NFL's Pro Bowl a bittersweet affair for players

NFL's Pro Bowl a bittersweet affair for players

Jan. 28, 2010GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

KAPOLEI, Hawaii They smile, say all the right things and are careful to not bite the hand that feeds them.Its a carnival atmosphere, really, where pigskins and pineapples, stars and spam sandwiches share, and rule, the day in paradise during Pro Bowl week.Its a special week being around some other great football players (and) some great coaches, the polished Peyton Manning offered following this mornings walk-through practice in red, white and blue Pro Bowl uniforms at the players hotel, the posh Ihilani Resort & Spa.And the fans are a big part of this thing as well, so thats what this week is all about.See what I mean. The Indianapolis quarterback has mastered the art of saying something without really saying anything. And yetThere is an ironic undercurrent running through the Islands. Since the NFL moved the Pro Bowl from the week following the Super Bowl to the week before the championship game last year, effectively eliminating any Pro Bowlers selected from the AFC and NFC title teams, a looming sense of bittersweet success has become palpable here. Especially with the league bringing the Pro Bowl back to Oahu after a one-year sojourn to the Super Bowl site. It had been at Aloha Stadium since 1980.Everybody here is kind of disappointed, said Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez, selected for his 11th Pro Bowl. Especially the guys that actually made the playoffs. And for the New England staff and our Atlanta staff being the No. 1 seed, playing here is something you didnt anticipate.The coaching staffs of each conferences highest seeded team eliminated in the second weekend of the postseason have the honor, as ignominious as it may be, of coaching the Pro Bowl squads. Paging the Patriots Bill Belichick and the Falcons Mike White.But at the same time, Gonzalez added, you know we have a good time when we come out here. Fun in the sun. This is good times. Everybodys relaxing.At least when theyre able to put the immediate past behind them and move forward.The New York Jets and Chicago Bears had stakes driven through their hearts a mere five days ago. So forgive the likes of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and Bears defensive end Julius Peppers if theyre not exactly running around Waikiki Beach with puka shells around their necks, grass skirts around their waists and toasting mai-tais to the NFLs all-star game. GUTIERREZ: Pro Bowl Postcard (12811)
Falling one game shy of an ultimate goal playing in the Super Bowl kinda stings.It can be bitter in a lot of ways because you want to be in the Super Bowl but I think this is just another situation where ,if you make the Pro Bowl, you come out here and its a vacation, you have your family out here and try to have a good time, said Revis, who had eight tackles and one pass defensed in the Jets 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh. He is one of three Jets in this Pro Bowl, along with left tackle DBrickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold.Youve got to trade your emotions over, Revis said. You have to switch them and just try to make this a positive trip as much as you can.Peppers was trying to take the high road and was obviously still stinging from the Bears 21-14 home defeat to Green Bay.Being in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl instead of gearing up for the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Bittersweet, much?Yeah, of course, said Peppers, who had two tackles, a quarterback hurry and a roughing the passer penalty against the Packers. It is what it is. Everybody wants to be playing (in the Super Bowl) but everybody cant play. We gave it our best shot so, you know, come in (to the Pro Bowl). Youve got to come in. Obviously, we want to be playing but we cant.Peppers is in Hawaii with Bears teammate and kick return specialist Devin Hester.Yeah, its a short turnaround, Peppers said. But when you get voted to come out here, you want to come out here and show up for the fans that voted for you.And, no matter how much it hurts and how bittersweet it all may taste, to keep that smile on the face.What's your take? Email Paul and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

Team USA dominates Puerto Rico to win 2017 World Baseball Classic

Team USA dominates Puerto Rico to win 2017 World Baseball Classic

LOS ANGELES -- Marcus Stroman tossed six hitless innings, Ian Kinsler slugged a two-run homer and the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 on Wednesday night to win its first World Baseball Classic in four tries.

Stroman dominated the tournament's highest-scoring team. Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The U.S. territory finished runner-up for the second time, having lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 final.

