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Cesc Returns to England; Joins Chelsea

Just hours away from the world’s greatest football event, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, surely nothing could dampen a football fan’s mood; except maybe a break-up or a death in the family, for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, a death in the family is exactly what happened to every single Arsenal fan this morning. It happened the moment Cesc Fabregas officially joined Chelsea on Thursday, and even posed for a photo with his brand new, number four, blue jersey. The Fabregas every Gooner knew is dead.

If you find an Arsenal fan today, or in the coming weeks, drop whatever it is your’e doing and give them a hug. They all feel like this.

Fabregas agreed to join the Blues on a five-year deal. There isn’t an official figure, but it is believed that Chelsea paid around €25 million for the Spanish midfielder. What a bargain. A world class midfielder for such a small amount of money? Fabregas will surely be of of the main cogs in the machine that is Chelsea this upcoming season. No one on that roster is better in the center of the field at the moment. Look for the Spaniard to start a great deal of matches along side Nemanja Matic. All of a sudden the midfield at Stamford Bridge is one of the most terrifying in the Premier League — and even Europe.

When Fabregas left the North London club in 2011 to go back home to Barcelona, the consensus was that everyone, including Arsenal fans, were happy for the Spaniard. He would return to the team that gave him his first opportunity and saw him grow. He would return a team where he had life long friends. The idea was that if Fabregas ever wanted to leave Camp Nou, the Emirates would welcome him back with open arms.

Clearly, this wasn’t the case. But, Gooners don’t have a right to be angry at Fabregas. He had every intention to return to the Gunners, and Arsenal had none.

In an open letter on his Facebook page, Fabregas wrote, “Yes, everyone knows that Arsenal had the first option to sign me. They decided not to take up this option and therefore it wasn’t meant to be. I wish them well in the future.”

It’s hard to believe Arsenal passed up such an opportunity, especially when the main reason they aren’t the current Premier League champions is lack of depth. Sure, Arsenal already has Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere in the central midfield role. But, Ozil, Wilshere and Ramsey all missed a considerable amount of games due to injury. How would have the Gunners fared if instead of Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta, they had Cesc Fabregas? We’ll never know.

Look for Fabregas to have a good world cup, and then a tremendous stint under Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.

Diego Costa offer Chelsea options

The English Premier League ended with Manchester City triumphantly winning the league title and Chelsea falling just under four points at the end of a very zealous race to the title.

Jose Mourinho feels as if the attacking force at the club was not aggressive enough to hit back against teams like Liverpool and Manchester City.

His attacking force that consisted of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba only finished 19 successful goals in league, with Eto’o scoring nine of the goals.

For the next season over the horizon the Chosen One wants his center forward to pack more of a hefty punch. He believes Diego Costa from Athletico Madrid can give that spunk to the offensive side of Chelsea.

The Brazilian-born native will represent the Spanish reds in the 2014 world cup in Brazil. However his scoring capabilities with the Spanish club favor the desperate Jose Mourinho.

Costa scored 27 goals in 34 league starts while at Vicente Calderon, and his spicy South American state of mind is just what coaching staff would like for a killer instinct forward.

With the departure of Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, Chelsea will have to dig into its pockets and chose carefully where the final spending for talent will take place.

Also in the scope of the boys at Stamford are Cesc Fabregas, which could settle for £30m, and French centre back Raphael Varane.

Dodgers Owners Buy Los Angeles Sparks

The WNBA has approved the sale of the Los Angeles Sparks to an investment group led by Magic Johnson and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mark Walter as announced by WNBA president Laurel Richie.

Walter-Johnson-Buy-LA-SparksJohnson’s group includes Dodgers co-owners Todd Boehly, Robert Patton and Stan Kasten. It successfully ends the rumored move for the Sparks to the Bay Area, keeping the team in Los Angeles and in Staples Center.

The Sparks have been in Los Angeles for 17 seasons, and Guggenheim Partners, the group of investors, have transformed the Dodgers into a winning franchise, one that seeks to contend for a World Series in 2014.

Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez In Boxing Ring

Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is looking like he’s ready to go not only for the baseball season, but also in the boxing ring, passing along a picture on Twitter of him in his final day of training.

AdrianGonzalez1The gym he is training at is Encinitas Gym located near his home in San Diego.

Gonzalez, 32 on May 8, enters the 2014 season off a season that saw him hit .293/.342/.461 with 22 home runs and 100 RBIs.

Can a few boxing sessions have an effect on his already stellar play at first base?

Only time will tell.

Rumors: Are The Dodgers Close To Signing Bronson Arroyo?

The Los Angeles Dodgers and free agent starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo have remained in what is termed as active talks by Jon Morosi of FOX Sports on Twitter.

Arroyo, 37 on Feb. 24, is thought to have been on a short list of players the Dodgers were looking to turn to should they have lost out in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, which they did, to the New York Yankees.

