David Beckham won't be in London Olympics

628770.jpg

David Beckham won't be in London Olympics

From Comcast SportsNet
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Beat it, Beckham. That was essentially the message given former England captain David Beckham, who was told he failed to make the British soccer team for the London Olympics -- the very games he helped secure for his country. One of the most recognizable sportsmen in the world, Beckham seemed a certainty after making the 35-man shortlist but was informed by coach Stuart Pearce on Wednesday night that he had not made the final squad. There are only three places allowed for players over the age of 23. "Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me, so I would have been honored to have been part of this unique Team GB squad," the 37-year-old Beckham said in a statement Thursday. "Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold." London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe praised Beckham's commitment to London since it won the bid in 2005 and indicated there could still be a role for him at the Olympics, though not in a sporting capacity. "David has been an extraordinary supporter, probably our No. 1 supporter, of the games from the very beginning and is keen to continue his enthusiastic support right to the end," Coe said. "He really gets this. He is from east London and knows how important the games and sport are to young people. He is a great role model and we are lucky to have such an advocate. I will be talking to him about a games-time role." British bookmaker Ladbrokes slashed the odds on Beckham being given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame at the July 27 opening ceremony, making him 5-1. Five-time rowing gold medalist Steve Redgrave is the 1-2 favorite. For his part, Beckham has so far only said he hopes to attend the Olympics and support the 550-strong British team. "As a Londoner, I will have been really proud to have played a small part in bringing the Olympics to my home town as part of Seb's team, and I can't wait for the games to begin and enjoy every moment along with the rest of Great Britain," Beckham said. The British Olympic Association said it had not yet been informed by the English Football Association, which is running the team, that Beckham had been snubbed by Pearce. The coach was in the United States to assess Beckham's form and fitness as a Major League Soccer midfielder for the Los Angeles Galaxy. "We are expecting the list no later than the early part of next week," the BOA said in a statement. The decision by Pearce almost certainly spells the end of Beckham's career representing his country, having made 115 England appearances -- a record for an outfield player -- with the last coming in 2009. It also denies Beckham a chance to be reunited with his former Manchester United teammate Ryan Giggs on the international stage when Britain fields its first Olympic football team since 1960. Giggs, fellow Welshman Craig Bellamy and English defender Micah Richards will be the overage players on the squad, a person familiar with the situation said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because team details haven't been released. It appears Beckham lost his place to the 24-year-old Richards, who plays for Manchester City and will provide extra defensive cover after missing out on England's European Championship squad. The 32-year-old Bellamy is a forward at Liverpool who, like Giggs and Richards, has never appeared at a major international football tournament. Britain plays its opening match against Senegal at Old Trafford on July 26, faces the United Arab Emirates three days later at Wembley and Uruguay on Aug. 1 at the Millennium Stadium. Britain has not fielded an Olympic soccer team since 1960 because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland feared losing their independence within FIFA. The world body has assured the federations that their status won't be affected by participating in the 16-team competition at the London Games.

Melvin ponders where Semien fits best in A's batting order

Melvin ponders where Semien fits best in A's batting order

MESA, Ariz. — Marcus Semien provides the A’s a luxury as a shortstop with great home run power.

With that, an annual question surfaces:

Where is the best spot to hit him in the batting order?

Semien led American League shortstops, and finished second on the A’s, with 27 homers last season, yet he spent the majority of his time hitting seventh or ninth. Given Oakland finished last in the American League in runs last season, would it make sense to move him up higher?

The early indications are that manager Bob Melvin will keep Semien hitting in the bottom third of the order, even though Semien has bounced around in exhibitions so far.

“He and I were talking about that yesterday,” Melvin said Wednesday morning. “I hit him third yesterday. I’ll have him hit second, I think, tomorrow. But boy, it’s a nice little security blanket (hitting him down in the order). And it seems to be that the ‘7’ spot is where (he hits with) some guys on base. It’s nice to have a guy down in the lineup that is that productive.”

Expect Melvin to continue experimenting with different batting-order combos throughout spring training before honing in on a more steady look as late March rolls around. And where he bats Semien will be based, partly, on how Semien’s teammates are performing offensively.

The A’s signed Rajai Davis to be a speedy table-setter from the leadoff spot. They added Matt Joyce and Trevor Plouffe to add some punch through the middle of the lineup. If those three, plus cleanup man Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt, Jed Lowrie and Ryon Healy are producing, it makes more sense to save Semien as a lower-lineup headache for opposing pitchers to deal with. The shortstop’s nine home runs from the No. 9 spot tied for the major league lead in 2016.

And keep in mind, Semien is likely to bat higher against left-handers. He’s a .288 career hitter with a .493 slugging percentage against lefties, compared to .229 and .380 against right-handers. Last season, he made 24 starts in the No. 2 spot.

But where he hits has no bearing on his approach, Semien said.

“I don’t want to try and change what I do based on where I am in the lineup necessarily. I want to become a better hitter no matter what spot I’m in. There was power production from the ‘9’ hole (last season). I hit second a lot against lefties. Either way, whatever is the best chance to win with that lineup that day is what we’ve gotta do.”

Falcons coach Quinn: 49ers' offense, defense in good hands

Falcons coach Quinn: 49ers' offense, defense in good hands

INDIANAPOLIS – Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn believes the 49ers’ offense and defense have capable people charge.

Quinn, speaking Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, has worked on the same staffs with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who will run the team’s offense, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Saleh, who served as Jacksonville’s linebackers coach the past three season, spent one season on the Seattle staff when Quinn was defensive coordinator.

“He has a really good and rock-solid understanding of the principles of playing three-deep and man-to-man,” Quinn said of Saleh. “He’s an excellent teacher. And, I think, as a coordinator that’s a really important thing, especially when you’re first putting the whole thing together so everyone has a real clear understanding and they’re all on the same page. So I think he’ll do a fantastic job.”

Shanahan did not hire an assistant to serve under the title of offensive coordinator. Instead, he will assume those duties with the 49ers while also overseeing the entire operation as head coach. Shanahan has been an NFL offensive coordinator for eight seasons, including the past two under Quinn with the Falcons.

“He is one of the few coaches who has a full understanding – run game, offensive line, quarterback play, receiver play,” Quinn said of Shanahan. “You could put him into any spot on the offense, and he’ll be able to coach that position. That’s a rare trait. There are some guys who are sto strong in one area. It might be in the run game or so strong in the pass game. But he has a really clear understanding how to do the whole thing.

“I never like to see anybody leave the staff, but what I can appreciate is a guy taking a risk to say, ‘Hey, I want to give this a shot and go battle for it.’ So I’m excited for him and the opportunity he has there.”