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Rockies at Indians: Looking ahead at the Aug. 8 game

August 7, 2017 - 5:51pm

Rockies RHP German Márquez (9-4, 4.11 ERA) at Cleveland RHP Corey Kluber (9-3, 2.77), Tuesday 5:10 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 850-AM

The Rockies will use a pair of 22-year-old Venezuelan rookies for two difficult pitching matchups in an interleague series at Cleveland, starting with Marquez. Kluber has been outstanding this season, as expected. In his last outing, the 31-year-old pitched a complete game against the Yankees, giving up just one run on three hits. Marquez, lately, has shown that kind of potential, throwing with a kind of controlled fire that sparked in a benches-clearing incident against Pittsburgh last month. The Rockies have won the past five games Marquez started. Nick Groke, The Denver Post

Wednesday: Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (10-4, 4.78) at Cleveland RHP Trevor Bauer (10-8, 5.00), 10:10 a.m., AT&T SportsNet

Thursday: Off

Friday: Rockies TBA at Marlins Jose Urena (10-5, 3.70), 5:10 p.m., AT&T SportsNet


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Newberry: Colin Kaepernick unemployed, but at least Jay Cutler has a job

August 7, 2017 - 5:35pm

Jay Cutler has a job playing quarterback.

Colin Kaepernick doesn’t.

Gotta hand it to the bigwigs who run the NFL: When they blackball a guy for taking a courageous stand against social injustice by doing nothing more than kneeling, they go all in.

In the latest development in the league’s efforts to make it clear that those who try to do the right thing need not apply — and, really, none of us should be surprised by this, not after all the years of denial over the devastating effects of head injuries — the surly Cutler signed a $10 million contract to contend for a starting spot with the Miami Dolphins .

Yes, this is the same Jay Cutler who compiled a glittering 68-71 mark as a No. 1 QB for Denver and Chicago over the better part of the past decade, all while continually rubbing people the wrong way with his selfish, petulant personality.

“No, didn’t like him,” Champ Bailey once said in a television interview, which ranks as perhaps the most positive assessment of Cutler from a former teammate.

Cutler, in fact, had decided to retire after starting only five games for the Bears last season, even landing a television gig with Fox.

Then the Dolphins came calling.

With Ryan Tannehill facing the prospect of missing the entire season with a left knee injury, the 34-year-old Cutler is getting an undeserved chance to revive his career with a team that made the playoffs last season.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick is still unemployed even though he is 4 1/2 years younger, had a better passer rating than roughly half the starting QBs in the league in 2016, and led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl just four seasons ago.

But Kaepernick committed the possibly career-killing infraction of choosing to kneel during the national anthem, his way of protesting police violence and social injustice.

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Quite naturally, his actions stirred plenty of debate, drew out both opponents and supporters, and became a flashpoint in a country polarized by political divisions and a bitter presidential election. That was to be expected. But it shouldn’t have cost him a chance to carry on in his chosen profession, a profession he is clearly more qualified for than at least half of the 60 or so quarterbacks who’ll be occupying the top two spots on depth charts this season.

While the decision by the Dolphins isn’t an entirely apples-to-apples injustice — Cutler previously worked with Dolphins coach Adam Gase, a former offensive coordinator in Chicago, and Kaepernick’s wearing of a Fidel Castro shirt would have made it more difficult to gain acceptance in Miami than any other NFL city by far — it still epitomizes what a raw deal Kaepernick is getting.

Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin summed it up best after the Seahawks brought Kaepernick in for a visit , and like every other team in the league so far, decided not to sign him.

“My original position was, I thought that the situation last year with him taking a knee didn’t have anything to do with it,” Baldwin said. “After viewing what’s going on, I’ve got to take that back. I definitely think that the league, the owners are trying to send a message of staying between the lines. It is frustrating because you want to have guys that are willing to speak out about things that they believe in — whether you agree with it or not. That is definitely playing a role now, more so than I thought it was going to.”

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past weekend, let the oh-so-obvious cat out of the bag when he explained his team’s reasons for signing fence post-slash-alleged quarterback Luke McCown to serve as a backup this season. Jones, his nose growing longer with each word, told reporters his team was “looking for more somebody that we can evaluate and train and possibly be a quarterback of the future.”

Quarterback of the future? McCown? He just turned 36 years of age, has started a grand total of 10 games since entering the league in 2004, and is approaching the decade anniversary of his last touchdown pass.

The way things are going, Ryan Leaf may want to consider a comeback.

He’d probably get a shot before Kaepernick.

“If you take a step back and look at the overall picture, there’s a lot of teams in this league that could use a quarterback with Colin Kaepernick’s ability,” Baldwin said. “Why he doesn’t have a job? At this point, it’s very telling to me.”

The Baltimore Ravens have been pondering whether to sign Kaepernick , which seems logical given Joe Flacco‘s back issues. The group Color of Change even took out an advertisement on the Baltimore Sun’s website imploring, “It’s Time To Stop Making Excuses. Sign Kaepernick.”

But the Ravens have yet to pull the trigger on such a move, even though he threw 16 touchdown passes with just four interceptions last year for a woefully undermanned 49ers team that won just two games, and has 72 TDs and just 30 picks over the course of his career.

“I hope we do what is best for the team and balance that with what’s best for our fans,” said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, hardly sounding like the one who’ll lift Kaepernick out of purgatory.

But at least Jay Cutler has a job.

AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.

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Strong but kind, Don Baylor left an indelible mark on the Rockies

August 7, 2017 - 5:19pm

During his playing days, Don Baylor stood 6-foot-1 and weighed a rock-solid 201 pounds. He crowded the plate and dug in with menacing toughness. When he retired at the end of the 1988 season at age 39, he had been hit by pitches 267 times, a major-league record at the time.

His New York Yankees teammate Ken Griffey Sr. once joked that when Baylor got drilled, the trainers would put the ball on a stretcher and carry it off the field.

When the expansion Rockies took the field for the first time at New York’s Shea Stadium on April 5, 1993, Baylor was their manager. In 1995, he led the Rockies to the playoffs in just their third season of existence. He steered the Rockies for six seasons, his steely gaze always steady, his demeanor always intense, as he surveyed the field from his post on the dugout rail.

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But there was a gentler, softer side to Baylor, who died Monday at age 68 after a 14-year battle with multiple myeloma. Former Rockies remembered that side of Baylor as news spread throughout baseball that the man affectionately known as “Groove” was gone.

“Don Baylor, like no other man I ever knew, had this aura about him,” said Walt Weiss, a former Rockies manager and shortstop who played for Baylor in Colorado beginning in 1994. “Hearing about his death today was a punch in the gut.”

Todd Helton, the Rockies’ longtime first baseman who began his career under Baylor in 1997, was shocked to hear of Baylor’s death.

“Man, this is tough to hear,” Helton said. “He was the first guy who ever gave me a chance in the big leagues. He was a class act. I never, ever, heard a bad word about him.

“Sure, he was tough. But I was very impressionable as a rookie, and every time he had to sit me down, not play me, he would explain why. He didn’t have to do that. And what really set him apart as a manager was that he genuinely cared about his players. He talked to you about a lot of stuff, not just baseball.”

Slugger Dante Bichette said Baylor had a smile that could “light up a whole room.”

Weiss was a rookie with the Oakland A’s when he first met Baylor during spring training in 1988. The memory remains vivid.

“It was very first day of spring training, and it was Groove’s last season,” Weiss recalled. “He came over to me with that stern voice of his and said, ‘Son, come here. I need to talk to you.’

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“I mean, I only knew him from watching him on TV, but he told me all about the do’s and don’ts of being a major-leaguer. I just said, ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, sir.’ That moment had a big impact on me.”

Weiss specifically remembers a piece of baseball wisdom Baylor imparted.