Stroman, who was named the tournament's MVP, avenged his shakiness in the Americans' 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico during pool play. The right-hander from the Toronto Blue Jays retired the side on three grounders to open the game. In all, he gave up one hit, struck out three and walked one on 73 pitches.

He allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan's double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when Stroman departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead.

Stroman walked Carlos Beltran leading off the second, but the defense helped him out. Yadier Molina hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play before Stroman struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.

The U.S. pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record while making the final for the first time in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.

Kinsler homered off an 0-1 pitch from Seth Lugo into left-center field in the third, scoring Jonathan Lucroy, who singled leading off.

Lugo of the New York Mets allowed four runs and five hits, struck out seven and walked four in four innings. The right-hander won his first two starts of the tournament, including in the second round against Stroman and the U.S.

In that game, Stroman gave up six consecutive singles in a four-run first inning and took the loss against Puerto Rico last Friday in San Diego.

The Americans made it 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.

Fans wore flags of both countries as capes and decorated their faces in team colors. Puerto Rico boosters pounded cowbells, tooted horns and blew whistles early on before their team fell behind 4-0.

Fans were on their feet chanting "U-S-A" when the Americans loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. They were rewarded with Crawford's two-run single that chased J.C. Romero, extending the lead to 6-0.

The U.S. tacked on another run on Giancarlo Stanton's RBI single off Hiram Burgos past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Burgos' wild pitch moved runners to second and third before he walked Lucroy to load the bases a second time. Kinsler flied out to end the inning.

The Americans led 8-0 in the eighth on McCutchen's RBI single with two outs.

The U.S. defeated two-time champion Japan, while Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the final.

The three games at Dodger Stadium drew 109,892.

Instant Replay: Kings blown out by Bucks, Antetokounmpo at home

Instant Replay: Kings blown out by Bucks, Antetokounmpo at home

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Milwaukee Bucks are where the Sacramento Kings hope to be in two seasons - young, athletic and on their way to the playoffs. Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center, the visiting team jumped all of the Kings early on their way to a 116-98 win. 

The Greek Freak didn’t let up on his fellow countryman, Georgios Papagiannis. Giannis Antetokounmpo went at the Kings from the opening tip, finishing the night with 32 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.  

Former Kings Jason Terry and Spencer Hawes heard boos every time they touched the ball. Unfortunately for Sacramento, they hit almost every shot they took, combining for 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Greg Monroe added 15 points and five rebounds. Mirza Teletovic finished with 13 points off the bench and Khris Middleton hit 3-for-6 from long range to score 13. 

Rookie Buddy Hield put on a shooting clinic. The 22-year-old shooting guard dropped in 8-of-16 from the field on his way to 21 points and four rebounds

Darren Collison set up his teammates from the opening tip. The veteran point guard dropped in 10 points and a team-high seven assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Garrett Temple stepped up his scoring, chipping in 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting and chipped in three rebounds in the loss. 

Willie Cauley-Stein stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four blocks. 

Arron Afflalo started at the small forward position and added 12 on 5-of-9 shooting. Tyreke Evans came off the bench, posting 18 points in 20 minutes of action behind Afflalo.

Skal Labissiere managed to shake off a rough first half to drop in eight points and grab eight rebounds, and fellow rookie Georgios Papagiannis picked up four points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes off Dave Joerger’s bench.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Antetokounmpo was as advertised and more. The 6-foot-11 forward gave the Kings fits from start to finish on his way to another huge performance.

TURNING POINT

The Bucks blew up in the first half, scoring 69 points on 61.4 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. This game was over before the teams headed in for the break.

INJURY UPDATE 

Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson both missed the game for scheduled rest. Rookie Malachi Richardson is out with a right hamstring thickness tear, but is expected back soon. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings hit the road again following the game against Milwaukee. They will face the Golden State Warriors on Friday evening at Oracle Arena, followed by a stop in Los Angeles on Sunday to visit the Clippers.