENTSuarez is currently one of the most in-form strikers in the world game, yet his 8.3 FC Rating is still the best he has managed in 2021. Seven goals in his last four games and 11 strikes in his last nine outings means that he is consistently scoring well, though.🗝️ Key Stats Luis Suarez match statsStatisticValueNotesFC Rating8.1Man of the MatchMins Played90Goals2Shots2Rank #1Shots on Target2Rank #1Touches in the box6Rank #1Suarez: What Next?Suarez’s form can scarcely get any better and is one of the chief reasons that Atletico Madrid are eight points clear at the top of La Liga. Trips to Granada and Levante follow next week, with the side from Valencia visiting the capital three days later after the midweek match. All Suarez can do is work to maintain this incredible scoring streak.Luis Suarez: Player Statistics, Career Stats and PositionAtletico Madrid 2-1 Celta Player Ratings, Match Stats, Player Stats


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Start the Patrick Surtain II Hype Train

The Super Bowl just wrapped up with another Tom Brady-inspired victory, and it’s time for the Minnesota Vikings offseason. Aside from Gary Kubiak’s retirement, his son’s subsequent promotion to dad’s old job, and a little false trade-Kirk-Cousins scuttlebutt, the Vikings “month off” during playoff time has remained quiet.
Now that can change. The offseason has arrived.

Foremost, general manager Rick Spielman has some excruciating decisions to make on the roster existences of Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Harris, Anthony Barr, and Riley Reiff. At least one of those names will return in 2021 – probably – and maybe even two. But half of those four longtime Vikings will play football for another NFL team next season. And it’s all about money.
After that, Minnesota must evaluate its remaining dollars, if any, for free agency. The Vikings have naughty holes on the offensive line, and the defensive line could likely stand an upgrade at a position or two. Spielman might find the necessary coin to land one big-name free agent (or handful of smaller names). Most Vikings loyalists would nominate a stud offensive guard like Brandon Scherff of Joe Thuney for this assignment.
The final piece to the offseason puzzle is the draft – which the Vikings nailed in 2020. Minnesota must have a 2020-like draft this April to preserve its win-now Super Bowl aspirations. Otherwise, butt cheeks will roast for the Vikings coaching staff in late December.

That’s the offseason agenda in a nutshell. A customary kickoff for the draft hype train begins with Patrick Surtain II, a highly-touted cornerback from the University of Alabama.
Uncertainty with Mike Hughes
Surtain II, 20, would be a stellar addition to virtually any NFL franchise – if scouting reports are telling the truth. Son of former NFLer, Patrick Surtain, the junior Surtain was phenomenal in college. He won a National Championship last month, won Unanimous All-American honors in 2020, and was the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

In April, Surtain is slated as a Top 15 selection and probably closer to Top 10 or Top 8. The Vikings sit at pick No. 14, so the team can hope Surtain II falls to them or trade up a bit to secure his services.
The primary reason Surtain II would be plucked by the Vikings is the uncertainty surrounding Mike Hughes. There is no consensus – at all – if the 23-year old Hughes will pan out. Minnesota selected him with a 1st-Round pick in 2018, but Hughes has battled injury ad nauseam since his addition to the team. When he plays, Hughes is quite good. He is not Pro Bowl-ish, and that is probably because of his young age. In theory, if he can stay healthy, he should mature into his true form in 2021 and beyond.

