Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Friday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EST:- The college basketball season begins Friday night, highlighted by four ranked teams in a Honolulu doubleheader: No. 10 Arizona vs. No. 12 Michigan State (7 p.m.) and No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 11 Indiana (9 p.m.).- College basketball teams set a high last season by taking 35 percent of their shots from beyond the 3-point line, a number that could rise this season.- With TV ratings down for the NFL this season, its been popular to point to a supposedly decreased quality of product. The AP talks to current and former players about what changes theyd like to see.- College football features only one game this weekend matching ranked teams -- No. 25 Baylor at No. 9 Oklahoma. But possible upsets abound.- TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In Friday nights lone Top 25 game, No. 20 Florida State plays at home on a Friday night for the first time since 1957. The Seminoles face Boston College and running back Dalvin Cook. Game starts 7:30 p.m.- COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The United States plays Mexico in a World Cup qualifier with political overtones days after the presidential election. This is an opener of the final round of qualifying from CONCACAF. Game starts 8 p.m.- The oldest rivalry in soccer resumes when England plays Scotland in a World Cup qualifier. Other notable matches on a busy night across Europe include France vs. Sweden and World Cup champion Germany vs. San Marino.- NEW YORK -- UFC 205 boasts Conor McGregor on a Madison Square Garden card Saturday night that brings one of the biggest mixed-martial arts events to New York.- AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Joe Gibbs Racing lays it all on the line this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, where three of its drivers are vying for two spots in the championship race.- OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Los Angeles Clippers, with an NBA-best 7-1 record, play Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Oklahoma City is 6-2 and the only team to beat the Clippers this season. Game starts 8 p.m.- There was a time when the NBA Development League was viewed as an outpost to be avoided at all costs. The D-League opens its 16th season Friday and has grown dramatically.- CHICAGO -- Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals visit Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks for a marquee matchup. The Capitals and Blackhawks split two games last season. Game starts 8:30 p.m.- PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico -- Chris Kirk leads by a stroke entering the second round of the OHL Classic. The former University of Georgia player has two top-10 finishes in three starts in the new PGA Tour season. Patrik Nemeth Jersey
. It might not have mattered. While the Dodgers are preparing for the playoffs, the Padres showed their future has promise behind two rookies. Blake Comeau Jersey
. -- The proud fathers huddled near the Dallas Stars dressing room, smiling, laughing and telling stories while wearing replica green sweaters of their sons team. http://www.authentichockeyshopavalanche.com/John-Wensink-Jersey/
. 1 position. The Mustangs (6-0), who beat Queens 50-31 last weekend, earned 17 first-place votes and 287 points in voting by the Football Reporters of Canada. Western was last ranked first in the country in October 2011. Cale Makar Jersey
. -- Ryan Getzlaf grabbed the three pucks wrapped in tape and held them up to his chest in the Anaheim Ducks dressing room for a celebration nine seasons in the making. Colin Wilson Jersey
. Pedro scored from a pass by Lionel Messi in the 33rd minute and added two more goals in the 47th and 72nd after Valdes saved his second penalty in four days following his stop in Wednesdays 4-0 over Ajax in the Champions League. It has been a frustrating 2016 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fan base. With recently nonexistent expectations raised by a couple brief postseason appearances, the Pirates unexpectedly find themselves below .500 after being swept by the Cubs and Brewers. How did the Pirates get here, and what might their short-term future hold?The Pirates have been one of the games feel-good stories in recent seasons. It wasnt long ago that they finally broke their seemingly interminable streak of sub-.500 seasons and turned things around to the point that their current losing streak is more than a bit off-putting, though they remain in the race for the second wild-card spot that seemingly no team wants to win.One of the factors that held the Bucs back during their generation of futility was a relatively low team payroll, and their standing in that regard has changed only modestly. Their Opening Day payroll checked in at just below $100 million ($99.945 million, to be exact), 19th in the majors. Their year-end ranking likely will fall a couple notches, thanks to the money-saving trades of Francisco Liriano and Mark Melancon.In 2012-15, the Pirates ranked 29th, 25th, 27th and 24th in team payroll, respectively. Over that span, the Rays and Astros weree the only other teams to rank 24th or lower each season, and only two other clubs, the Indians and As, ranked below 20th in each of those four seasons.ddddddddddddThe Pirates have a superb and still relatively new ballpark, and their attendance has trended up in recent seasons, but the fact is they will never be near the top of the games salary rankings. They have flexibility to make a big strategic add if the competitive situation dictates it, but there will never be much margin for error.Its pretty simple. If the Pittsburgh Pirates wish to be perennial contenders, they have two primary tasks.1) They must grow their own superstars. This is because they simply are not able to compete for players at the top, or even upper-middle region, of the free-agent market.2) They must outsmart other clubs in an environment in which everyone is getting smarter. They must be creative, anticipate trends and zig when others are zagging.Before we look at how the Pirates currently grade out in those two areas, lets take a step back and assess how the Pirates have arrived at the intersection of Contention Street and Mediocrity Avenue. Jerseys NFL Cheap Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys 2019 Jerseys From China Cheap Jerseys 2020 Jerseys NFL China China Jerseys
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