VINTON, Iowa – After two weekend rainouts, a Highway 20 Triple Crown is in the works April 21-23 for the Deery Brothers Summer Series.Touring IMCA Late Models make up rained-out shows on Friday, April 21 at Farley Speedway and Saturday, April 22 at Independence Motor Speedway, then travel to Dubuque Speedway for the scheduled Sunday, April 23 event.All three main events pay $2,000 to win and a minimum of $300 to start. Highway 20 Triple Crown bonus amounts, as well as information about other IMCA divisions running each night, are to be announced.
… Uncapped duo earn Test call-up(REUTERS) – South Africa have called on the uncapped pair of Heinrich Klaasen and Theunis de Bruyn for the three-match Test series in New Zealand next month, while there is also a return for fast bowler Morne Morkel.Wicketkeeper-batsman Klaasen will act as cover for Quinton de Kock, while de Bruyn is retained from the squad that beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 118 runs in their last Test in Johannesburg in January.Right-hander Klaasen finished the domestic four-day competition with 635 runs at an average of 48.84, including a best of 195.Fast bowler Duanne Olivier, the leading wicket-taker in domestic cricket this season, made his debut in that game, posting match figures of 5-57, and has been retained.There is also a recall for fit-again Chris Morris, whose last Test was against England in January 2016, while Morkel has also spent the last 13 months on the sidelines with back problems.“Heinrich Klaasen was one of the top performers throughout the (domestic) season and he is rewarded for his form,” Cricket South Africa selection convener Linda Zondi said in a statement yesterday.“Morne Morkel has worked hard on his fitness over the past few months, and we believe he is now 100 percent fit and fully able to compete for his place in the team.”The other seamers in the squad are Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell, with Keshav Maharaj the only recognised spinner.The side will be captained by Faf du Plessis, with leading batsman AB de Villiers announcing earlier in the year that he would not be available for this tour.The first Test starts in Dunedin on March 8. South Africa have won their last three Test series, away in Australia and home to New Zealand and Sri Lanka.South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Duanne Olivier, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
British Prime Minister Theresa May (3rd right, back row)_ CEO of CSG, Sola Opaleye (2nd left, back row) with parents and attendees of the City Sports Group_Burnley Football Leadership and Development Programme in the UK What is City Sports Group all about?City Sports Group (CSG) is a total sports development and a business of sports company which is professionally structured and run. We aim to develop leaders and capacity building of young individuals using sports as a platform.The company was formed in January, 2018 and despite the expected challenges associated with businesses at the formative stage, we have managed to steady the ship and remain on the right track to be pacesetters in the business of sports in Nigeria.City Sports Group, an affiliate of City Sports Group UK, is the parent body for six other brands here in NigeriaPresently, our football clubs, City of Lagos FC, City FC Abuja and City FC Kano are fully operating in Lagos, Abuja and Kano, while plans are in top gear to make City FC Enugu, City FC Port Harcourt and City FC Ibadan operational by the fourth quarter of 2019. Why do all your football clubs carry the name, City?Our idea is to build clubs that are locally relevant to their environment while espousing our values as an entity. All over the world, the most passionate supported club are identified and known for the cities they are from. We want our clubs to carry the hopes and represent the aspirations of their various cities while retaining the same look and feel, general character, playing style and organizational philosophy of CSG. We want to build clubs with a local flavour but with a national view as well. We believe this is the direction to go. Sola Opaleye was the Chief Executive Officer of the now defunct Lagos-based amateur C.O.D United Football Club. He successfully managed the model club for a decade. Having interacted and witnessed first-hand the foundational and structural defects in the Nigeria Sports sector, he was spurred to become a change agent in the industry and ensure sports is properly organised, well-structured and adds value like it’s obtainable in other nations globally. He spoke with DURO IKHAZUAGBE on his pet project. Excerpt…. You left your job in NLNG to start this company, how did you find the courage to leave certainty for uncertainty? One word for that, passion! Despite the job security and income stability guaranteed working in a government regulatory agency, the desire to make a