But can the Vikings bank on that? What if he falls injured again? Then, the team is left with the same scenario as last season – two young corners in Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney and a hodgepodge of project players.
That didn’t go swimmingly in 2020.
Can a Team Have Too Many CBs?
Head coach Mike Zimmer loves his cornerbacks. There are jokes aplenty about it. His background fancies defensive secondaries, so naturally, he loves to encourage his general manager to grab them in the 1st-Round. And that’s when Surtain II enters the chat.
If Surtain II tumbles in April’s draft – yes, that happens – he is probably too irresistible for a Zimmer-led squad to ignore. The Vikings were owners of the NFL’s ninth-worst passing defense in 2020 – a wildly disappointing departure from the Zimmer standard of 2014-2019. Zimmer has ammunition ready to make this a defensive-themed draft.
Hughes, theoretically, will help anchor the secondary, but what if he’s injury-prone once again? The team is left with Dantzler, Gladney, and others. Surtain II would be a scintillating “other.” Should Hughes show up in Week 1 and shut down receivers right and left – boom – Surtain II will be an observer to astute cornerback play and can potentially in fill gaps during Dantzler and Gladney’s absence.
The NFL gets pass-happier each season. “Too many good cornerbacks” is an odd complaint – especially the affordable ones that the Vikings currently employ.
The Karl Scott Connection
Last week, Minnesota hired Karl Scott from – you guessed it – the University of Alabama to coach the team’s defensive backs. Scott coached Surtain II for the Crimson Tide. This is where the hype train starts chugging.
Coaches enjoy “their players,” and Scott would likely not object to bringing Surtain II from the collegiate level to the pros right along with him.  Scott should know Surtain II better than anybody in the country, hence a package of Scott-Surtain II to Minnesota adds up.
Now for the difficult part: The Vikings must hope Surtain II doesn’t fly off the board in the Top 10 – because then Spielman would have to move-and-shake via trade to land his surfaces.
But Surtain is dangerously close to the Vikings in some mock drafts. Check out Bleacher Report’s post-Super Bowl edition.


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2021 vikings coaching staff

Did the Vikings Do the Right Thing with Klimt Kubiak Hire?

It is cliché now because of widespread mention, but the Minnesota Vikings will have their sixth offensive coordinator in eight seasons when the team kicks off this September.

On Monday, the Vikings made the oft-predicted promotion of Klint Kubiak official at offensive coordinator. Klint, 33, is the son of Gary Kubiak who retired at the end of the 2020 season. Father Gary propelled the Vikings to the league’s fourth-best offense via yards gained and 11th-most prolific with points scored. He also seized a Super Bowl ring as head coach in 2015 when the Denver Broncos and a red-hot defense toppled the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 by a score of 24-10.

All eyes turn to son-Kubiak as Minnesota’s offense has constantly endured a state of flux since 2016. Norv Turner mysteriously retired in 2016. He was replaced by Pat Shurmur – who led the offense to the 2017 NFC Championship. Then, Shurmur was plucked for a head coaching gig with the New York Giants. Minnesota turned to John DeFilippo, a coach that experienced an abbreviated tenure when Mike Zimmer terminated him in 2018. After that, a Klint Kubiak-like choice was made with the elevation of Kevin Stefanski. Both men were internal, homegrown brains. Stefanski left in 2020 to be the skipper for the Cleveland Browns. It worked out. Stefanski was the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 2020.

These events caused Zimmer to call on Father Gary for the job last year. Now, it is time for the Klint to get the audition. 

With what Zimmer seeks to accomplish inside the Vikings offense, Klint Kubiak is the right choice for the enterprise at the moment.

Kubiak Adds Youth

The craze of late by NFL general managers and fans is to find a young, offensive-minded coach to funnel points into box scores. For head coaching circumstances, the process is implemented with frequency. The national dialogue applauds those that have worked out – Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur, and Kyle Shanahan. On the hires in this vein that do not – Adam Gase or Freddie Kitchens, for example – well, nobody cares.

Although Minnesota’s offense kept the franchise afloat in 2020, the play-calling was criticized as vanilla in spots. Other franchises utilize more motion than the Vikings, so Minnesota’s fourth-ranked yards production must be fool’s good, right? Something like that.

Klint Kubiak, at age 33, brings youth to the offense – at least with a birth certificate. A verdict on youth-infused play-calling will be rendered this autumn. For now, though, the Vikings have another Kubiak in-house. And he just so happens to be about the same age as quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The youth movement, if only for an offseason – wins.