“He said: ‘Don’t ever be intimidated by that pitcher on the mound. I don’t care if you are facing Nolan Ryan.’ ”

When Baylor died in his hometown of Austin, Texas, his wife, Rebecca, issued a statement that concisely summed up a professional baseball life that lasted nearly 50 years.

“Don passed from this earth with the same fierce dignity with which he played the game and lived his life,” she said.

Over a productive 19-year career, Baylor played for the Orioles, Athletics, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox and Twins. He was an all-star and won the AL MVP with the Angels in 1979, when he led the majors in RBIs (139) and runs (120). Baylor wore the uniforms of 14 different organizations during his career as a player, manager and coach.

But Rockies fans will always hold a special place in their hearts for the club’s first manager. Baylor also spent two seasons in Colorado as a batting coach in 2009-10.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Becky and the entire Baylor family,” Rockies owner Dick Monfort said in a statement. “Don was instrumental in the creation of the Rockies and in his two stints with the club, he left an impact on each and every one of us. He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many. His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever. This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball.”

To honor their first manager, the Rockies will hang a Baylor jersey in their dugout beginning with Tuesday night’s game at Cleveland. The club is planning a tribute to Baylor next Monday when the Rockies host Atlanta.

When Bob Gebhard was named Colorado’s first general manager, one of his first major decisions was hiring a field manager. Baylor, the hitting coach at St. Louis at the time, had never managed before, but Gebhard thought he was the perfect man for a difficult job.

“I talked to him in the lobby of a hotel in St. Louis, and he went right to the top of my list,” Gebhard said. “I could tell, instantly, that there was a lot of fire there. The longer we talked, the more I knew he was the guy.”

“He was tough and had this inner fire. We were able to get Don Zimmer into Colorado as his bench coach, and we got down to business. We had to deal with about 60 players that first spring training, but that team eventually became the Blake Street Bombers.”

Bichette, who thrived under Baylor, said Baylor was the best manager he ever played for, adding, “He’s a man I owe a lot to.”

In 1995, Bichette led the National League in hits (197), home runs (40) and runs batted in (128).

“Don was my guy, the guy who gave me an opportunity, and I loved him for it,” Bichette said. “In 2015, when we had our 20th anniversary celebration of the ’95 playoff team, I wanted to make sure he knew that I really, really, cared about the guy. I made sure and told him.”

Baylor, the player, was aggressive. He had 285 career steals, most of them early in his career, posting a career-high 52 with Oakland in 1976. Baylor, the manager, was equally aggressive. In 1996, the Rockies became the first team in major-league history to hit 200 homers and steal 200 bases in the same season.

“‘Groove used to put all of us in the last group of batting practice, because the visiting team would come out right then to start stretching,” recalled Bichette. “So their pitchers would be out there, and they had to watch us. We could really clobber the baseball, especially during batting practice. That could be a little bit intimidating for pitchers coming into Coors Field.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement on Baylor, saying: “Don used power and speed to earn American League MVP honors with the Angels in 1979 and contributed to three straight pennant winners in a great 19-year major-league career. He then became the first manager in Rockies history, guiding them to their first postseason in just their third year of play. Throughout stints with 14 different major-league teams as a player, coach or manager, Don’s reputation as a gentleman always preceded him.”

As for the nickname, it was bestowed upon him by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson in 1970, the year Baylor made his big-league debut with the Orioles. According to the book “Once They Were Angels” by Rob Goldman, Robinson asked a room of full of prospects how many of them actually expected to crack Baltimore’s talented, veteran lineup.

“Once I get in a groove, it doesn’t matter who is out there,” Baylor said.

Robinson shot back: “Pretty brash words for a rookie, don’t you think?”

Baylor didn’t back down, and finally Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger said: “Groove — I like it, boys. That name is going to stick.”

And so it did.

“Groove is going to be missed,” Weiss said. “He was one of the most impressive men I have ever known.”

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Colorado’s unemployment drop came despite weaker than expected hiring, confounding economists

August 7, 2017 - 5:07pm

Colorado’s unemployment rate was expected to rise from 3.5 percent to 3.9 percent this year as more workers came back into the labor force, according to a forecast last December from the University of Colorado Boulder.

But not long after the Colorado Business Economic Outlook came out, Colorado’s labor markets took an unexpected turn. The state’s unemployment rate dipped to a historic low of 2.3 percent in April and stayed there in May and June, despite slower than expected job gains.

“Colorado employment in 2017 is now projected to increase by 55,800, or 2.2 percent for the year,” said Brian Lewandowski, associate director of the Business Research Division at the Colorado Leeds School of Business, as part of a midyear update for the original forecast.

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Back in December, CU Boulder forecasters were calling for the addition of 63,400 jobs, which represented a 2.4 percent rate of growth. They expected the number of unemployed to rise from 100,500 to 114,000 during 2017.

That anomaly occurs because a good job market in theory will draw in workers on the sidelines. But in June, the number of unemployed stood at 67,193. The state has experienced that decline despite softer economic growth and slower than expected job gains.

Colorado’s GDP rose 0.4 percent between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. By contrast, in Texas, state GDP was up 3.9 percent, Washington was up 2.7 percent and Utah 1.9 percent between the fourth and first quarters.

For all of 2016, Colorado’s GDP rate rose 2 percent, which was the 10th-fastest of any state. The three fastest-growing industries that helped drive that growth were information, up 8 percent, construction, up 5.3 percent and education and health services, up 4.9 percent.

Colorado for two months had the lowest unemployment rate in the country, until South Dakota joined it at 2.3 percent in June. Fort Collins-Loveland had the lowest metro unemployment rate in the state, at 2.1 percent, followed by Boulder at 2.3 percent, Greeley at 2.5 percent and metro Denver at 2.5 percent. Even the laggards, Grand Junction at 3.6 percent and Pueblo at 4 percent, had unemployment rates below the U.S. average in June of 4.4 percent.

What makes Grand Junction’s low unemployment rate stand out is that it added only 200 jobs the past year, and its 0.2 percent annual rate of job growth ranked 330th in the country. Despite that, its unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent in June 2016 to 3.6 percent in June 2017.

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Jake Bennett does his part to extend Colorado State’s O-line legacy

August 7, 2017 - 4:54pm

FORT COLLINS — Though his memory needed a reminder, Jake Bennett is where he wanted to be in the end.

Coming out of Bear Creek High School at a time when Colorado State’s football program had hit a dry spell, Bennett was keeping his options open, going against the grain of his thinking as a youth.

His father had attended CSU, and his uncle and his friends had graduated from there. He even has a picture of himself as a youngster at Hughes Stadium.

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“I’ve got a picture of myself on the sidelines back when it was grass up here,” said Bennett, now the senior center for the Rams. “We were by the tunnel, and it was pretty cool. I think (Joel) Dreessen caught a pass that day and nearly took me out. That was pretty sweet.”

Of course the thought of being the child run over by a tight end would sound pretty cool to Bennett. All it took for him to sign on the dotted line was a return trip to Fort Collins, and he said, “I fell in love with it again, so it was a pretty easy decision for me.”

A quality one for the Rams, too, as they picked up a player who was raised as a CSU fan, one who as a player understands the traditions of the offensive line room and was determined to uphold them.

Read the full story at ReporterHerald.com.


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New law says students must be told about skilled labor, military careers

August 7, 2017 - 4:52pm

A law that goes into effect Wednesday mandates public schools in Colorado must inform high school students that not all post-secondary paths lead to college.

School counselors also must tell students about jobs as skilled laborers and military personnel.

“A four-year college degree may be a good fit from some,” said Phil Covarrubias, the Brighton Republican and owner of an excavation company who sponsored House Bill 1041. “But I want students to know that there’s great opportunity in trade schools and through military service that doesn’t require the enormous cost of tuition at universities.”

