[BC-MCT-SPORTS-BJT]

^Wednesday's games<

(TNS)

Tribune News Service

Sports Budget for Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Updated at 6 p.m. EST (2300 UTC)

This budget is now available at http://www.TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.

^TOP STORIES<

^At University of Maryland, football fandom continues to fall<

^FBC-MARYLAND-FANBASE-SPORTSPLUS:BZ—<The University of Maryland has struggled to reverse recent declines in fan interest in the football program, which underwent a turbulent 2018 season after the heatstroke death of 19-year-old player Jordan McNair, a new document shows.

Athletic event ticket sales and outside donations to the football program fell in the fiscal year ending last June 30 for the second year in a row, according to financial figures obtained in a Public Information Act request by The Baltimore Sun.

And that was before a fall season in which fewer fans filled Maryland Stadium.

1350 by Jeff Barker. MOVED

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^Sixers trade 3 players to Clippers for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott in blockbuster deal<

^BKN-76ERS-CLIPPERS-HARRIS:PHI—<The 76ers have traded Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, and Wilson Chandler to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott, the Sixers announced Wednesday.

In addition to the three players, the Sixers sent a lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 unprotected first-round pick (via Miami), a 2021 second-round pick (via Detroit), and a 2023 second-round pick (via Detroit) to the Clippers.

500 by Sarah Todd. MOVED

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^BASEBALL<

^Paul Sullivan: The Cubs' statement on Joe Ricketts' racist emails is missing one word: Sorry<

^BBO-SULLIVAN-COLUMN:TB—<Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts had the media in stitches three years ago when he was asked to respond to a provocative tweet by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"It's a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mom," Ricketts cracked.

It was spring training in 2016, back when few believed Trump would become president or the Cubs could end their championship drought.

850 by Paul Sullivan. MOVED

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^Report: Phillies 'must' give up top prospect Sixto Sanchez if they want J.T. Realmuto<

^BBN-PHILLIES-REALMUTO:PHI—<The Marlins might be eager to trade catcher J.T. Realmuto but they are not in a rush to bring down their asking price, according to a report Wednesday by MLB.com.

The Marlins, according to the report, view Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez as a "must" for a deal to be done to send Realmuto to the Phillies. The Marlins would like to complete a trade for Realmuto before they host a fan event at Saturday that will be attended by their entire team.

250 by Matt Breen. MOVED

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^MLB investigation into Mariners 'did not uncover any credible evidence' of Lorena Martin's allegations<

BBA-MARINERS-INVESTIGATION:SE — After almost three months of investigation by an independent firm, Major League Baseball released a statement of its findings on Wednesday morning regarding the allegations from Lorena Martin that members of the Mariners, specifically general manager Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais and director of player personnel Andy McKay, made racist and sexist comments.

The law firm of Epstein Becker Green "did not uncover any credible evidence" that the Mariners or any of its employees violated MLB's workplace code of conduct. The firm interviewed 17 people, including Martin as part of its investigation.

650 by Ryan Divish in Seattle. MOVED

^Paul Sullivan: Cubs' last hurrah on WGN-TV could be a tearjerker<

^BBN-SULLIVAN-COLUMN:TB—<What's expected to be the last Cubs game on WGN-TV is scheduled for Sept. 27, a Friday night game in St. Louis starting the final series of the 2019 season.

Another tradition comes to an end, and a new era will begin.

But unlike HBO and "Game of Thrones," WGN and the Cubs aren't hyping their final season together after 72 years. In fact the news release announcing the Cubs' 2019 TV schedule didn't even mention it would be last one on what some Chicagoans still refer to as "Channel 9," even if they're really watching Channel 192 on their local cable outlet.

850 by Paul Sullivan. MOVED

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^Report: MLB, players considering sweeping rules changes for 2019 season<

^BBO-RULECHANGES-2019SEASON:FT—<Spring training begins for pitchers and catchers next week and Opening Day is 50 days away, but MLB and the players association are considering jamming in significant rules changes for the regular season.

Among them, according to an ESPN report, is a universal designated hitter; a three-batter minimum for pitchers; one trade deadline before the All-Star break; a 20-second pitch clock; and expanding rosters to 26 with a 12-pitchers maximum.

350 by Jeff Wilson. MOVED

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^NFL<

^Marcus Hayes: Pederson, Wentz and the Eagles look better long-term than McVay, Goff and the Rams<

^FBN-HAYES-COLUMN:PHI—<In the wake of the Rams' poor offensive performance in Super Bowl LIII, the curmudgeons among us might be tempted to rejoice in the misery of Sean McVay, the latest millennial genius, getting kneecapped by Bill Belichick, king of us curmudgeons.

We won't rejoice. We're bigger than that. Barely.

