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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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10 takeaways from the first week of the FIFA World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo World Cup

As of Tuesday, every team at the World Cup has played at least one game, meaning we can start to draw some early conclusions about how things are going. It has certainly been an unpredictable tournament, with the favorites struggling and some unlikely teams looking very good. Narratives about star players are already forming, and expectations are being adjusted accordingly.

So what have we learned from the first set of games? Here’s a list of ten items.

1) There is no clear favorite

If you were expecting to see someone really make an impression and show themselves as real contenders for the World Cup in the first round of games, you came away disappointed. Of the four clear favorites to win the World Cup, only France won their opening game, and they did so in very unconvincing fashion. Spain probably looked the best, held to a draw thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo, while Brazil struggled for end product against Switzerland and Germany was defeated by Mexico. There’s time for all of them to turn it around, but nobody set themselves apart at all.

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Son of Ex-Cowboys OL Erik Williams arrested in double murder

Cassius Williams

Cassius Shakembe Williams, the son of former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Erik Williams, has been arrested in connection with a double murder in Texas.

CBS DFW reports the news on Williams, 20, who was arrested along with Rozman Rah-saan Shannon Jr. and charged with two counts of capital murder for allegedly killing two men in Mesquite, Texas on June 12.

According to the report, police believe the two victims were attempting to sell marijuana to Williams and Shannon, who apparently pulled a gun and demanded the drugs. Shots were fired and the two sellers ended up dead.

The bond for each man is $1 million. They would be facing the death penalty if convicted.

Cassius Williams played college football at Central State University. His father played 11 seasons in the NFL and was a four-time Pro Bowler.

15 best sleepers in the NBA Draft

Grayson Allen

Take a look back at the 2017 NBA Draft and you’ll find a number of slept-on prospects who blossomed in their rookie seasons. Donovan Mitchell fell to No. 13, John Collins to No. 19, and Kyle Kuzma to No. 27.

Teams got lucky in the second round, too. Boston snagged Semi Ojeleye. Golden State traded for the rights to the No. 37 pick, Jordan Bell. Memphis acquired Dillon Brooks.

What a difference a year makes. While the players enumerated above shattered expectations, others who looked like can’t-miss studs last summer now seem destined for a quick exit from the league.

A franchise can make or break its future with a successful draft, and many of the best gems – like Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard – tend to slip past the lottery. Below are 15 under-the-radar sleepers to whom teams should pay attention.

15. Chimezie Metu, PF, USC

Metu, 6-foot-11 and 225 pounds, is a stellar athlete. He averaged 1.7 blocks per game in his junior season. His offensive repertoire has expanded, but he’s still a project — he has work to do in that arena. Metu is comfortable handling the rock. Additionally, his free-throw shooting improved greatly over his three collegiate seasons, from 53 percent as a freshman to 73 percent as a junior. Metu has all the physical tools to transform into an imposing defensive force.

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Report: Barry Trotz had lofty salary demands for Caps

Barry Trotz

The Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup celebration party came to an abrupt end on Monday when reality sunk in.

Barry Trotz, who coached the team to its first Stanley Cup in franchise history, resigned from his job over contract matters.

According to NBC Sports Washington’s Tarik El-Bashir, Trotz sought a five-year contract at around $5 million per season from the Capitals.

Caps GM Brian MacLellan said the team had an issue with the length of the contract Trotz wanted, as well as the money.

Even after enjoying the best season in franchise history, the Caps drew a line in the sand about how much they were willing to pay a coach, and they were not willing to go where Trotz wanted. He should have several suitors on the open market.

Both El-Bashir and Isabelle Khurshudyan suggested that the job is associate head coach Todd Reirden’s to lose. He’ll have big shoes to fill given the success Trotz enjoyed in DC.

Ed Werder takes heat after tweet about men in sports journalism

Ed Werder

Ed Werder became the center of a Twitter controversy on Monday after he boldly stood up for the dying breed of male sports writers.

Werder, who was a well known reporter for ESPN for nearly 20 years until losing his job last year, took offense to a tweet from a female Sports Illustrated writer.

SI advertised on Twitter Monday that they were looking for a new entry-level writer.

Charlotte Wilder, who is a senior writer at SI, encouraged any interested females to reach out to her about the position.

That tweet did not sit well with Werder, who offered the following response:

Perhaps Werder is feeling marginalized since being let go and that could explain his reaction to Wilder’s tweet, but his tweet led to plenty of backlash.

Here are some examples of responses:

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Nationals’ Juan Soto homers in game that started before his MLB debut

Washington Nationals

Thanks to a truly unique series of events, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto homered Monday in a game that will go down as having been played before he had made his major league debut.

The Nationals restarted a game against the New York Yankees that had been started and suspended on May 15, tied at 3. The Nationals were able to use their current roster to finish the game, which meant Soto, who was called up on May 20, was able to play.

Play he did. He hit a two-run home run to put the Nationals ahead, prompting some serious confusion.

Fear not, though. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Soto’s big league debut will not be backdated, though it will undoubtedly throw off an entire future generation of baseball historians.

Soto has done some incredible things since his call-up. Transcending space-time and hitting a home run in a game that happened before he played in the big leagues is just the latest example.

World Cup stadium in Volgograd having incredible bug problem

There’s a real chance Monday’s World Cup match in Volgograd, Russia will have some unwanted visitors.

Various reports from the ground indicate that Volgograd Arena has been swarmed by small flies ahead of the first World Cup game the city will host, Monday’s tilt between England and Tunisia.

Reporters from BBC Sport on the scene have said that there are massive swarms of the insects to the point that England’s players will require insect repellent before taking the field.

“They are on your face, stick to your lips, get inside your nostrils, your ears and your hair,” said BBC Sport’s Natalie Pirks, via the BBC. “I’ve had to debug myself at bedtime as you find dead ones you’ve splatted in the strangest of places.”

“If Sunday night at the stadium was anything to go by, these little creatures are going to make it extremely uncomfortable for everyone there,” BBC radio commentator John Murray added. “There are billions of them. At one point last night it felt like I had a hundred thousand in my hair. Fortunately they haven’t bitten me at all, it’s just their presence that is unpleasant.

“We were warned about many things before coming to Russia, but this was not one of them.”

According to Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports, helicopters have been flying over the stadium this past week dousing the area with insecticide.

The stadium’s location right on the banks of the Volga River is apparently making the problem worse, as the water is a breeding ground for the midges.

In other words, there is a real chance we could witness a Joba Chamberlain moment on Monday. There’s just something about the World Cup and insect invasions, it seems.

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