lasting impact in the sports sector was unquenchable, and I braced up to face the unquantifiable odds.Growing up as a child, I was an active participant in sports, notably football. Despite never making it professionally, the passion kept growing and I got the perfect opportunity to hone my managerial sports skills when I was appointed Chief Executive Officer for the now defunct C.O.D United FC, a role I successfully filled for a decade. My interaction with major players in the sector as well as my witnessing some of the structural defects in Nigeria sports are responsible for why I am striving to become a change agent.What is your objective in setting up CSG?Preparation for life! Our programmes are designed to adequately prepare every participant, who goes through our system for the future. While a few of them might succeed as professional athletes, a good number due to various factors will not make the grade and must be ready to excel and be outstanding in whatever chosen career elsewhere.We aim to ensure every participant in our sports programmes are armed with the life skills Discipline, Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork, Perseverance, Leadership and Courage as we tackle a fundamental societal problem.I see us becoming a reference point in capacity building through the application of sports leadership values. In the next decade, we aim to be recognized globally for the outstanding impact and contributions of budding leaders that passed through our programmes.You seem to be passionate about sports in schools? Why?We are all product of the schools we attend. Look at American sports for example, school sports is the bedrock of their entire sports industry and their sports industry is the largest in the world. The NFL makes more money than the top five European leagues combined and it sources 90% of its talent from US colleges and high schools. In the heydays of Nigerian football and sports, the best talents were discovered through the school sports system. This shows clearly that if the right foundations are built, school sports has the potential to serve as the platform for discovery, nurturing and first introduction into competitive sports. We also believe that while in school, the mind is tuned towards learning. The students are very receptive to ideas and concepts because they see school as an environment to learn. So we are working with a few schools to develop frameworks and structures that will engage students in sports and create programmes that will significantly improves the outcomes of talented athletes in those schools.Tell us more about the Sports Leadership development programme?As the name says, it is about introducing young children to the concepts of leadership with sports as a vehicle. Concepts vital for leadership such as personal discipline, personal responsibility, communication, team work, planning, delayed gratification and how to deal with wins and losses can be taught in very exciting ways through sports. We held the first programme in Burnley, England and the children and their parents had a phenomenal time. We are holding a few more of the programmes before the year runs out as we have been inundated with inquiries from parents and schools. We are also developing a curriculum that can be embedded into sports programmes and taught by our coaches in schools or through the schools’ sports departments’ staff who we have trainedYou recently met the UK Prime Minister Theresa May in England. Tell us about that experienceThat was a great experience actually. We were training with the children at a brand new £4million facility which Burnley had built in partnership with others for the community and she had come to officially open it. She saw our boys undergoing training, became very interested in how they were so focused on their training and she came over to speak to us about our experience in Burnley. She was very excited to hear we had come all the way from Nigeria in partnership with Burnley FC. It was a great experience for us and the children particularly. Many of them didn’t know who she was she, understandably so, but they could sense she must be really important.You seem to have close ties with Burnley football club, how did relationship develop and what are the opportunities?In Burnley, we have a partner that shares our passion and commitment to seeing sports beyond entertainment (aprofessional and recreational activity?) but as also a tool to express values and teach lessons in commitment, dedication, discipline and belief. This is the team with one of the lowest budgets in England, but rivalled Arsenal for a 6th-place finish only two years ago and played in the UEFA Europa League despite revenues of under £150m. Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all make in excess of £400m per annum and have played in the same competition repeatedly in recent years. That shows you what Burnley is about, not using your limitations as an excuse, optimizing whatever you have, however little and being undaunted in pursuit of your goals. These are the lessons they work with us to teach young boys and girl in our football leadership programme. We are working with them to expand the partnership to harness other opportunities. We would have announcements soon and we are excited about the things in the pipeline.You have clubs and academies in key cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu and Ibadan, why?Because we believe that talent is widely distributed in Nigeria and we want to be as close as possible to these talents, so that they can have the comfort and familiarity of home during their formative stage. One of the reasons why young players who leave their families at a young age struggle to adapt is generally as a result of cultural shock. If you can build a structure that allows them stay close to home, we have found that it significantly improves their focus and concentration. Once early stage development is done, they are better prepared and equipped to cope with being far from home. It is significant investment but we believe any investment that improves the chances of a young player living up to their potential is worthy investment.You recently partnered Real Betis in Spain, tell us about thatReal Betis are one of the most professionally run clubs in Spain and they are looking to have a global footprint and Nigeria is an interesting market for them from a brand point of view and also in terms of scouting talents. We are also constantly open to new partners and opportunities so that we can find new opportunities for the players on our academy and clubs. It is a new relationship and we are both working on making it work for both parties and maximising the opportunities therein.Apart from talent, what else do you look for in players before taking them on?Attitude. Commitment. Dedication. An intrinsic desire to succeed. You can teach these things but only if the player truly wants to succeed. I always say that you cannot have desire on anyone’s behalf and that internal motivation is fundamental. Our programmes are built to teach these things but if you are not personally driven to achieve, eventually, you will fall by the way side. Comportment and personal discipline are also very critical now. Punctuality, courteous communication, respect for people and spaces are important as well. Talents are dime and a dozen. Sometimes, what makes the different is not what the players does on the pitch, it is in the little things he does or doesn’t do off the pitch that separates the wheat from the chaff.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
Drafting closers is the ultimate guessing game in fantasy baseball. Sure, there are some (seemingly) dependable studs, like Aroldis Chapman, but every relief pitcher is just two or three bad appearances away from being on the hot seat. Throw in the injury factor and the unpredictable regression/improvement that can result from allowing just a few more or less homers than the previous year, and you have a position that’s difficult to rank, never mind separate into tiers or devise a draft strategy for. Heading into 2020, the closer positions appears to be settled for the vast majority of teams. We know that won’t last, as roughly two-thirds of teams change their closer, at least temporarily, at some point every season, but there are just a few teams that have legit open competitions for the ninth-inning job. Again, that could change before opening day because of injuries or bad springs, but even if it doesn’t, it’s important to remember that even some of the “secure” closers are anything but. Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers: Tier-6 RPsOur Tier-6 pitchers are middle relievers who generally provide a lot of Ks and good peripherals. These guys can have bigger overall impacts than lower-tier closers, especially if they can luck into some wins, but it’s tough to roster them in shallow leagues, especially weekly leagues (and even tougher to roster them in Quality Start leagues). It wouldn’t be a shock to see some of them getting closing opportunities, especially if there are injuries, but it’s tough to predict that in the spring. Still, drafting one in the last couple rounds can help balance out your pitching staff, especially if it’s a primary setup man who’s one injury away from racking up saves. If you’re really looking to maximize Ks, then Matt Barnes (15.4 K/9 ratio last year), Josh James (14.8), Tanner Rainey (13.9), Luke Jackson (13.1), Tommy Kahnle (12.9), Tyler Duffey (12.8), Freddy Peralta (12.6), Emilio Pagan (12.3), and Chad Green (12.0) are your guys. Darwinzon Hernandez (16.5 in 30.1 innings) and Drew Pomeranz (15.7 in 28.2 innings) also impressed last year. TIER 6Emilio Pagan, PadresDrew Pomeranz, PadresRyan Pressly, AstrosSeth