At the very least, the Doug Pedersons and Andy Reids and the Sean Paytons among us can extract a measure of satisfaction that McVay — 33 and young enough to be their son — did not render their brand of offensive genius irrelevant.

1050 by Marcus Hayes. MOVED

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^Peter Schmuck: We love to hate the Patriots, but you can't deny that they are the NFL's greatest dynasty<

^FBN-SCHMUCK-COLUMN:TB—<Like many of you, I've grown weary of the New England Patriots.

They are, quite frankly, too good, and the combination of their pretty boy quarterback, grouchy genius of a head coach and historically advantageous competitive environment has contributed to a national case of Patriot Derangement Syndrome.

That doesn't mean that I don't respect their accomplishments or don't believe that they have become the most dominant franchise in the history of the National Football League.

700 by Peter Schmuck. MOVED

PHOTO

^Carron Phillips: Dolphins put four black men in power, but you should remain suspicious of owner Ross<

^FBN-PHILLIPS-COLUMN:NY—<Bill Belichick has never been a man of many words.

So when he does give in-depth answers, people tend to listen.

During his Super Bowl LIII postgame press conference, Belichick gushed about Brian Flores, the former New England defensive coordinator and new head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

"Brian called a great game as he has all year. He's done a tremendous job for me," Belichick said.

1050 by Carron J. Phillips. MOVED

^NBA<

^Mac Engel: The Mavericks can change basketball for the better with their new Super Euro Duo<

^BKN-ENGEL-COLUMN:FT—<The Golden State Warriors have defined an era of basketball, and the Dallas Mavericks can potentially do the same for the next generation.

Basketball benefits if this latest Mavs move nets a title.

No one has faith in the Euros more than Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson, and he is building a team that can potentially transform the way the entire game is played, and specifically how Euro ball eventually affects basketball in the United States.

900 by Mac Engel. MOVED

PHOTO

^Pistons trade Stanley Johnson to Bucks for Thon Maker<

^BKN-PISTONS-BUCKS-TRADE:DE—<The Detroit Pistons have made yet another trade as the deadline nears.

Just a few hours after sending away Reggie Bullock to the Lakers, a source has confirmed to the Free Press the Pistons have dealt forward Stanley Johnson to the Milwaukee Bucks for center Thon Maker.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been officially announced.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the deal.

Johnson, 22, the Pistons' first-round draft pick (eighth overall) in 2015, has battled with consistency through his career.

350 by Vince Ellis. MOVED

^Heat trade Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington to Suns for Ryan Anderson<

BKN-HEAT-SUNS-TRADE-1ST-LEDE:FL — The Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington eras have come to an end for the Miami Heat, with the guards dealt Wednesday to the Phoenix Suns for forward Ryan Anderson, in a deal that will save the team against the salary cap and luxury tax.

With Johnson holding an oversized contract that pays in excess of $19 million this season, with that amount also due for a player-option season in 2019-20, the Heat moved on in advance of Thursday's 3 p.m. Eastern NBA trading deadline.

As for Ellington, the 3-point specialist had fallen out of the team's rotation and was ultimately sacrificed for luxury-tax relief.

450 by Ira Winderman in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED

PHOTO

^David Murphy: Tobias Harris is the perfect player for the Sixers, now the team to beat in the East<

^BKN-MURPHY-COLUMN:PHI—<The 76ers are officially title contenders.

If you were to design some sort of computer program capable of customizing the perfect player to round out the Sixers lineup, that player would look a heck of a lot like the one they just acquired. In fact, nobody should be surprised if Tobias Harris ends up sticking around town longer than Jimmy Butler. But that's a conversation for later.

800 by David Murphy. MOVED

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^Dennis Smith Jr. ready to lead Knicks<

BKN-KNICKS-SMITH:ND — It was just over two weeks ago when Dennis Smith Jr. missed his sixth straight game for the Dallas Mavericks, the team listing various ailments as the reason, but neither side hiding the reality that he had separated himself from the team for two weeks to try to force his way out of Dallas.

All of which makes it hard to imagine that Smith arrived in New York to make his debut Sunday afternoon in the starting lineup and by Tuesday night, with one practice under his belt, was being described this way by David Fizdale, his new coach.

"He took total command of the team tonight," Fizdale said after Smith put up 25 points, six assists and five rebounds.

800 by Steve Popper in New York. MOVED

^Warriors' Klay Thompson on Kevin Durant's pending free agency: 'We're handling it great'<

BKN-WARRIORS-THOMPSON:SJ — One of the Warriors' pending free agents has been noticeably silent. Ever since the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas presumably to clear cap space for Kevin Durant, he has not spoken to local reporters during practice and postgame availability.

One of the other Warriors' pending free agents has been remarkably candid. For the past week, Klay Thompson has shown the same measured outook toward Durant's uncertain future as he has with any shooting slump.