Zimmer Gets His Continuity 

When the Vikings failed to reach the postseason, Zimmer capped the 2020 season by praising the offense and lambasting his own defense – an oddity for the 64-year-old as his commentaries are generally the inverse.

Zimmer explicitly called for offensive continuity immediately after Father Gary called it quits. There is no better option anywhere on the planet to actionize this desire than son-Klint. Genetically, he is not the same human. But of all the other humans out there in the mix for offensive coordinator jobs, Klint is obviously the closest heritable brain available to that of his father. 

Perhaps Vikings enthusiasts are a bit too far ahead of themselves in professing that the Kubiaks will run identical offenses. Yet the promotion of Klint ensures that the Vikings offense will be somewhat similar to the brand on display in 2020. And that’s what Zimmer craves. 

Ideally, Klint will blend some youthful flair and creativity with his father’s battle-tested playbook. That’s the utopian scenario. Remain a Top 5 offensive group while modernizing and taking an accelerated amount of deep shots to wide receivers, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson.

One can dream.  

Inheritance of Talented, Productive Group

Indeed, Klint must do a lot more than “not messing it up.” His last name alone will assuredly not guarantee the success his father generated in 2020. 

But Klint has dynamic pieces to work with — much like Father Gary. Dalvin Cook is the second-best running back in the league behind Derrick Henry. On several Sundays, Cook is the best in the world.

He inherits a scorching-hot commodity in the 21-year-old Justin Jefferson. Captain Reliable, Adam Thielen, will return for his eighth NFL campaign. The Vikings will employ Irv Smith Jr. and probably Tyler Conklin at tight end. Smith Jr. is on the cusp of a breakout season. He can find that within Klint’s offense.

Finally, Kirk Cousins will take the reins of an offense in his seventh season as a starter. If Cousins plans to lead a team to a Super Bowl, the time is nearing. Quarterbacks do not typically “wait” until their late-30s to begin winning championships, unless their name is ‘John Elway’ (and Elway lost a couple before he started winning them).

Klint Kubiak will control an offense for a team that is in win-now mode. His youth and continuity-driven philosophy make him the correct man for the task. It just makes sense. 

If he performs astutely, he will likely be given a head coach job in Minnesota or elsewhere in the next few years. Sound familiar?

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Acquisitions & Partnerships

Rich Goldman Holdings Limited issues profit warning


Asian junket operator Rich Goldman Holdings Limited has reportedly announced that it expects to detail a loss of approximately $2.32 million for the six months to the end of December owing to depressed demand linked to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, the Hong-based firm revealed that it intends to publish its audited financial results for the six-month period at the end of February with the anticipated result set to represent a decrease of 200% year-on-year. The source detailed that the enterprise formerly known as Neptune Group Limited blamed the expected shortfall on coronavirus alongside the cessation in April of its long-standing association with a fellow junket firm that had run eight VIP gaming tables inside Macau’s iconic Casino Grand Lisboa property, which is owned by SJM Holdings Limited.
Compounding concern:
Rich Goldman Holdings Limited reportedly divulged that associated six-month revenues from its hotel operations are moreover expected to have crashed by at least $258,000 year-on-year due to the coronavirus-induced downturn in business to leave it with a minimum impairment loss of some $1.5 million and a fair value setback on its investment properties of around $774,000.
Promising prospects:
However, the Hong Kong-listed operator reportedly also explained that these losses are to be partially offset by an expected increase of about $645,000 in revenues from its money lending business. It pronounced that its prospects are to furthermore benefit from an alliance it signed in December that is to see it launch a VIP gaming parlor inside the Philippines’ 800-room Solaire Resort and Casino venue from Bloomberry Resorts Corporation.
Read a statement (pdf) from Rich Goldman Holdings Limited…
“The company is still in the course of finalizing the results for the 2020 interim period. Therefore, the actual financial results for the 2020 interim period may differ from the information contained in this announcement. Shareholders and potential investors are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the shares of the company.”