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The bill requires that each student’s Individual Career and Academic Plan include information about the various career pathways available to them, and the types of certificates and jobs to which each pathway leads.

The law will help reintroduce skilled trades to high school students, who can earn early apprenticeships and exposure to good-paying jobs right after graduation, Covarrubias said.

Schools in Colorado should not have any problems implementing the new law, said  Matt Cook, director of public policy and advocacy for the Colorado Association of School Boards.

“A number of school districts already include information about skilled jobs and possible military service in a student’s academic plans,” Cook said. “This law just makes it more uniform around the state.”

Labor officials say there is a shortage of skilled workers to fill jobs in traditional trades, Covarrubias said.

A 2015 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Association of Home Builders said there are 143,000 vacant construction positions nationwide, and 69 percent of the members surveyed were experiencing delays in completing projects due to a shortage of workers.

Also, a 2015 Deloitte survey of manufacturing executives found eight in 10 said the expanding skills gap will affect their ability to keep up with customer demand, and that it took an average of more than three months to recruit skilled laborers.

After a drop from 2009 to 2012, enrollment in career and technical education courses has surged in Colorado with more than 125,000 high schoolers and 20,000 middle schoolers enrolling in 2015.

Officials say many are drawn by the prospects of landing a steady, high-paying job right out of high school while avoiding high college debt.

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Kicker Mason Crosby, Packers look to get leg up on field goals

August 7, 2017 - 4:34pm

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Hitting field goals in the NFL comes down to more than just making a strong, accurate kick.

The snap must be on target, while the holder has to make a clean catch and set up the ball at the correct angle. All this must be done in a matter of seconds.

The Green Bay Packers are working on this process after the normally dependable Mason Crosby missed six of his last seven kicks at the team’s Family Night practice. Crosby is working with a new long snapper in Derek Hart, along with a new holder in punter Justin Vogel. Both are undrafted rookies.

Coach Mike McCarthy and special teams coach Ron Zook said the blame falls on the whole field goal unit, not just Crosby.

“Ah gosh, obviously it wasn’t very good Saturday night,” Zook said Monday. “But obviously we’ve got to get better. We will get better.”

The Family Night practice was the team’s first this preseason at Lambeau Field, an annual event that drew 63,000 fans despite a brief weather delay. It is as close as rookies and newcomers will get to the atmosphere of the first preseason game at home against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.

Crosby described the process as a running like a fine-tuned machine when successful. The Packers have another month to get up to speed before the regular season begins.

“You go out there in front of 80,000 people and believe it or not, everybody is kind of amped up a little bit, things change, and that’s a great experience,” Zook said. “One of the things (Hart) said, ‘I wish we could do this more often.’ I said, ‘Well, you’ll get your chance Thursday. We’re going do it again.'”

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Hart is trying to replace long-time snapper Brett Goode, while Vogel is trying to become the Packers’ third punter in three seasons. Last year’s punter, Jacob Schum, is on the reserve/injured list with a back injury. Schum had replaced six-year veteran Tim Masthay toward the end of training camp in 2016.

Crosby is the Packers’ franchise scoring leader with 1,267 points going into his 11th season in Green Bay. He hit 86.7 percent of his field goals last season, the second-highest mark of his career behind 2013 (89.2 percent).

“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had the same snapper for the last nine years prior to this, so the consistency there, it takes some work, it takes some time,” Crosby said. “Justin and Derek need to get in sync with their stuff and then I just have to trust and go.”

NOTE: CB Davon House missed practice on Monday after injuring his right hamstring at the Family Night practice. “Just trying to be smart. Week 1 is a month away. I don’t want to hurt it out there at practice before the real games start,” House said.


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Love figs? Know how to treat them right

August 7, 2017 - 4:31pm

No food feels more like manna from the heavens to me than fresh figs. Plump and sweet with a sensuous meatiness, they are the epitome of food’s ability to both nourish and delight. The window to take advantage of them is fairly short, from late summer to early fall, so snap them up while you can. And when you do, be sure to devote some to making these scrumptious tarts, which harness the fruit’s essence for a fresher, healthier take on baklava.

The tart’s base is like the traditional dessert with layers of phyllo dough. But here, rather than being coated in lots of butter, they are brushed with good-for-you olive oil spiked with just a touch of butter. The phyllo is then cut into squares and pressed into the wells of a mini-muffin tin to form a dozen mini-tarts. (You could use pre-made phyllo tart shells instead, if you prefer to skip this step.) The cups are filled with finely chopped walnuts tossed with cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar, then baked until crisp and golden.

The figs are what make this dessert, in truth. They are poached with honey, water, lemon and cinnamon until just softened, then they are removed from the pot so that the liquid can be reduced further. The resulting syrup captures the fresh flavor and inherent sweetness of the fruit, ultimately making for a pastry that is pleasantly sweet, but much less intensely so than regular baklava, which is made with a sugar and honey syrup.

The cooled fig syrup gets poured over the still-hot pastry so that you hear it sizzle and settle, locking in the crispness of the phyllo shell. Then each is topped with the gently poached figs for a sweet-tooth satisfier that is both healthful and alluring.

Fig Baklava Tartlets

6 to 12 servings

These mini-tarts harness the luscious sweetness of fresh figs for a fruity, more healthful take on baklava.

To make these even easier to assemble, you can skip the layering and cutting of phyllo dough and use small, store-bought phyllo shells instead.

Make Ahead

The figs can be cooked, cooled and refrigerated, separate from the reduced syrup, a day in advance. The baked phyllo cups can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Top with the figs just before serving.

From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • One 3-inch-long-by-1/2-inch-wide strip of lemon peel (no pith), plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 6 fresh black mission figs, quartered lengthwise (about 5 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 sheets phyllo dough (see headnote)

Steps

Combine the water, honey, lemon peel, lemon juice and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture begins bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the figs. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until they are until tender but still retain their shape. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the figs to a bowl.

Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel from the saucepan and discard. Increase the heat to medium-high; cook the remaining liquid for about 2 minutes, or until it has reduced to a syrupy 1/2 cup. Let cool.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves, if using, in a small bowl. Combine the oil and melted butter in a separate bowl.

Set the stack of phyllo dough on a clean work surface and cover with damp paper towels, keeping the stack covered as much as possible as you work. Transfer one sheet of the phyllo to a large cutting board, and brush the top with the oil-butter mixture. Lay another sheet directly on top of that one and brush it with the oil mixture. Repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo.

Use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo stack into twelve 3-inch squares. Press one stack of the squares into each well of a 12-well mini-muffin pan, folding or fluting the edges slightly to make an attractive cup. Fill each cup with equal amounts of the walnut mixture, then bake (middle rack) for 13 to 15 minutes, until the phyllo is crisped and golden.

While the phyllo is still hot, drizzle the cooled syrup into each of the phyllo-walnut cups (in the muffin pan). Top each with 2 pieces of fig; cool to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition | Per piece: 170 calories, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar

 

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City Park Golf Course redesign contracts are set for approval as legal challenge heads to trial

August 7, 2017 - 4:29pm

Two weeks before a trial is set to begin in the legal challenge of a redesign of City Park Golf Course, the Denver City Council on Monday could approve $51 million in contracts for the project.

Opponents of the city’s controversial Platte to Park Hill storm drainage plan, which includes a stormwater detention area on the western third of the golf course, argue that city officials should wait until the lawsuit is resolved. A four-day trial is set to begin Aug. 21 in Denver District Court.