600 by Mark Medina in Oakland, Calif. MOVED

^Pelicans' Mirotic wants to focus on finishing strong, then focus on his upcoming free agency<

BKN-PELICANS-MIROTIC:TB — For the 2017 offseason, the Bulls let Nikola Mirotic attempt to set his price in restricted free agency, but no offer sheet from another team materialized and he re-signed for two years and $27 million.

That contract, which the Bulls traded to the Pelicans in February 2018, expires this summer. Mirotic will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time.

"I'm very excited," Mirotic said. "My focus now is to get healthy and finish strong this season. You know I'm March man as well. March is coming."

400 by K.C. Johnson in Chicago. MOVED

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Wednesday's games

TNS expects coverage from the following games:

Denver at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m. EST

New Orleans at Chicago, 8 p.m.

Charlotte at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

San Antonio at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.

^NHL<

^Blocking shots in the NHL: 'You close your eyes and pray'<

HKN-BLOCKING-SHOTS:RA — Brock McGinn was down on the ice, in pain. A lot of pain.

The Carolina Hurricanes forward had just blocked a shot by defenseman Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, the puck catching McGinn near his left ankle. He struggled to get up, finally hobbling to the bench, grimacing as others around him patted him on the back.

Nearly everyone in the arena seemed to have their eyes on McGinn, as if somehow feeling part of his pain.

650 by Chip Alexander in Raleigh, N.C. MOVED

PHOTO

^Rangers trade Cody McLeod to Predators for draft pick<

HKN-RANGERS-PREDATORS-TRADE:ND — Hours before they are to take on the Boston Bruins in the third game of their five-game homestand, the Rangers announced Wednesday that they have traded rugged forward Cody McLeod to the Nashville Predators for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft. The Rangers called up Vinni Lettieri from their Hartford farm team to fill the roster spot.

McLeod, 34, returns to Nashville a little more than a year after the Rangers claimed the enforcer off waivers from the Predators in January 2018.

200 by Colin Stephenson in New York. MOVED

^Wild captain Mikko Koivu will miss rest of season<

^HKN-WILD-KOIVU:MS—<Wild captain Mikko Koivu will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee in a game Tuesday night.

The veteran center is set for surgery on Friday, the team announced.

The 35-year-old Koivu is the team's all-time scoring leader, with 688 points on 201 goals and 487 assists. He has one more year on his contract, at $5.5 million.

Koivu was injured during a 5-4 loss in Buffalo when he collided with Sabres winger Tage Thompson near center ice.

200 by Sarah McLellan. MOVED

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^Mike Sielski: Carter Hart has made the Flyers better pretty much by himself<

HKN-SIELSKI-COLUMN:PHI — Start with the save. Start there because it was more than just a brilliant moment of goaltending from Carter Hart, more than just the play that preserved the Flyers' 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.

Start with Hart's throwing himself to his right across the crease to the open side of the net, with Nikolay Goldobin's shot thudding against the inside of Hart's right arm, with everyone at the Wells Fargo Center gobsmacked that Hart arrived just in time, Spider-Man style, to prevent a game-tying third-period goal.

950 by Mike Sielski in Philadelphia. MOVED

PHOTO

^Jimmy Greenfield: The Blackhawks are playoff contenders and need to act like it<

HKN-GREENFIELD-COLUMN:TB — Don't do it, please. Don't be upset the Blackhawks are making a run at the playoffs.

Resist the urge to be anything less than thrilled that Patrick Kane is playing like a man possessed, that Jonathan Toews has recaptured a prime that appeared to be gone, and that the Hawks' power play is practically a sure thing.

Resist feeling conflicted when Erik Gustafsson is blasting overtime goals from the point like a youthful Brent Seabrook, when veteran Cam Ward and rookie Collin Delia are taking turns standing tall in the net or when Alex DeBrincat snipes another wrist shot past an unprepared goaltender.

700 by Jimmy Greenfield in Chicago. MOVED

PHOTO

Wednesday's game

TNS expects coverage from the following game:

Boston at NY Rangers, 8 p.m. EST

^COLLEGE FOOTBALL<

^Sources: The OC position was Art Briles' if he wanted it, but Southern Miss backed out<

^FBC-SOUTHERNMISS-BRILES:FT—<Southern Mississippi's football team has told former Baylor football coach Art Briles he will not be offered the position of offensive coordinator, sources said on Wednesday morning.

Sources said the reason USM officials told Briles he would not be offered the position was because of concerns over the NCAA's investigation of both he and the Baylor football program.

According to sources, Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson wanted Briles and interim athletic director Jeff Mitchell approved it.

450 by Mac Engel. MOVED

PHOTO

^COLLEGE FOOTBALL<

^FSU football has a plan at quarterback, Willie Taggart just won't discuss it right now<

FBC-FSU-TAGGART:PT — After failing to sign a quarterback for the second year in a row, Florida State coach Willie Taggart has a plan to solve his lack of depth at the game's most important position.