Lugo, MetsMatt Barnes, Red SoxTyler Duffey, TwinsLuke Jackson, BravesJames Karinchak, IndiansJosh James, AstrosChad Green, YankeesShane Greene, BravesRyan Helsley, CardinalsDiego Castillo, RaysTommy Kahnle, YankeesBlake Treinen, DodgersFreddy Peralta, BrewersTy Buttrey, AngelsWill Harris, NationalsJose Alvarado, RaysAndres Munoz, PadresDarwinzon Hernandez, Red SoxTanner Rainey, NationalsAdam Ottavino, Yankees 2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings:Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Reliever | Top 300Unless you’re punting saves (not a recommended strategy), you’ll probably want to leave your draft with three closers. That’s not possible for everyone in a 12-team league (or even a 10-team league, if we’re being honest), but it’s ideal. That often leads to overdrafting RPs, which is a mistake, but that tends to be how things work out. If you have just two closers when your draft ends, you can live with that. Plenty more will pop up on the waiver wire once the season begins, so be vigilant. If you’re in a weekly league, all you need is two closers. If you want a “backup” in case one gets hurt or loses his job, just draft his handcuff. If you’re going all-in on closers and want to get four to really give yourself an advantage, you’re going to have to sacrifice some offense or starting pitching. That’s fine, but at least three of your closers need to be high-K guys to make up for the strikeouts you’re potentially not getting from a starter. Most closers are solid in strikeouts, but obviously some are better than others, and you need to prioritize them. The first closer in your draft will likely come off the board in the fifth or sixth round. There will be runs from that point on, so just be cognizant of when they start. You don’t necessarily need a Tier-1 closer, but you’ll want at least one who has a little bit of job security on opening day. That might mean you take closers in the ninth and 10th rounds, or maybe the eighth and 12th. You could also wait until the 12th and 13th. It really depends on how your draft is going. Some leagues see the closer runs start early, so read the room. And if everyone else is drastically overdrafting closers, clean up the hitter/starting pitcher values, grab some later-round RP sleepers, and work the wire once the season starts. DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2020 Fantasy Baseball Cheat SheetWho are the best fantasy baseball RPs?Eligibility based on Yahoo default settingsThe pitchers in Tier 1, with the possible exception of Roberto Osuna, are all elite strikeout producers who should be firmly entrenched in their roles to open the season. A few of them have warts — Chapman walks too many batters, Hader gives up too many homers — but these are stud pitchers who will rack up saves and help your ERA and WHIP.These guys will go anywhere from the fifth-eighth rounds. Jumping in early for one of them is risky (remember Blake Treinen and Edwin Diaz last year?), but it can pay off if you choose the right one. TIER 1Kirby Yates, PadresJosh Hader, BrewersRoberto Osuna, AstrosBrad Hand, IndiansAroldis Chapman, YankeesLiam Hendriks, A’sMore 2020 Fantasy Baseball: Auction Values | Mock Draft Simulator2020 Fantasy Baseball Tiers: Tier-2 RPsThere isn’t much difference between most of the Tier-2 guys and the guys in Tier 1, but overall, they’re just a bit more volatile. That’s especially true for Diaz and Craig Kimbrel, which is why they’re in Tier 2B. They were downright bad last year. We’re giving both the benefit of the doubt that they can figure out their HR issues and regain their All-Star forms. At the very least, they’ll strike out a lot of batters. The same goes for Brandon Workman, who was dominant last year despite a 5.7 BB/9 ratio. His K-rate skyrocketed and his HR-rate plummeted, so we’re a little skeptical that he’s for real, but if he has a similar season, he could produce like a Tier-1 closer. It helps that Alex Cora is gone as manager, too, as the Red Sox will be less likely to play matchups with their relievers. The pitchers in Tier 2A are a little more reliable, though Kenley Jansen has regressed the past two years, and Raisel Iglesias has a home run problem (and issues with his manager, which is never good for job security). The Twins had a tendency to play matchups in the late innings last year, which could hurt Rogers’ save totals, and Giles has been up and down the past four seasons, so he could be due for a bad one. There is a lot of upside with all four of these pitchers, but the worst versions of themselves could hurt your team.If your first closer is from this tier, that’s fine, but if it’s a Tier 2B guy, you might want to get another “secure” closer shortly after (Alex Colome? Ian Kennedy? Archie Bradley?). If you took a Tier-1 closer, you also have more wiggle room to gamble on comeback years from Diaz or Kimbrel. TIER 2ATaylor Rogers, TwinsKen