“The plaintiffs think it is putting the cart before the horse to approve the expenditure … before there’s been a determination of whether the project can legally proceed,” said Aaron Goldhamer, who filed the lawsuit last year, referring to the main construction contract. “It’s unclear if the city simply doesn’t care to wait a few weeks for the court before committing public funds, or wants to wave around an approved contract in the lawsuit, or both.”

City attorneys have told the council that they are confident they will prevail in the trial, so public works and parks officials plan to keep the project moving. They argue the redesign will “seamlessly integrate stormwater detention into the course.”

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But critics express concern about the resulting loss of an estimated 263 trees (nearly one-third of the course’s total) and a connection between the storm drainage projects and the state’s Interstate 70 overhaul. The project is expected to close the golf course from late 2017 to 2019.

Judge David H. Goldberg on July 28 denied the city’s motion for summary judgment, finding that genuine disputes over the facts make a trial necessary.

Provided sketchA conceptual design of the City Park Golf Course makeover that will go before Denver City Council next week.

At 5:30 p.m., the council is set to consider a $44.9 million, three-year contract with a team that includes architect/designer iConGolf Studio, Saunders Construction and Aspen Corp.

A separate, $6 million contract with Parsons Transportation Group covers management of that project and a related set of drainage projects in Park Hill. The council also is set to consider a $7.6 million contract with Flatiron Constructors to install sewer pipes along Dahlia Street north and south of I-70.

Provided by Denver Public WorksA map produced by Denver Public Works shows the major components of the Platte to Park Hill drainage projects.

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This pasta dish, starring summer leeks and shrimp, tastes good at any temperature

August 7, 2017 - 4:15pm

I advocate this week on behalf of summer leeks, which tend to get overlooked at the farmers market. They are milder in flavor than their winter-harvest ilk and saute easily into the kind of savory, slip-sliding mix-in that makes this pasta dish such a happy jumble.

Even with its thinner profile, the summer leek still needs the same care and attention to rid its many layers of grit. Because we’re slicing them into thin rounds, it’s best to drop them into a bowl of cold water with ice cubes and let them sit for a few minutes, during which time the grit will fall to the bottom. Then, use slotted spoon to lift them out of the water – don’t tip the bowl and drain or the grit will be reintroduced. If a few ice cubes go into the pan, that’s okay.

For this recipe, be sure to look for dried fettuccine packaged in cello bags – the noodles will be eggy and delicate-looking, not the straight and wider dried fettuccine in a box. They will cook quicker and insinuate themselves so well with the saucy leeks, shrimp and almonds.

The dish is light-tasting. Even though it’s pegged at four to six servings, if you don’t have that many plates to fill, I recommend making the batch as is for leftovers the next day. Just add a handful of chopped fresh tomato or avocado cubes, a splash of white wine vinegar and/or olive oil for Round Two, served cool or at room temperature.

Fettuccine With Leeks, Shrimp and Toasted Almonds

4 to 6 servings.

Serve with a salad of shaved fennel.

The dried fettuccine that works best here is the crinkly kind that’s available in most supermarkets, typically packaged in a cellophane bag. The Al Dente brand is a good example. It cooks faster than most dried pastas.

Adapted from “In a Nutshell: Cooking and Baking With Nuts and Seeds,” by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian (W.W. Norton, 2014).

Ingredients

  • 3 medium or 4 thin leeks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 8 ounces dried fettuccine, preferably Al Dente brand (see headnote)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Leaves from 4 stems flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound large peeled/deveined shrimp (no tail shells)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Fill a mixing bowl with water and ice cubes.

Trim the leeks (discarding dark greens and root ends) and split them in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into thin slices, then transfer to the ice water bath and let soak for 10 minutes.

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Add a good pinch of the salt to the boiling water, then add the pasta. Cook for about 3 minutes, or just until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander in the sink.

Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Chop the parsley leaves.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat; add the almonds and toast for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel to cool.

Add the oil to the skillet; increase the heat to medium. Once the oil shimmers, use a slotted spatula to lift the leeks out of their ice-water bath and transfer them to the skillet; do not tip and drain the leeks, to avoid re-introducing any grit.

Add the garlic to the skillet, stirring to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the leeks are fragrant and beginning to soften.

Toss in the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, then pour in the wine and broth. Season with the salt and pepper, then cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the butter and parsley, stirring until the butter has melted. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon half.

Transfer the fettuccine to the skillet and turn off the heat; toss to coat and incorporate the sauce and shrimp. Taste and add salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Serve warm.

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 6): 320 calories, 23 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 150 mg cholesterol, 340 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

 

 

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Dusty Baker mourns the death of his longtime friend Don Baylor

August 7, 2017 - 4:04pm

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker walked into the conference room at Nationals Park on Monday, still in his street clothes except for a pair of red flip-flops he had on over his socks — a sign of a man whose mind was elsewhere, or perhaps whose shoes were soaked by pounding afternoon rain.

After a few minutes of the usual baseball chatter, he was asked about Don Baylor, the former major league player and manager who passed away early Monday morning at age 68. Baker was born 13 days before Baylor, and their careers paralleled each other for decades — never intersecting for long, but never too far apart. Baker’s voice dropped and thoughts flowed, more disorganized than usual, interrupting one another.

“We signed the same time. We were in Double-A against each other, Triple A for two years. I was supposed to be the next Hank Aaron. He was the next Frank Robinson with the Orioles,” Baker said, offering no grand assessment of his friend’s life, seemingly still sorting through the memories himself.

“We fought for batting titles all the way up. We played in Puerto Rico together. His first wife picked out my first wife’s engagement ring. That was the first time I had ever gone to Baltimore, was when I drove up to see Donny.”

Baker was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976. Baylor joined the California Angels in 1977. Baker won two Silver Sluggers and made two all-star teams. Baylor won three Silver Sluggers and made one. Both of their playing careers ended in Oakland, a couple years apart. Baker won National League manager of the year in 1993, 1997 and 2000. Baylor won National League manager of the year in 1995. They were perpetual opponents and longtime friends.

Baylor’s wife called Baker on Saturday, and so did Hall of Fame writer Claire Smith. Baker spoke to Baylor then, an opportunity for which he was grateful in emotional retrospect.

“I learned that when somebody says call me back — a couple times someone called me and I was going to wait til tomorrow — but that person died before I called back. So when somebody says call ’em, somebody’s not doing well, you better call ’em right then,” Baker said. “Because there’s nothing worse than somebody calling and saying somebody’s not doing well and they’ve died already.”

Baker did get to speak with Baylor before his death. Then, early Monday morning, he woke up to go to the bathroom.

“I knew something was wrong,” Baker said. “The last time I had that feeling was when Bobby Welch died (in 2014).”

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Baker has seen several close friends pass away during his Nationals tenure, and they seem to weigh on him, each taking a new toll on the second-oldest manager in baseball. As he spoke about Baylor, in a voice so hushed reporters clamored to confirm which names he actually mentioned in his stories, Baker seemed to talk his way into reflection again — something he does often, but not like this.

“They say death travels in threes,” Baker said. “I just found out (former Phillies pitcher) Darren Daulton left, and (former Giants clubhouse attendant) David Loewenstein, Al Rosen’s kid, died last week, and (former big leaguer) Lee May.”

Loewenstein, Daulton and Baylor were all younger than Baker when they passed, succumbing to lengthy battles with illness.

“I was just listening to Tupac today, ‘Death Around the Corner.’ I don’t know if you all know that song or not, but indeed, you just don’t know how close death is to all of us. Just treat each other right and try to do the right thing …” Baker said. “I didn’t mean to go on that long.”


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City girls on horses revive the spirit of the historic Camp Nizhoni

August 7, 2017 - 3:53pm

As the girls lugged saddles and bridles from the tack shed to the hitching rail outside the corral, confidently preparing their horses for the hour-long trail ride ahead, the only giveaway that these were city kids was their tennis shoes.