It's a pretty good plan, too, Taggart insisted Wednesday. Just don't press him for any details.

"I don't necessarily want to discuss it right now," Taggart said during his signing day news conference.

650 by Matt Baker in Tallahassee, Fla. MOVED

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^COLLEGE BASKETBALL<

Wednesday's games

TNS expects coverage from the following games featuring teams in the AP top 25:

No. 24 Maryland at Nebraska, 7 p.m. EST

Creighton at No. 14 Villanova, 8 p.m.

No. 19 Wisconsin at Minnesota, 9 p.m.

^AUTO RACING<

^Brendan Marks: Every new NASCAR season brings one thing in particular<

^CAR-MARKS-COLUMN:CH—<"Cars on the track."

It's good to read, right? Feels just as good to write, if we're being honest.

This weekend officially (sort of?) begins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season. Come Sunday afternoon, just as it'll be practically every weekend from now until November, there will be actual racing to watch. No more preseason chatter. No more predictions or artificial headlines.

Just actual cars, actually racing.

Welcome back.

550 by Brendan Marks. MOVED

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^OUTDOORS<

^Dennis Anderson: Conservation officer has proved worthy of DNR's highest accolades<

OTD-ANDERSON-COLUMN:MS — The call Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Mitch Boyum received was urgent, asking him to drive from his home in St. Charles, in southeast Minnesota, to Lanesboro, 24 miles away.

Come quickly, the caller said. Bring your boat.

Campers were trapped on an island in the Root River. Heavy rain was falling, and the river was rising fast.

Adam Eide, the Rushford police chief, arrived in Lanesboro about the time Boyum did, as did Preston Police Department Sgt. Blaise Sass.

900 by Dennis Anderson in Minneapolis. MOVED

^Brooks Johnson: Fly-tying makes a hard sport harder and more rewarding<

OTD-JOHNSON-COLUMN:DU — If I were to write a book about this endeavor, I'd call it "This Is Extremely Frustrating And I Will Never Stop Trying."

It's a working title.

This month I decided to make a difficult and rewarding sport even more difficult and rewarding by learning how to tie flies.

I'm already a novice fly fisherman, having netted just a few baby brookies on North Shore streams in the past few years. Despite going to college in Missoula, Mont., I didn't manage to pick up a fly rod until I left — too busy picking up pint glasses, alas.

750 by Brooks Johnson in Duluth, Minn. MOVED

^Lake of the Woods booming in final ice season of super-sized bag limit<

OTD-ICESEASON-BAGLIMIT:MS — The caterpillar tracks on Tim Hill's transport rig creaked loudly as he departed shore with another load of Lake of the Woods ice anglers.

It was 23 degrees below zero on a sunny, windless Friday afternoon and business was booming. Arnesen's Rocky Point Resort, self-proclaimed as one of the world's largest ice fishing operators, was welcoming yet another weekend crush of 350 visitors.

Hill, better known as "Wingnut," grabbed the steering wheel with both hands to turn the vehicle's beefy front skis. "Let's go fishing!" he said.

750 by Tony Kennedy in Roosevelt, Minn. MOVED

PHOTO

^Polar vortex can't keep fat bike enthusiast from finishing another Arrowhead 135 race<

^OTD-POLARVORTEX-FATBIKE:GF—<Scott Jensen admits he was nervous going into this year's Arrowhead 135 winter race in northeast Minnesota, given all the hoopla about the dreaded polar vortex and forecast record cold temperatures.

That's understandable when you're gearing up for a grueling, 135-mile wilderness ride on a fat-tire bike from International Falls to Tower, Minn.

"It was sort of a sense of foreboding," said Jensen, 57, a Grand Forks attorney and fat-tire bike enthusiast. "We woke up Sunday morning up in International Falls, it was 44 below, and my car wouldn't start."

950 by Brad Dokken. MOVED

PHOTO

^Dennis Anderson: Duck plan on deck? Minnesota needs it to come together — and quick<

^OTD-ANDERSON-COLUMN-DUCKS:MS—<Minnesota licensed fewer duck hunters last fall than at any time in history, a sad testament to the state's once-glorious waterfowl hunting tradition, during which for multiple decades more duck hunters went afield here in autumn than in any other state.

Yet the long-awaited update to the Department of Natural Resources' 50-year — 50-year — duck plan hasn't yet been started.

That was the astonishing news delivered at the recent DNR Roundtable by wildlife section chief Paul Telander, who was responding to a simple question: "How's the duck plan update coming?"

450 by Dennis Anderson. MOVED

^Best times for anglers<

^OTD-LUNAR:MCT—<100. MOVED

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