062612-3-MLB-Reds-Bronson-Arroyo-OB-PI_20120626222309334_660_320Some think the Dodgers are out seeking infield depth as opposed to another pitcher, perhaps thinking about pegging Josh Beckett and later on Chad Billingsley into the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation.

Arroyo has spent the last eight seasons in a very hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark with the Cincinnati Reds, going 105-94 with a 4.05 ERA. Last season in 32 starts he went 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA.

For those wondering, Arroyo is 2-4 with a 4.85 ERA in eight appearances at Dodger Stadium, including a loss this past season, that saw him toss 5.1 innings, and allowing three runs on eight hits, including a home run, while walking two batters and striking out one.

He made approximately $16.4 million last season.

Los Angeles Dodgers Preparing For World Series Run

After a sleepy offseason spent locking up roster mainstays (Clayton Kershaw, Juan Uribe and Brian Wilson), and bolstering the bullpen and reserves, the Dodgers looked primed to bring the Commissioner’s Trophy back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1988. Las Vegas odds makers have proclaimed them the favorite, and with this roster, there’s not much argument. While formidable, this roster is far from final.

Projected Opening Day Roster:
C AJ Ellis Tim Federowicz
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Alexander Guerrero Dee Gordon
3B Uribe Justin Sellers
SS Hanley Ramirez Chone Figgins
LF Carl Crawford Scott Van Slyke
CF Matt Kemp Andre Ethier
RF Yasiel Puig
UT TBD
SP1 Kershaw
SP2 Zack Greinke
SP3 Hyun-jin Ryu
SP4 Dan Haren
SP5 Josh Beckett
CL Kenley Jansen
SU Wilson
7th Paco Rodriguez
RP Chris Perez
RP TBD

While most pundits expected Ethier to be traded in the offseason, the fragility of the outfield is too much of a reality to trade a proven commodity. With Crawford missing 46 games last year and Kemp not being healthy going on two years now, manager Don Mattingly can rotate the two-time all star into the outfield and keep all four outfielders fresh throughout a long season.

mlb_g_mattingly_kh_1920x1080What will Guerrero add to the mix?

The Dodgers signed him to a four-year/$28 million contract in October, yet are so concerned about his fielding ability that they went to great lengths to convince Michael Young to put off retirement, and signed Figgins from the scrap heap.

With Dee Gordon also in the mix, it’s very possible for the Cuban to start the season in the minors. Signing Figgins, who did not play at all last year, to a minor league contract was a sage move. A proven top of the lineup hitter with speed and soft hands, Figgins can play all positions except pitcher and catcher.

A natural second baseman, he very well may be the opening day starter if he can start hitting again. He only hit .227/.302/.283 in 308 games in three seasons with the Mariners. Since he can also back up Uribe and Gonzalez, Figgins can truly be their impact signing this year.

In real estate, it’s location, location, location. In baseball it’s pitching, pitching, pitching.

The Dodgers boast one of the best starting rotations in baseball. They sport 10 all-star game appearances, 3 Cy Young Awards, 1 Triple Crown and a Silver Slugger. General Manager Ned Colletti recently locked up ace Kershaw through 2020. Greinke is in the fold through 2018. Ryu is here through 2018. This is a team built to win today and tomorrow as well.

With Beckett in his walk year and hoping to rebound, Coletti added innings-eater Dan Haren for a one-year audition. Oh, and they’re not done. Remember Chad Billingsley? The 2003 1st round pick with a career 3.65 ERA. Due $14 million in the walk year of his contract, he is coming off Tommy John surgery with something to prove. Look for him to be back before the All-Star game.

In short, it’s good to be blue.

Rumors: Are The Dodgers Interested In Ervin Santana?

ervin-santana-royalsThe Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly are interested in free agent starter Ervin Santana in their search for a No. 4 starter to throw in alongside Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu and Dan Haren.

They join seven other teams (Rockies, Orioles, Mariners, Yankees, Marlins, Cubs and Blue Jays) that are showing interest in the former Angel and Royal pitcher according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.

Both Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Garza have come off the board, making Santana arguably the best available pitcher on the market.

Santana, 31, is reportedly seeking a deal worth 4-years/$60 million. Garza signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for 4-years/$50 million. He did not cost them a draft pick, while Santana will cause the signing team to send over their pick.

He went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 32 starts for the Royals a year ago after spending eight years with the Angels. He has a career record of 105-90 with a 4.19 ERA.

WWE Preview: Possible Winners Of The 2014 Royal Rumble Match

“As of now, I’m not in the 30-man Royal Rumble match, I’m trying to get involved in it. COO Triple H doesn’t want me anywhere in the Royal Rumble match.”

Daniel Bryan told the Straits Timesbatistacena, yesterday. Now, had Bryan not had disclosed that information, my money would have been on the Yes! man to cap off a banner year with winning the 2014 Royal Rumble.