Neither the nuisance of biting flies nor the smell of fresh manure, amplified by the sweltering heat, fazed them in the least. After six weeks of coming to Lincoln Hills Cares Equestrian Center, they had shifted into cowgirl mode.

Tucked in the foothills near Nederland, the Nizhoni Summer Equestrian Program provides young women the chance to care for and ride horses every Tuesday from June to August. They also have the chance to explore everything from water conservation to gold panning to the rich cultural history of Lincoln Hills.

The pastoral landscape that today beckons groups of day campers of many different backgrounds, was the lure that drew black Denver families to the mountains in the 1920s. But for people living in the era of Jim Crow segregation, Lincoln Hills was more than just a place for black families to experience nature’s calm. It was a reprieve from discrimination and racism. At the time the resort was founded, the Ku Klux Klan was a formidable force in Colorado, marching the streets in white robes and hoods.

Complementing its all-white summer camp on Lookout Mountain, the YWCA in 1925 launched the Nizhoni Summer Camp for black girls on the Lincoln Hills land. Each summer they exited the train onto campgrounds where they enjoyed campfires and singing under the stars, exploring nature and facing adolescent fears.

Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver PostBLACK HAWK, CO – JULY 18: The Nizhoni Girls experience a horseback trailride on July 18, 2017 near the Lincoln Hills Ranch in Black Hawk, Colorado. (Photo by Gabriel Scarlett/The Denver Post)

“Here I didn’t know nobody, but I talked to people and made friends,” said Allisa Caddell, 13, a current Nizhoni girl. “At home I’m just like an inside person and I’m kind of shy.”

Pamela Dudley has been the program manager for the last four years and said her own childhood was vastly different from most others in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood where she grew up. She was exposed to myriad outdoor experiences that led her to a lifetime of interaction with horses.

“My parents kept me very busy outdoors,” she said. “I had a very active summer life with summer day camps, and I went through an equestrian program myself.”

Dudley spends most of the work week managing her small construction-site cleanup business, but on Tuesdays in summer, she hauls girls up to Lincoln Hills Cares. The hour-long drive up the mountain gives her the chance to talk with the girls about challenges in their lives and finding their place in the world.

“When you’re young,” she said, “you’re starting to grow up and things are happening to you and you have nowhere to vent.”

In the past, Dudley has worked with girls heading into high school through their senior year, but decided that reaching girls at a younger age was even more beneficial. She’s a firm believer that their interactions with the horses will impact how the girls handle situations at home.

“When you come here and you’re dealing with these horses, you have to be in charge,” Dudley said. “You have to have authority over your horse because if you don’t then you lose control and it’s chaos. It shows you a power you didn’t know you had — and at 10, that’s big.”

Even at 104 years old, Marie Greenwood has a sharp memory filled with lessons from Nizhoni. She speaks about her experiences there as though she can see the camp all around her.

“It was 1928, I was 15 years old and thrilled. It was absolutely the first time I had any experiences in the mountains,” Greenwood said. “It was a brand-new experience — hiking, singing and camping — but nature became my main interest. It opened up my eyes to all the beauty God had created around me and really gave me a place in the world.”

For Greenwood and the other Nizhoni girls of that era, the camp was a reprieve from the realities of discrimination and racism. While she didn’t experience the extreme prejudice in Denver that many saw in the South, she nonetheless felt she was regarded as a second-class citizen.

“The Klan had parades and we couldn’t eat in any restaurants downtown, not even Woolworth,” Greenwood said. “If we went to the theater, a little bell would ring and an usher right away would be there and make sure you were taken up to the balcony. Even if they had seats galore, we couldn’t sit down there.”

Greenwood, who in 1935 became Denver’s first black teacher when she took a job at Whittier Elementary, said Nizhoni gave her a sense of ownership in the world. But Lincoln Hills fell largely out of use in the 1950s and ’60s as segregation receded and the demand for all-black spaces diminished.

In 2006, Denver philanthropist and avid fly-fisherman Matthew Burkett purchased the resort and created the private Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club. Two years later, Burkett partnered with Denver investor Robert Smith to found Lincoln Hills Cares, a charitable organization that aims to preserve the history of the area, and the Nizhoni Equestrian Program was relaunched.

Managing director J.R. Lapierre joined Burkett in March 2015 to expand the program from a part-time summer program to a year-round operation, growing it from an average of 200 participants per summer to 2,200 per year. This year that number expanded to 8,000 kids, most of whom have never had experiences in the outdoors or with horses. About 10,000 are projected to participate next year.

By hosting inner-city kids — black, white, Latino — whose access to similar programs is limited by their social or economic circumstances, the camp revives the original purpose and historical significance of Lincoln Hills.

Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver PostJoy Wise, 13, a member of the Nizhoni Girls, guides her horse on trail ride on July 18, 2017 near the Lincoln Hills Ranch in Black Hawk.

In the 1920s, Denver had a growing, vibrant African-American community in the now historic Five Points neighborhood. As it became larger and more prosperous, Denver’s black community faced increasing hostility in the form of racially restrictive housing covenants and a resurgent Ku Klux Klan that included prominent local and state officials.

Affluence and animus collided, and the idea for Lincoln Hills was born. The goal was to create a place that blacks from Denver and elsewhere in the country could consider a haven from racism and as an alternative to racially segregated resorts, which were most times their only other option.

The only black resort west of the Mississippi River came to be in 1922, when E. C. Regnier and Roger E. Ewalt purchased the land and founded Lincoln Hills Inc. Frances “Mozetta” Currin, one of the early campers at Nizhoni, recalled that the Klan burned a cross into the Denver front yard of the white man who previously owned the property.

Key to the long-term popularity of Lincoln Hills was Winks Lodge, which opened in 1928. Obrey Wendell Hamlet, who went by the nickname “Winks,” built the lodge and adjacent tavern, which became a hub for black tourists and famous musicians each summer and fall.

Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lena Horne and others often stayed at Winks Lodge before or after playing clubs in Denver, and Hamlet also organized readings when writers such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston visited on their way to the West Coast. In 2014, the lodge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Gabriel Scarlett, The Denver PostMembers of Nizhoni Girls prepare for a horseback trail ride on July 18, 2017 at the Lincoln Hills Ranch in Black Hawk. Related Articles

Denver County Court Judge Gary Jackson, whose family runs six generations deep in Colorado, still visits the cabin that his great-grandfather built in Lincoln Hills in 1926. Filled with memories of shooting his Red Ryder BB gun and skipping rocks, Jackson said the oppressive racial attitudes of the 1920s and ’30s were not what brought him there.

“There was not a concern about prejudice and discrimination for me as a child or teenager,” he said. “It was not a flight to get away from anything bad in Denver, but to have a good time.”

Now, after a blazing July afternoon along the West Magnolia Trailhead, the girls returned the horses and ate sandwiches at the fishing clubhouse. Yazmine Chavez, 11, in her second year with the equestrian program, cultivates her own memories as she learns to fly- fish, doing archery and shooting a BB gun.

But for her, it’s mostly about the horses.

“To learn to feel comfortable and not to be scared,” she said, citing her most enduring lesson. “To know that you’re in control of the horse, they’re not in control of you.”

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Tim Tebow helps St. Lucie Mets set season attendance record

August 7, 2017 - 3:44pm

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — It’s official: Tebowmania is a hit for the St. Lucie Mets, and for the Florida State League.

Bolstered significantly by Tim Tebow‘s presence on the roster, the Class A Mets affiliate in the FSL has already set a single-season home attendance record with about a month left to play.

The team record was toppled on Friday night, when 3,399 fans pushed the attendance for the season to 108,057. Over the Mets’ first 29 seasons, the record attendance mark was 105,379.