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IND vs ENG | Virat Kohli will be eager to right the wrongs of 2020, reckons Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar believes Indian skipper Virat Kohli is due a big one, and reckons the 32-year-old will be keen to set his record straight, after failing to score a ton in the calendar year 2020. After missing three Tests in the Australia tour, Kohli was dismissed for 11 in the first innings.The ongoing first Test between India and England marked the return of Virat Kohli to the international scene and lying ahead of the Indian skipper is a massive year. 2020 was the first calendar year of cricket in an entire decade where Kohli went the whole year without a century, across formats, and in particular, the 32-year-old endured a torrid time in the longest format. Across 6 Test innings in 2020, Kohli averaged a meagre 19.33, notching up a solitary fifty-plus score.If India are to salvage a draw out of the ongoing Test, they would need their skipper to turn up the heat, and Sunil Gavaskar reckons that Kohli will be eager to turn his fortunes with the bat around. Gavaskar believes Kohli is ‘due a big score’ and claimed that it was bizarre to see Kohli endure a lean run in 2020.”I just think that he is due for a big score. Last year was the first when he didn’t have a hundred, in any form of the game, which is so rare,” Gavaskar said on Star Sports, reported Hindustan Times.”For the last seven-eight years, every single year, he’s got at least five-six hundreds in all forms of the game. Last year, I knew we had the pandemic, but still very rare to see that Virat Kohli did not have a three-figure score. And 2021, he’d be hoping to change that.”Ever since making his debut, Kohli has developed a reputation of being a clutch player who stands up when the team’s back is against the wall. With India needing to bat 100-odd overs in order to save the first Test in Chennai, the side will need all of Kohli’s bottle in order to come out of the contest unscathed. Gavaskar believes pressure well and truly brings the best out of the Indian skipper.”Pressure is what brings the best out of Virat Kohli. And we’ve seen that time and again over the years then when he’s got his back to the wall is when he plays his best cricket. Sometimes when you’re batting at No. 4 and you’re 200/2 when you go in to bat, you tend to think that batting is easy. He knows now that batting is not easy and he’s got to put everything out there and focus.”Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .

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5 Dream Poker Trips: My Post-Pandemic List

Chatting with my good friends and poker industry colleagues always gives my day a much-needed dose of positivity in these challenging times. One of our latest conversations revolved around traveling and how the COVID-19 crisis really puts our short time on this earth in perspective.
Some of the dream trips I’ve always wanted to take need to move from the “dream” category and into reality when the pandemic finally subsides. I got to cross one of my bucket list trips off the list in summer 2019 when I enjoyed the opportunity to cover the 2019 EPT Barcelona for Cardplayer Lifestyle.
My travels as a PokerNews live reporter have allowed me to visit several incredible cities and poker events, too. For the past 11 months, however, I haven’t traveled more than two hours outside of San Diego, and I know that COVID-19 restrictions in some areas of the world don’t allow people to stray even that far from home. I know that many folks have even turned to video poker to get the occasional fix, and I can’t blame them! We all miss the game!
For now, I’m daydreaming about a time when the poker world, and the real world, goes back to something resembling pre-2020 times, but once circumstances allow, I’m planning on visiting all of the following poker events and venues. The following rundown includes my top five dream poker trips, post-pandemic.
Aussie Millions
I caught up with quite a few colleagues from the PokerNews live reporting team while at the 2019 EPT Barcelona for Cardplayer Lifestyle. PokerNews Head of Live Reporting EU/ROW Yori Epskamp told me that flying a reporter out from San Diego to cover European events probably wouldn’t happen all that often. He still wanted to know if there were any upcoming ROW events I’d be interested in, however.
“Just not the Aussie Millions,” Yori added, as that was one of the most-requested assignments among the live reporter team.