But since he did, let’s look at some other possible winners of the match.

Historically, the Rumble winner has been someone who is either…

a.) on the cusp of being a main-event staple, or at least the brass at WWE believe he is.

b.) a big name who is need of a little help to recapture relevancy.

c.) a major returning superstar.

Just have a look at the past 10 winners: John Cena (2013), Sheamus (2012), Alberto Del Rio (2011), Edge (2010), Randy Orton (2009), John Cena (2008), the Undertaker (2007), Rey Mysterio (2006), Batista (2005) and Chris Benoit (2004).

Category A: a superstar on the cusp of being a main-event staple, or at least the brass at WWE believe he is.  

See, this is where Daniel Bryan would have been the logical choice. In a year where he’s been the most “over” wrestler by miles and miles, it would have made sense for Bryan to win; but the WWE doesn’t exactly specialize in common sense, does it?  Instead, he’s stuck in an anti-climactic match with Bray Wyatt, that appeared to have resolved itself at the conclusion of the cage match two weeks ago. Let’s all cross our fingers that Triple H re-considers, and gets the Bryan/Wyatt match out of the way early in the night, before giving the Goat-faced superstar a prominent role in the pay-pay-view’s signature match. Dean Ambrose has an outside shot at winning it as well, he’ll certainly be around for the latter stages of the match with the help of his fellow Shield members; don’t be surprised if a possible blow-up between the triumvirate happens at some point during Sunday night.

Category B: a big name who is need of a little help to recapture relevancy.

CM Punk may need this win more than anyone else, since his historic 434-day title reign came to an end, what has he really done that has been memorable? He put on the best match at Wrestlemania versus the Undertaker, followed by an overdue (and fantastic) feud with Paul Heyman. With Kane announcing that Punk will enter the Rumble as the first entrant, it all but ensures he’ll be in the match for a while, or maybe even win it, as #1 entrant has produced as many winners as entrant #30.  It’s about time the Best in the World re-enters the title picture.

Other names to look out for in this category: Damien Sandow, Alberto Del Rio, Brock Lesnar and Big Show.

Category C: a major returning superstar

Two Royal Rumbles ago, when Chris Jericho made his return, he lasted until the final two, before being eliminated by Sheamus. With Batista’s return, there’s no reason not to believe he’s the favorite in this match, especially considering his return on Monday night sparked the highest ratings for WWE’s flagship show since 2013.

Final four prediction: Batista, Dean Ambrose, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.

WWE News: RAW Draws Highest Rating Since 2013

20140120_RAW_RKO_Batista_2The Jan. 20 version of WWE Raw scored a 3.46 rating, up 11 percent from the 3.12 rating it drew a week ago, the show’s highest rating since March 4, 2013, much thanks in part to the return of Batista.

RAW averaged 4.869 million viewers, up from 4.403 a week ago.

Hourly Breakdown

  • 1: 5.249 million
  • 2: 4.995 million
  • 3: 4.363 million

The drop from hour one to three is a loss of 17 percent of the audience. This is likely due to fans wanting to watch the return of Batista and then quickly losing interest in the rest of the show.

It will be interesting to see what the WWE does at the Royal Rumble stemming from the show’s recent success with bringing back legendary wrestlers such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts and the New Age Outlaws.

News: Dodgers Invite Top Prospects to Spring Training

Top Dodgers prospects Joc Pederson and Zach Lee will be a part of the team’s spring training camp, the team announced Tuesday.

It’s the first major league spring training invitation for both Pederson —the Dodgers’ number-one overall prospect by both MLB.com and BaseballAmerica.com — and Lee, who MLB.com views as the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect.

Other noteworthy prospects who will be in camp include pitchers Chris Reed, Ross Stripling, and infielder Miguel Rojas. Although Rojas batted only .233 at double-A Chattanooga last season, his name has frequently been mentioned as a potential starter at second base by Ned Colletti, general manager of the Dodgers.

The team also signed catcher Miguel Olivo, a 12-year major league veteran, to a minor league contract. Olivo, 35, played in 33 games last season with the Miami Marlins where he hit .203 with four home runs and nine runs batted in. The Dodgers also re-signed catcher Gorman “Griff” Erickson to a minor league contract and invited him to camp as well. Olivo figures to add catching depth and healthy competition for the Dodgers catchers. The 12-year veteran immediately becomes the most experienced backstop in camp.

Here is the full list of 15 non-roster players that will be at the Dodgers’ camp in Arizona:

J.C. Boscan, C
Sam Demel, RHP
Griff Erickson, C
Carlos Frias, RHP
Brendan Harris, INF
Zach Lee, RHP
Daniel Moskos, LHP
Chris O’Brien, C
Miguel Olivo, C
Red Patterson, RHP
Joc Pederson, OF
Chris Reed, LHP
Clint Robinson, INF
Miguel Rojas, INF
Ross Stripling, RHP