St. Lucie is seeing nearly a 50 percent jump in average attendance per game over last season, and the interest in Tebow is clearly a major factor — one that overrides the Mets having the worst record this year in the FSL’s South Division.

And for the first time in four years, the FSL is going to see a rise in attendance.

The league drew 1,056,800 fans last season, and is on pace to significantly top that this season. That would snap a three-year run of FSL attendance dropping from the previous year; the league was down 11 percent in 2016.

A look at Tebow’s week:

HIGHLIGHTS: Tebow’s fifth homer of the year for the Mets back on July 29 was followed by a 0-for-13 slide that carried into this week, ending with a fifth-inning single against Tampa on Thursday. He had an RBI single in what became St. Lucie’s 4-3 win over Tampa on Saturday.

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AT THE PLATE: Tebow batted 3 for 24 (.125) this week — which included the completion of a suspended game — with three RBIs and six strikeouts.

ON THE SEASON: Counting his time in Columbia of the South Atlantic League, Tebow is 81 for 344 (.235) with eight home runs, 46 RBIs, 35 walks and 101 strikeouts. In 38 games with St. Lucie, he’s hitting .262 (34 for 130) with five home runs and 23 RBIs.

IN THE FIELD: Tebow still has only two errors with St. Lucie. He had seven with Columbia.

WHAT’S NEXT: Tebow and the Mets are home to start a three-game series against the Florida Fire Frogs (Braves affiliate) on Monday, then head across the state for a four-game set that starts Thursday at the Tampa Yankees. This week is also Tebow’s last as a twentysomething; he turns 30 on Aug. 14.


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Interior Department scraps Obama-era rule on coal royalties

August 7, 2017 - 3:39pm

By Matthew Daly, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department on Monday scrapped an Obama-era rule on coal royalties that mining companies had criticized as burdensome and costly.

The Trump administration put the royalty valuation rule on hold in February after mining companies challenged it in federal court. Officials later announced plans to repeal the rule entirely. The final repeal notice was published Monday in the Federal Register and takes effect Sept. 6.

Repealing the rule “provides a clean slate to create workable valuation regulations,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, adding that the repeal will reduce costs that energy companies would otherwise pass on to consumers.

Still, he said Interior remains committed to collecting every dollar due, noting that public lands are assets belonging to taxpayers and Native American tribes.

The valuation rule, crafted under the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama, was aimed at ensuring that coal companies don’t shortchange taxpayers on coal sales to Asia and other markets. Coal exports surged over the past decade even as domestic sales declined.

Federal lawmakers and watchdog groups have long complained that taxpayers were losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually because royalties on coal from public lands were being improperly calculated.

Interior disputed that, saying in the Federal Register notice that the soon-to-be-reinstated regulations “have been in place for more than 20 years and serve as a reasonable, reliable and consistent method for valuing federal and Indian minerals for royalty purposes.” As evidence, the agency noted that the Obama-era rule would have increased royalty payments by less than 1 percent a year.

Rules in place since the 1980s have allowed coal companies to sell their fuel to affiliates and pay royalties to the government on that price, then turn around and sell the coal at a higher price, often overseas. Under the now-repealed rule, the royalty rate would have been determined at the time the coal is leased, with revenue based on the price paid by an outside entity, rather than an interim sale to an affiliated company.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, hailed the repeal, saying it would encourage more responsible energy development and spur investment in federal and Indian lands.

But conservation groups criticized the action, calling it a “sweetheart deal” for the industry that will deprive states of much-needed revenues. About half the coal royalties collected by the federal government is disbursed to states including Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.

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Texas fugitive, wanted for sexual assault of a child, is arrested in Denver

August 7, 2017 - 3:38pm

A Texas fugitive wanted on suspicion of sexual assault of a child has been arrested in Denver.

Billy Joe McQueen, wanted by the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested Saturday by the U.S. Marshals Service, Denver police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

An arrest warrant was issued for McQueen on July 27 when he failed to appear in court on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and online solicitation of a minor.

Investigators determined McQueen was “hiding with family members” in Colorado, according to a Marshals new release, and he was working in the 3900 block of West Union Avenue. McQueen was taken into custody Saturday afternoon.


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Josh Norman, Zach Brown: NFL fines over rules emphasis won’t curb physicality

August 7, 2017 - 3:36pm

RICHMOND — Along with the touchdown celebration rule change, NFL officials visited Redskins training camp Sunday to discuss the league’s areas of emphasis regarding roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness this season.

While some Redskins’ defenders plan to adjust to rules designed to increase player safety by restricting how and where defensive players may strike offensive players, cornerback Josh Norman and Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Brown are prepared to be fined if they’re flagged for the new changes this year.

“I don’t know how you’re going to play this game anymore,” Norman said. “I’m lost. I don’t even worry about it or anything. I just go. If that happens, so be it, just like the penalties that was flying off the rafters [last year]. I just go.”

In the nearly 11-minute video from the league viewed by the team and media, senior vice president of officiating Alberto Riveron stated a defender “must use his arm, or arms, to swipe or grab the lower leg of the passer to tackle him legally” to protect the passer and avoid a roughing-the-passer penalty. Carl Johnson, the NFL’s former vice president of officiating who in 2012 became the league’s first full-time official, later clarified to the media that a player cannot wrap up a quarterback using his shoulders below the waist this year.

“I feel like they’re doing it more for the ratings to protect them because, at the end of the day, if you hit ’em too hard and hurt ’em, they’ll say, ‘Ah, you might get ejected from the game,'” Brown said. “It’s still football at the end of the day. You know what you signed up for. If you get hit hard and violent, and it’s legal, you gotta be a man and take it. You signed up to get hit, then you gonna get hit.”

Brown, in his sixth season, said it’s difficult for defenders to adjust their instincts because it will cause them to hesitate while hitting the passer.

“It’s like you’re running out there and gotta bear hug ’em, kind of, to take ’em to the ground,” Brown said. “Most of the times, I just go in there. If I get fined, I get fined. Forget it, you’re gonna get hit.”

Players cannot drive the helmet, shoulder, forearm or chest at a passer’s knee area or below, but there is no foul if the contact is unavoidable and no protection for the passer outside the pocket. It forces pass rushers to either aim at a quarterback’s chest or be cautious below the waist.

“It has to be with like a rolling motion [below the waist]; it’s really weird,” said Pro Bowl outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who led Washington with 11 sacks last year. “It can’t be a shoulder that’s driving into it and driving straight back. It kind of has to be like a wrap with the arms and a roll. It’s confusing, so I’m just going to try and hit center mass every time.”

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Kerrigan feels defensive backs have it worse than pass rushers with the many ways they can get flagged. This year, officials can call unnecessary roughness if they believe a defender initiates unnecessary contact against a receiver running a pass route that is viewed in a defenseless posture, according to Article 7 in the NFL rule book. The video showed three legal plays where defenders avoided contact with receivers on incomplete passes in split-second situations while former NFL cornerback and current executive vice president of NFL football operations Troy Vincent said, “There are times when you have the opportunity to take a shot at someone in a defenseless posture. It’s up to you to pass it up.”

Norman led the league with 14 penalties last year, including two unnecessary roughness calls. It has been an area of criticism throughout the offseason, but Norman plans to remain aggressive this season despite these areas of emphasis.

“They’re the people that are always going to poke at what someone does that’s actually trying to work at perfection,” Norman said. “They always want to poke at that. They always want to see something that degrades someone else from how they really are, because I’m a physical guy. But if you think about it, there’s not physicality in the league no more. It’s all these hand-me-down rules and fluff plays. It’s like powder puff out here, so you can’t really do much. Therefore, when you’re aggressive with someone, you don’t see that anymore because it’s become so much of a soft society in how we do things.