800 & climbing!!!! https://t.co/Y5MEVGevB1
— Aussie Millions (@AussieMillions) January 19, 2020

Australia, in general, represents one of my bucket list trips, but I can’t imagine anything better than centering that trip around a visit to the Aussie Millions. The Crown Melbourne announced that the 2021 Aussie Millions, which typically would have run in January, is on hold for now.
Can I possibly make it out to Melbourne for Australia’s biggest poker festival by 2022 or 2023? I certainly hope so. There might not be a more ambitious poker trip to take for fans based in the US, but the Aussie Millions sits at the top of my dream poker destinations list.
EPT Monte Carlo
I can’t think of a more intriguing international destination than Monte Carlo. If you’re drawn to poker and the high stakes gambling world in general, Monte Carlo presents perhaps the ultimate trip.
Like many poker festivals, the immediate future of the EPT Monte Carlo is on hold for now. The prestigious event generally runs in late April and early May, but the EPT hasn’t yet made an official announcement regarding the possibility of running the EPT Monte Carlo in 2021.
Image courtesy of PokerStars
Some EPT live events have already been announced for 2021, however, and we have good reason to hope for at least a 2022 return of the EPT Monte Carlo.
In some future year, the Monte Carlo Casino will once again host the EPT, and hopefully, I’ll get to cross this dream poker trip off the list!
partypoker Caribbean Poker Party
The live poker tournament circuit offers but rare opportunities to travel to the Caribbean per year under normal circumstances.
I consider the partypoker Caribbean Poker Party a dream poker trip and would love to attend it sometime in the next few years.

FYI: Caribbean Poker Party postponed but will run online @partypoker
Spoke to Baha Mar, still not open, we have agreed with them to postpone CPP until 2021 but will run CPP Online – details to follow
Not much can say except will make 2021 an amazing experience😫KTF Rob pic.twitter.com/j3BmCmJ78b
— Rob Yong (@rob_yong_) September 27, 2020

Like many big festivals, the partypoker CPP was forced to reinvent as an online-only event for 2020. The live version of the festival usually takes place in November, however, and perhaps by then, the Baha Mar in the Bahamas will play host to what could be the most epic Caribbean Poker Party yet.
Battle of Malta
The Battle of Malta operates as one of the unique events on the crowded live poker tournament calendar. Out of all of the tournaments on my poker “bucket list,” this is the one that offers the chance to actually play a couple of tournaments at my bankroll level!
The Battle of Malta annually offers a slate of tournaments at low-to-mid-stakes buy-ins. The prize pools for the festival tournaments often stretch into six- and seven-figure territory though.

#BattleofMalta Day 1d has ended (at 3.40am) with 263 players in the money & through to Day 2. The Day 1e turbo continues: 634 entries, 154 left, aiming for 95. Total # of entries – 4,657 (841 more than 2018)👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/6YC0wF7CJ9
— Battle Of Malta (@BattleOfMalta) October 20, 2019

The affordability and atmosphere offered at the Battle of Malta draw huge attendance each year to Casino Malta by Olympic Casino.
Like Monte Carlo, I’m so intrigued by Malta itself and can’t wait to take a trip to the island nation in the Mediterranean Sea to soak in the Battle of Malta experience!
PokerGO Studio
This one shouldn’t be too hard to cross off the list. Even though I live just a few hours away, the PokerGO Studio at Aria Las Vegas makes my list of must-see poker destinations.
The PokerGO Studio sits at the epicenter of poker television in 2021. The second coming of High Stakes Poker marks the latest must-see poker program emanating from the PokerGO Studio, which stands as a one-of-a-kind venue in the poker world.