Giles, Blue JaysKenley Jansen, DodgersRaisel Iglesias, RedsTIER 2BEdwin Diaz, MetsCraig Kimbrel, CubsBrandon Workman, Red Sox2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers:Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfielder | Starter | Each team2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Tier-3 RPsTier 3 is the most likely tier to feature a surprise breakout closer. Most of the pitchers in this tier have high K-rates, with Nick Anderson a threat to lead the league in K/9 ratio (15.2 last year). Jose Leclerc also had a K/9 over 13 last year, the second straight season he’s accomplished that feat. The sub-tiers here represent job security. Those in Tier 3B have it (as much as any third-tier closer can have job security in March), while those in Tier 3A don’t. Anderson is considered the favorites for saves in Tampa, but the Rays never settled on a permanent closer last year — and it worked — so why would they this year? If we knew Anderson had some job security, he’d definitely be in Tier 2, so obviously there’s a lot of potential value here. The same goes for Leclerc, Keone Kela and Giovanny Gallegos in the tier below (when healthy), and even Hector Neris, who all have great stuff but also worries in the form of walks or homers. Sean Doolittle is coming off a down year, but he’s another guy with big upside if he can regain his form. You’re not going to be excited about drafting someone like Colome or Kennedy, but they are pretty reliable bets for saves. That has value. Ideally, you’d get one closer from this tier in the middle or late-middle rounds. They provide a lot of bang for your buck if they pay off, and if they flop, the opportunity cost isn’t nearly as high as for the guys in Tier 1 or Tier 2. TIER 3ANick Anderson, RaysTIER 3BHansel Robles, AnglesArchie Bradley, D-backsJose LeClerc, RangersHector Neris, PhilliesAlex Colome, White SoxSean Doolittle, NationalsIan Kennedy, Royals2020 Fantasy Baseball Tiers, Draft Strategy:Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | StarterFantasy Baseball Rankings: Tier-4 RPsTier-4 features closers who should have the ninth-inning role to themselves on opening day, but they could hurt more than help even as they’re picking up saves. To be fair, we thought that about Shane Greene last year, and he was dynamite most of the season, especially in the first half, so anything is possible, but none of these pitchers inspire much confidence. Mark Melancon is the “safest” of the group and should arguably be in the tier above. The reason we put him down here is because the Braves have a bunch of capable, if not better, pitchers who can handle the ninth inning, including Will Smith, Luke Jackson, and the aforementioned Greene. We just have a tough time imagining Melancon sticking in the closer’s role, and with mediocre peripherals, we’re not sure how much long-term value he really has. Still, if you can get him in the late rounds, you won’t be sacrificing much, and if you back him up with Smith, you can get as much value as possible from this situation. In fact, if you draft any of these pitchers, it’s not a bad idea to grab their handcuffs, which would probably be Smith (Braves), Kyle Crick (Pirates), Drew Steckenrider (Marlins), Buck Farmer (Tigers), Scott Oberg (Rockies), and Hunter Harvey (Orioles). TIER 4Mark Melancon, BravesKeone Kela, PiratesBrandon Kintzler, MarlinsJoe Jimenez, TigersWade Davis, RockiesMychal Givens, OriolesFantasy Baseball Draft Strategies: Auction | Keeper/Dynasty | PointsFantasy Baseball Tiers: Tier-5 RPsIdeally, you wouldn’t mess with the pitchers in Tier 5, but somebody will take them, at least the guys in Tier 5A. Matt Magill and Tony Watson are slight favorites to open the season as their team’s respective closers, and while neither inspires much confidence, there’s a chance they could take the jobs and run with them. Magill ended last year as Seattle closer, and Watson has some closing experience from his time in Pittsburgh. Kwang-Hyum Kim and Kyle Crick will likely open the season asa their teams’ respective closers, but that might be temporary until Kela is healthy and Gallegos returns to the team (assuming he ever does).The pitchers in Tier 5B are the handcuffs/primary competition for saves we mentioned earlier. You don’t need to draft these guys outside of the deepest leagues, but a few of them can have standalone value, namely Smith and Sam Tuivailala. Harvey is also an intriguing flier after he converted to a reliever last year in the minors and struck out 33 batters in 23 innings between Triple-A and the majors. TIER 5AMatt Magill, MarinersTony Watson, GiantsKwang-Hyun Kim, CardinalsKyle Crick, PiratesTIER 5BGiovany Gallegos, CardinalsWill Smith, BravesScott Oberg, RockiesHunter Harvey, OriolesTrevor Gott, GiantsSam Tuivailala, MarinersYoshihisa Hirano, MarinersTyler Rogers, GiantsBuck Farmer, TigersDrew Steckenrider, Marlins