“The league is obviously giving more things to the offense. When you get aggressive with people and getting more penalties, ‘Oh, why you doing all that? Why you getting penalties? You’re hurting your team.’ Actually, no. I’m being physical. I’m being a mind-set of my team. If you know you’re going to play us, it’s going to be a long day. You’re not going to come out here and throw your little jock strap on the field and think you’re going to run over us. It’s that mentality you’ve got to have, and people don’t understand that. And I don’t for them to understand it. They just watch the game. That’s it. They wanna talk about it, so be it. But when they step between the white lines, they’ll understand it. Trust me.”


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Donald Trump looks to loyal voters as support slips, agenda stalls

August 7, 2017 - 3:35pm

WASHINGTON — After six months of infighting, investigations and legislative failures, President Donald Trump is trying to combat new signs of weakness in his Republican base and re-energize his staunchest supporters.

White House officials have been urging the president to refocus on immigration and other issues that resonate with the conservatives, evangelicals and working-class whites who propelled him to the Oval Office. The president has ramped up his media-bashing via Tweet, long a successful tactic for Trump, and staged rallies hoping to marshal his base to his defense.

The effort underscores Trump’s shaky political positioning not yet seven months into his presidency. Trump has remained deeply unpopular among Democrats, and there are signs that his support among Republicans may be softening. His advisers are aware that a serious slip in support among his core voters could jeopardize hopes for a major, early legislative accomplishment and would certainly increase Republicans’ worries about his re-election prospects.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway acknowledged the concerns Sunday on ABC, saying the president’s approval rating “among Republicans and conservatives and Trump voters is down slightly.”

“It needs to go up,” she said.

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In a Monday morning tweet, Trump dismissed his adviser’s statement. “The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before,” he wrote on Twitter. He later insisted that his support “will never change!”

But polling doesn’t support Trump’s claim. A recent Quinnipiac University survey showed the president’s approval dipping into negative territory among whites without college degrees — a key group of supporters for the president. The percentage of Republicans who strongly approve of his performance also fell, with just over half of Republicans saying they strongly approved of Trump. That’s down from the two-thirds of Republicans who strongly approved of the president’s performance in June.

Just one-third of all Americans approved of his job performance, a new low in the poll.

The president’s struggles already have prompted public speculation about his political future. The White House pushed back angrily Sunday against a New York Times report about Republicans preparing for 2020 presidential race that may not include Trump. The report described Vice President Mike Pence as laying groundwork in case Trump does not run. Pence called the report “disgraceful.”

The chatter has been fueled by Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to shepherd health care legislation through Congress, the drip-drip of revelations about his associates’ ties to Russia and the churn of turnover and turmoil at the White House. The president’s advisers have tried to drown out the bad news by focusing on his agenda.

“They are telling him just enact your program,” Conway said of the president’s base. “Don’t worry about a Congress that isn’t supporting legislation to get big ticket items done. And don’t worry about all the distractions and diversions and discouragement that others, who are trying to throw logs in your path, are throwing your way.”

In a televised event at the White House last week, the president endorsed legislation that would dramatically reduce legal immigration to the United States. The bill is unlikely to ever become law, but that mattered little to Trump’s advisers. Their barometer for success was the reaction from conservatives like commentator Ann Coulter, who called the White House’s embrace of the controversial legislation “the best moment of the Trump presidency since the inauguration.”


Immigration is expected to continue being a focus for Trump in the coming weeks, including a push for the border wall. Officials also are weighing a more public role for White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, a favorite of Trump backers whose hard-line immigration policies irritate some congressional Republicans.

The appointment of White House chief of staff John Kelly also fits in to that effort. While Kelly was brought in primarily to bring much-needed discipline to the West Wing, officials note that he, too, is viewed favorably by some Trump loyalists for his early execution of the administration’s immigration policy as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly’s appointment was particularly welcomed by senior strategist Steve Bannon, who has taken on the task of ensuring Trump doesn’t drift from the promises he made to his base during the campaign.

Several White House officials and Trump advisers insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the ways the administration is moving to shore up support for the president.

Like Trump’s embrace of the legislation curtailing legal immigration, some of what the president has to offer his core supporters is more show than substance. In late July, Trump announced on Twitter that he was banning transgender people serving in the military — a policy shift sought by social conservatives — despite the fact that the Pentagon had no plans in place to enact the change. The policy is now being crafted.

Alice Stewart, a conservative who worked for the presidential campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, said Trump is right to make overtures toward his coalition of loyal supporters, even if some of his moves are incomplete.

“I think people realize half a loaf is better than none,” Stewart said.

Mitch Harper, a former GOP state legislator and Republican activist in Indiana, said Trump will get credit from conservatives even for partial measures simply because he is “articulating things that they have not heard anyone articulate in a long time.”

And what about the results? Harper said Trump supporters “are willing to wait.”

Indeed, even some of Trump’s advisers still marvel at the loyalty of the president’s supporters. For now, conservatives are pinning the blame on Washington’s failure to get health care done not on Trump, but on the handful of Republican senators who blocked legislation aimed at overhauling “Obamacare.”

“I think on health care the president is viewed as someone who did everything they could,” said Matt Schlapp, who heads the American Conservative Union.

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“New normal”: Grieving Nashville mayor back at work after son’s overdose death in Colorado

August 7, 2017 - 3:34pm

By Jonathan Mattise, The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A knock on the door woke Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and her husband Bruce out of a sound sleep around 3 a.m. When the mayor saw police at her door, she knew it must be bad news — maybe an officer was shot, and she was needed at the hospital to comfort a grieving family.

Instead, what the officer revealed just wouldn’t register: Her 22-year-old son Max was dead.

“He had to repeat it several times, because that was not what my brain could hear,” Barry said, her voice cracking, during a news conference Monday.

Barry returned to work Monday for the first time since her son died of an apparent drug overdose on July 29.

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It marked the start of a “new normal” for the grieving mayor — she won’t ever hear his voice or get his text messages again.

But even as she mourns her only child, Barry also knows she can be an important voice in drug abuse awareness and the opioid epidemic.

Max Barry’s death comes amid nationwide concern about a rise in fatal drug overdoses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports overdose deaths from all drugs that the government tracks rose from roughly 23,000 in 2002 to more than 50,000 in 2015.

In Tennessee, state health officials report 1,451 people died from drug overdoses in 2015 — the highest annual number of overdose deaths recorded in state history.

The mayor kept her composure as she went through the day’s duties Monday.


In an elementary school classroom she smiled wide and didn’t skimp on hugs as she delivered backpacks to students on their first day of classes.

She showed enthusiasm as she thanked the community for an outpouring of support for her son during the news conference that followed.

At times, though, she couldn’t hold back tears.

“Max will continue to inspire me and Bruce for the rest of our lives,” she said, starting to cry. “Our hearts will always be sad and empty because we can never replace our child. But I know that with my faith and I know that with my family, and I know that with my friends, we will get through this.”

The Barrys still don’t know what drug or drugs killed their son, as they await toxicology results. The mayor said Max had completed a month of rehab last summer. She didn’t specify what substances he went to rehab for.

“Max came home last summer to visit, and it was clear to me the minute that he got off the plane that he was in distress,” the mayor said. “And so we got him into rehab immediately.”

Afterward, he graduated from the University of Puget Sound — “almost on time,” she said. For the last few weeks, he poured concrete for a construction company in Denver and was looking for an apartment out there with friends. Eventually, he wanted to return to Nashville, Barry said.

Max Barry died at a private residence in Jefferson County, Colorado, near Denver. One of two other people in the home called 911, saying his friend was incoherent. First responders couldn’t revive him, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jenny Fulton said. His parents found out early the following morning.