High-stakes tournaments like the Super High Roller Bowl and Poker Masters have a perfect home, the PokerGO Studio. Since debuting in May 2018, the studio already garners a reputation as a legendary poker venue.
The next time I travel to Las Vegas, a trip to the PokerGO Studio is happening.
About Geoff FiskGeoff Fisk’s infatuation with poker began as he watched Chris Moneymaker go on his legendary run to win the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event. Geoff took his first shot at online poker in 2006 and continued to grind it out on the virtual tables for the better part of a decade, before taking a break from the game in 2015.
Geoff worked as a tournament reporter for PokerListings at the WSOP in 2009 and 2010 and found that writing about the game was even better than playing! His favorite players to interview were Sam Farha and Daniel Negreanu.

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Super Bowl LV: Bucs shut down Chiefs, Brady wins 7th

With so many incredible storylines heading into the game, many of us were convinced that this would be one for the ages. I, myself, called it the “Passing the Torch” Bowl (https://worldinsport.com/super-bowl-lv-passing-the-torch/), and several others played it up as the Greatest of All Time versus the Greatest of this Time. Sadly, we did not get that game in Super Bowl LV.
It appears the Super Bowl LV headlines we should have been paying more attention to were the Chiefs playing without Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Or maybe about how great the Buccaneers pass rush is, or how lockdown their secondary can be. In previous articles, I highlighted the dominance of Devin White and Sean Murphy-Bunting (https://worldinsport.com/buccaneers-d-frustrates-the-saints-chiefs-hold-on-without-mahomes/), yet somehow I believed the Kansas City offense could handle anything.
We also should have taken more time to focus on how great Tampa Bay’s offensive line is. Minus the first couple series, Tom Brady stayed clean throughout Super Bowl LV. Huge holes were opened for Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones when it came time to consume the clock. The screens were unstoppable and the big play was open, as a result of the dominance from the O-line. For more on the OL’s Super Bowl LV performance: https://touchdownwire.usatoday.com/2021/02/07/super-bowl-lv-super-bowl-55-ali-marpet-tom-brady-ryan-jensen-buccaneers/fbclid=IwAR1RZAhWEpCBRCc7Cc0DdaINy5gWlESkQudi6IEBhZeehuz_iz2YlnGCJIU
Enough talking about what the headlines should have been. Let’s take the rest of our time to acknowledge some greatness, and how it was on display in Super Bowl LV. Let’s talk about our 2021 World Champion and Super Bowl LV victors, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here are my top 5 individual performances
Tom Brady wins number 7

Tom Brady Wins His 7Th Super Bowl And 5Th Super Bowl Mvp
The Super Bowl LV MVP himself, Tommy Terrific, earns a historic 7th Super Bowl ring and cements his legacy as the GOAT. Many of his critics (including me) have been hesitant to call him that, wanting to say that Belichick could have gone on the same run with Manning or Rodgers. After Super Bowl LV, however, I’m tired of denying the truth: Brady is the Greatest of All Time.
Now, I’m not saying that I think he was the best player on the field last night. I am not saying he earned the Super Bowl LV MVP, as I believe a few of his teammates were more deserving. He was, however, the greatest story of the night. With that 7th ring, he now has more Super Bowl victories than any other TEAM in the history of the NFL.
Brady’s game performance was also great. Behind a clean pocket, he completed 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns. And these weren’t just tacked on touchdowns at the end, these were the 3 scores that gave the Buccaneers a 21-6 lead at halftime. His brilliant leadership and age-defying talent were on full display, as he skilful exposed the Chiefs secondary.
To go with this unprecedented 7th ring, this was his 5th Super Bowl MVP. It would be hard to imagine these marks notwithstanding the test of time. https://www.buccaneers.com/news/tom-brady-named-super-bowl-lv-mvp-sblv-55-buccaneers
Shaq Barrett owned Mahomes personal space

