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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, July 22, 2018 at 12:00 AM

NFL NEWS & NOTES:
CAMPS OPENING ALL AROUND THE LEAGUE THIS WEEK AND WE'RE ALL OVER THE ACTION! ...

THE BASEBALL REPORT: THE BIGGEST OUT-OF-THE-BREAK NOISEMAKERS

The National Field League is open for business ... from Owings Mills to Latrobe to Metairie to Renton and all places in between it's time to pull on the spikes and get down to the nitty-gritty as all 32 teams will be in full-speed ahead camp mode by the time we get to the end of this July week.

Excited yet?

There's new head coaches in Arizona, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Indianapolis, with the New York Giants, in Oakland and in Tennessee - so no question all those camps will be getting ultra-scrutiny from their respective fan bases but let's go on record to state that new/old Raiders coach Jon Gruden already has made a big hit with fans of the silver and black after having a local sports bar "host" a major Raiders party that allegedly drew over 500 hard-core fans to the joint (P.S., no alcoholic beverages were served or so we were told!).

Hey, as long as we're talking new head coaches, let's check out the list and tell you what these teams did last year in terms of SU (straight-up) and ATS (against-the-spread) results:

TEAM NEW COACH SU / 2017 ATS / 2017
ArizonaSteve Wilks8-86-9-1
ChicagoMatt Nagy5-118-6-2
DetroitMatt Patricia9-78-7-1
IndianapolisFrank Reich4-128-8
NY GiantsPat Shurmur3-137-9
OaklandJon Gruden6-105-9-2
TennesseeMike Vrabel10-88-8-2

Okay, so camp with the Indianapolis Colts is gonna be a real blast in Westfield, IN as new coach Frank Reich must attempt to show the Midas touch with an offense that ranked next-to-last in the league last year (and a rotten 30th in passing). The Colts' veteran spring into action on Wednesday and the latest word from team GM Chris Ballard is that veteran QB Andrew Luck is "good to go" after missing all last season with shoulder woes. Luck recently advised reporters that he has no pain in his throwing shoulder but the team still plans on giving him an occasional off day in camp and Luck's been quoted as saying, "I'm not going out throwing out 150 balls a day." ...

Also, on Wednesday, the New York "Football" Giants open camp for their vets and last year was a real doozy for this NFC East crew that lost five games by a touchdown or less en route to a 3-13 campaign. Now, first-year head coach Pat Shurmur - yes, the head ball coach of the Cleveland Browns back in the 2011-12 seasons (when the Brownies won a total of nine games straight-up and registered a solid 15-14-3 ATS mark - looks to put all the pieces back together for an organization that's won two Super Bowls since 2007. One major order of business for Shurmur is getting the most possible from rookie RB Saquon Barkley who just signed on the dotted line this past weekend for $31.2 million over a four-year deal. Barkley wound up with a $20.76 million guaranteed contract - now that's really a major money commitment from "Big Blue" - and it'll be interesting to see how many "touches" the former Penn State megastar gets in the first couple of weeks of camp.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep winning big with Major League Baseball action every day - get all the MLB winners this week online or 1-800-323-4453. And remember the NFL Preseason swings into action with the annual Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens - that's Thursday, August 2nd at 8 p.m. ET (NBC) in Canton.

 

THE BASEBALL REPORT: SURPRISE, SURPRISE ON WHO'S HOT AFTER THE BREAK

Ladies and gents, we would've handed you a million bucks if you told us that coming out of this past week's Major-League Baseball All-Star Game break that the Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals were gonna be the teams that swept their weekend series ... strange but true!

In fact, interesting to see that the Pirates (51-49 now while heading into this Monday night game in Cleveland) are now winners of nine consecutive games and they're right smack in the chase for the National League Central (just eight games behind the front-running Chicago Cubs) and just four games back in the NL Wild Card chase with Milwaukee, Atlanta, Arizona and Colorado all still ahead in the "WC" standings.

Pittsburgh's three-game weekend series sweep at Cincinnati - 12-1, 6-2 and 9-2 with the Buccos actually gobbling up smallish prices in the latter two wins - included a 15-hit game on Sunday when underrated OF Corey Dickerson went 4-for-5 with three runs scored / two RBI and it featured a fourth home run in the past three games. The Pirates have come out of nowhere to make some noise both before and after the All-Star Game break - and how about some apologies from the folks that wanted to fire manager Clint Hurdle?

The Toronto Blue Jays (46-52) brought out the brooms this weekend-after-the-break while topping the woe-be-gone Baltimore Orioles 8-7 (in 10 innings), 4-1 and then 5-4 and all the while entertaining talks to trade popular but often-injured 3B Josh Donaldson. Okay, so the Jays were huge favorites in these games: - 150 last Friday night, - 195 on Saturday and minus two bills on Sunday when Toronto's four-run bottom-of-the-eighth inning was the diff-maker but gotta hand the North of the Border crew a gold star for a job well done.

Finally, a wee bit of love for the KC Royals who really have not found their way into our Jim Sez columns all that often this year: The Royals (30-68) were long ago eliminated from any/all post-season talk but even the world's worst baseball teams have their moments in the sun as Kansas City beat Minnesota 6-5 last Friday as + 120 underdogs, then copped a 4-2 win against the Twins as + 135 and finished off the weekend sweep with a 5-3 triumph on Sunday at plus 130 ... not a bad collection weekend for the second-worst team in the bigs.

NOTE: NFL Camps continue to open all around the league and we have all the updates in this week's Jim Sez!

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