Hours later, the Barrys announced their son’s death. They invited the public and the media to his memorial ceremony last week, and have been open about his overdose.

At the service, Bruce Barry donned the kind of backward baseball cap his son would wear and drew laughter and tears with his stories about the young man he called warm, sensitive, tolerant and inquisitive. What happened in Denver tells the story of his death, not his life, Bruce Barry said.

“My hope is that it may inspire, encourage other parents out there to have frank conversations with their own children about this,” the mayor said. “And if that saves one life, then what a blessing.”

Just before her son’s death, the mayor had visited the mother of 15-year-old Jaezoine Woods, who was shot and killed in late July. Barry told the heartbroken mother that she didn’t know her pain, but was there for her.

After Max Barry died, the mayor called Jaezoine’s mother back.

“I reached back out to her and told her, ‘Actually, now I do know your pain,'” Megan Barry said. “That was very sweet of her to send out her love and prayers to us.”Mark Humphrey, Associated Press fileFILE – In this Sept. 25, 2015, photo, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, center, is hugged by her son, Max, as her husband, Bruce, left, applauds after she was sworn into office in Nashville, Tenn. A statement released Sunday, July 30, 2017, from Megan and Bruce Barry, said their only child, Max Barry, died Saturday night in Denver from an apparent drug overdose. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

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Woman found dead in Weld County jail cell identified

August 7, 2017 - 2:57pm

A woman found dead in a Weld County jail cell has been identified.

Marie Elizabeth Shuler, 27, of Fort Lupton, was found by deputies Sunday, according to the medical examiner’s office.

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The cause and manner of her death will be determined after further investigation, the coroner’s office said Monday.

An autopsy report and laboratory studies should be completed in about 45 days.


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Don Baylor: A look back at an extraordinary baseball life

August 7, 2017 - 2:51pm

Don Baylor, who played in 2,292 major-league games and wore 14 different uniforms as a player, coach and manager, died Monday at age 68. Baylor was the first manager in Rockies history, guiding the team from 1993-98.

A look back at an extraordinary baseball life:

  • David Zalubowski, AP Photo

    Colorado Rockies manager Don Baylor, front right, waves to the crowd as the Rockies take their traditional walk around Denver's Coors Field to mark the end of the regular season on Sunday, Sept. 27, 1998. Baylor, who managed the National League expansion team from its inception in 1993, was fired at the close of the 1998 season and replaced by Jim Leyland. Broadcast and newspaper members of The Associated Press selected the story of Baylor's dismissal as one of the top sports stories of 1998 in Colorado.

  • Getty Historical Collection

    Colorado Rockies manager Don Baylor leads the team around the field after the final 1993 home game.

  • Brian Bahr, Allsport

    Left fielder Dante Bichette of the Colorado Rockies high fives manager Don Baylor during a game against the New York Mets at Coors Field in Denver, May 6, 1997. The Rockies won the game 12-11.

  • Todd Warshaw, Getty Images

    Manager Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies sits in the dugout during the Rockies 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres on June 19, 1997, at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, Calif.

  • Stephen Dunn, Allsport

    Coach Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies Surveys the field before a 3-2 loss against the San Diego Padres at the Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, Calif. June 22, 1995.

  • Getty Images

    Manager Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies looks on during the their interleague game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., June 14, 1997. The Rockies won 7-1.

  • Todd Warshaw, Allsport

    Manager Don Baylor #25 of the Colorado Rockies looks on during a game against the San Diego Padres at the Qualcomm Park in San Diego, Calif., July 5, 1998. The Padres defeated the Rockies 7-2.

  • Brian Bahr, Getty Images

    Manager Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies stands on the field during a spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers on March 5, 1998 at the Maryvale Baseball Park in Maryvale, Ariz. The Rockies defeated the Brewers 2-1.

  • Brian Bahr, Allsport

    Manager Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies talks with manager Buck Showalter of the Arizona Diamondbacks March 10, 1998, during a spring training game at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz. The Rockies won the game 6-5.

  • Brian Bahr, Allsport

    Manager Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies stands on the field during a spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at the Maryvale Baseball Park in Maryvale, Ariz. March 5, 1998. The Rockies defeated the Brewers 2-1.

  • Brian Bahr, Allsport

    Manager Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies (right) stands with his team prior to a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field in Denver on April 7, 1998. The Cardinals defeated the Rockies 12-10.

  • Brian Brainerd, The Denver Post

    Rockies manager Don Baylor walks off the field after the come-from-behind win against the Giants in the last game of the year for the 1998 team.

  • Andy Cross, The Denver Post

    Clint Hurdle, left, a trainer, and Rockies coach Don Baylor take a look at Mike Lansing after contact with the Cubs, Manny Alexander, or contact with the ground at second base in the 9th inning Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.

  • Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post

    Colorado Rockies workout at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009. Hitting coach Don Baylor talks with player Ian Stewart as the players warm up.

  • Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

    Coach Don Baylor #25 and manager Jim Tracy #4 of the Colorado Rockies watch the action against the San Diego Padres during MLB action at Coors Field on May 31, 2009 in Denver. The Padres defeated the Rockies 5-2.

  • Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

    Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies poses during photo day at the Rockies spring training complex on Feb. 22, 2009 in Tuscon, Arizona.

  • Karl Gehring, The Denver Post

    Colorado Rockies hitting instructor Don Baylor, left, talked with team president Keli S. McGregor prior to batting practice Friday afternoon. The Colorado Rockies hosted the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field Friday night, July 24, 2009.

  • Christian Petersen, Getty Images

    Coach Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies looks on during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 8, 2009 in Phoenix, Ariz. The Rockies defeated the Diamondbacks 9-2.

  • Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

    Batting coach Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies looks out from the dugout during their game against the San Francisco Giants during their game on July 25, 2009 at Coors Field in Denver.

  • Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

    Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy, right, holds the arm of batting coach Don Baylor in the first day of full squad practice of 2010 spring training in Tucson, Ariz.

  • Karl Gehring, The Denver Post

    Rockies hitting coach Don Baylor watched from the dugout as the Colorado Rockies hosted the San Diego Padres at Coors Field Friday night, July 9, 2010.

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  • Born June 28, 1949, in Austin, Texas, Baylor was a second-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 1967 out of S.F. Austin High School. He chose baseball over a chance to be the first black football player at Texas. Two years later, the Longhorns became the last all-white team to win a national championship.
  • Made his big-league debut with the Orioles on Sept. 18, 1970.
  • Baylor played for the Orioles, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, Twins and A’s in a 19-year career. He was mostly a designated hitter but also played outfield and first base.
  • Baylor won three Silver Slugger Awards and hit 338 career home runs.
  • His best season came in 1979 when he made the all-star team for the only time and was named American League MVP, leading the majors with 139 RBIs and 120 runs scored.
  • Batted .385 with a home run for Minnesota in its World Series victory over St. Louis in 1987.
  • Played in 38 postseason games, batting .273 with four home runs and 21 RBIs.
  • Hit .260 with 338 home runs and 1,276 RBIs in his career.
  • Was hit by 267 pitches in his career, an MLB record when he retired.
  • Played his last game on Oct. 1, 1988 as a member of the Oakland A’s.
  • Named the first manager in Rockies franchise history in 1993.
  • Led the Rockies for six seasons, compiling at 440-469 record.
  • Named National League manager of the year for leading the Rockies to the playoffs in 1995, the fastest an expansion franchise ever qualified for the postseason.
  • Managed the Cubs beginning in 2000 before he was fired in the middle of the 2002 season.
  • Returned to Colorado as a hitting coach in 2009. He also served as a hitting coach for the Cardinals, Braves, Mets, Diamondbacks and Angels.
  • Baylor died in his hometown of Austin on Monday after a 14-year battle with multiple myeloma.

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