Shaq Barrett Hounded Pat Mahomes All Day Sacking Him Twice 1
Someone who is only observing the stat line might quickly question why they should care about Shaq Barrett. He only had 1 regular tackle, 1 stuff and 1 quarterback sack on paper, but that does not even come close to covering his impact.
Now, I know I’m going to draw flack for saying this, but Barrett was the true MVP of Super Bowl LV. Anyone who took the time to pay attention to number 58 during the game, clearly saw him in the backfield over half the plays he was on the field. A quick scroll through Buccaneers’ photo gallery of top plays will verify his impact: https://www.buccaneers.com/photos/best-photos-from-chiefs-vs-buccaneers-super-bowl-lv#43950c61-bd3d-4798-b97b-e2a802585a12
Early in the game, Barrett was all over Mahomes on key incompletions that stalled promising Chiefs’ drives. Noticed Mahomes limping? It started after Shaq knocked him down. Remember the other two Tampa sacks? Barrett was there assisting them, despite not receiving credit. I know JPP and Suh were brilliant, but Shaq was the leader of the pass rush last night.
If it wasn’t for the fact that Mahomes is so brilliant at extending the play, and willing to just throw it up for grabs, Barrett would have easily collected 3+ sacks. Instead, his value is measured in pressures and knockdowns. The Bucs defensive line pressured Mahomes on an NFL record 52% of his dropbacks. Barrett and his fellow linemen won Super Bowl LV in the KC backfield.
Devin White was anywhere and everywhere

Devin White Owned The Center Of The Field Versus The Chiefs
Everyone on the Tampa defense made their fair share of plays, but no one seemed to be in the middle of them more than Devin White. Whether it crunching Tyreek Hill for crossing over the middle or punishing Mahomes for tucking the ball and running, White was a tackling machine that seldom allowed the play to get past him. He accumulated 12 total tackles during Super Bowl LV.
It’s not just the tackling that makes White brilliant, however, its his vision and ability to go wherever he is needed on any given play. Many times during Super Bowl LV, he could be seen with tight coverage of the receiver slanting over the shallow center. It didn’t matter whether it was Tyreek, Kelce or CEH, he kept up with each, and when he did allow a catch, he punished them.
White also converged into the Chiefs’ backfield many times, delivering a pair of stuffs and breaking up several plays before they came to fruition. And when all was all but said and done, it was White who intercepted Mahomes one final time, to put the icing on Super Bowl LV. As a captain, he led the Bucs D to a historic night versus the high-powered Chiefs offense.
In total, White had 12 total tackles, 2 stuffs, 1 defended pass and 1 interception.
Gronk hits the history books again

Gronk Scores His First Of Two And The Games First Touchdown
Before Super Bowl LV began, Jerry Rice was the only receiver to ever score multiple touchdowns in multiple Super Bowls. Move over Rice, and make some room for Gronk. At the start of the second quarter, Rob Gronkowski hauled in his second touchdown pass from Brady and entered the history books yet again.
In addition to this achievement, his 5 Super Bowl touchdowns put him second on the Super Bowl receiving touchdown list. Only Rice remains ahead of him with 8.
Gronk’s night doesn’t rely on it being historic for it to be impactful, but rather the opposite. His first touchdown gave Tampa a 7-3 lead (which they would never relinquish), and his second put them up 14-3. These touchdowns turned out to be early back-breakers that KC would never come back from, rather than just tack on points. Legendary and clutch describe Gronk’s 6 receptions for 67 yards and 2 scores.
Lavonte David keeps Kelce in “check”

Lavonte David Gave Travis Kelce Trouble All Day Long
I thought back and forth whether this should be Leonard Fournette or Lavonte David. I know, Fournette piled up 135 total yards and a second-half score that put Tampa Bay up 28-9. I know, Fournette helped to control the clock and run out the game in the second half. Playoff Lenny was a key contributor to the Bucs post-season run and Super Bowl LV victory and thus deserves this honorable mention.
What Lavonte David did, however, was special. David lined up against arguably the best player on the field and held him in check. Yes, I know that Travis Kelce still caught 10 receptions for 133 yards, but those numbers are very skewed. On all but two drives, David helped to keep Kelce a non-factor. And even on those two drives, he held him out of the end-zone.
Kelce had a historic season and was key to Chiefs’ victories throughout the playoffs. David had plenty of help but knew that Kelce was his responsibility. And he rose to the challenge. Lavonte managed to contain Kelce before the game got out of control, breaking up passes, hitting him hard and ensuring the tackle when the completion was made. He defended 2 passes to go with 6 tackles, while containing KC’s top weapon.
A few final thoughts…
Despite the horrible defeat, Patrick Mahomes played the gutsiest game of his career, hobbling on one leg while taking a constant beating. We hope for a successful surgery and speedy off-season recovery.
Antoine Winfield Jr secured an interception and proved he will be one of the best safeties of the next generation. Though trolling a team when you are blowing them out is poor sportsmanship, when you do it to Tyreek Hill you are a hero.
Sean Murphy-Bunting and Charlton Davis are both elite corners who can hang with anyone. They match up with speed incredibly well.
Barrett, JPP, Suh and Vita Vea are the most dominant front four in football. Sorry, Pittsburg.
Travis Kelce had a “bad” game and still caught 10 passes for 133 yards. He is the best receiver in the NFL.
The Tom Brady versus Tyrann Mathieu accentuates the poor officiating of the first half. I’m not saying the officiating team was unfair or on the Bucs side, but I am saying that a decent officiating staff would not have allowed the game to devolve to that point. Also, Brady could just as easily (if not moreso deserved) that flag.
And finally, the streaker was the highlight of the second half, and Kevin Harlan is an absolute legend!

The World Champion Buccaneers demolish the Chiefs, 31-9 in Super Bowl LV
For complete log and stats of Super Bowl LV: https://www.nfl.com/games/chiefs-at-buccaneers-2020-post-4
Follow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for more stories on their historic season and highlights of their Super Bowl LV victory: https://www.buccaneers.com/
With Super Bowl LV in the books, and the off-season beginning, here’s a little look at how some of the other 30 NFL franchises are doing: https://worldinsport.com/jaguars-jets-and-several-others-start-anew-at-head-coach/
Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/J_MiL4Real


Woodbine Raceway horse racing betting

Hollie Doyle felt ‘intimidated’ by stewards during an enquiry at Kempton when handed a six-day ban

Jockey Hollie Doyle felt ‘intimidated’ by stewards during an enquiry at Kempton when handed a six-day ban for use of the whipDoyle told an appeal hearing that she had felt ‘intimidated’ during an enquiry She was banned for her use of the whip during a race at Kempton on January 30The BHA say they continue to work with stewards on ‘process and procedure’By Marcus Townend for the Daily Mail Published: 17:30 EST, 8 February 2021 | Updated: 17:32 EST, 8 February 2021 The BHA say they continue to work with race-day stewards on ‘process and procedure’ after Hollie Doyle told an appeal hearing that she had felt ‘intimidated’ during an enquiry at Kempton last month when handed a six-day ban for use of the whip.Doyle lost her appeal with the independent panel, who were played an audio recording of the original hearing. They were satisfied she had been able to make her points.Doyle told the appeal panel: ‘I’m thick-skinned but I felt intimidated in the enquiry. I was repeatedly interrupted and spoken over. The tone in which I was spoken to backed me into a corner and left me no way to describe the incident. I would hate for a younger jockey to feel the way I did.’ Hollie Doyle told an appeal hearing that she had felt ‘intimidated’ during an enquiryA BHA spokesman said: ‘It is important that all parties involved in a stewards’ enquiry have faith in the process and feel that they are given the opportunity to state their views in an objective environment.‘Over the past two years, the BHA have developed and facilitated training for all stewards on process and procedure, and further professional development in this regard is ongoing and planned in 2021.’Meanwhile, freezing temperatures are already threatening Saturday’s meeting at Newbury, due to feature the return of Champ in the Denman Chase. Any plan to restage the meeting would depend on terrestrial TV backing.

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