Royals, Hamilton finalize $5.25M contract
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Wednesday, December 12
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals and speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton finalized a $5.25 million contract Tuesday that includes up to $1 million in performance bonuses and a mutual option for 2020.
The Royals hope that spacious Kauffman Stadium will allow Hamilton to better use his speed than the bandbox of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, where he spent his first six seasons with the Reds.
“Speed, athleticism, defensive ability. He brings a sense of trepidation when he steps on the field, not only as a defender but as an offensive player, too,” manager Ned Yost said at the winter meetings in Las Vegas. “I’ve talked to a lot of Cincinnati people about him and they absolutely loved him. But we’ve been spoiled for years with Lorenzo Cain in center field, a tremendous defender in a big ballpark and having Billy roaming that ground from gap to gap out there.”
Hamilton’s deal, announced Tuesday, calls for a $4.25 million salary next year and a $7.5 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout He can earn $100,000 each for making 325 plate appearances and every additional 25 through 550.
The 28-year-old made his big league debut in 2013, then proceeded to have four consecutive seasons in which he stole at least 50 bases. That number dipped to 34 last season, when the switch-hitting Hamilton hit .236 with four homers and 29 RBIs as the Reds’ everyday center fielder.
Hamilton’s addition gives Yost more ability to move players around with a deep and versatile outfield.
“We’ll have a lot of opportunities to kind of mix and match and see what fits and what’s beneficial for us as a team,” he said.
The Reds ultimately did not tender Hamilton a contract after paying him $4.6 million in the second year of arbitration. The Royals now control him through the 2019 season and Kansas City now has three of the top eight base-stealers in the majors last season.
The Royals were poised to head to spring training with Brett Phillips and Brian Goodwin competing for the centerfield job, and both of them will still have that opportunity with Hamilton in the mix.
Phillips was acquired last season in the trade that sent third baseman Mike Moustakas to Milwaukee for the stretch run. Much like Hamilton, the 24-year-old Phillips is an elite defensive player, but he has yet to prove much at the plate. He hit just .188 in 36 games after arriving in Kansas City. The 28-year-old Goodwin is more accomplished offensively, hitting .266 in 27 games after the Royals acquired him in a trade with Washington.
The Royals are in the midst of a massive rebuilding project after going to back-to-back World Series and winning the championship in 2015. It appears part of that rebuild involves returning to the speed-and-defense style that first allowed the long-suffering organization to return to respectability.
Second baseman Whit Merrifield led the majors with 45 steals last season, while shortstop Adalberto Mondesi was eighth with 32 steals, despite getting time in the minors and only 275 big league at-bats.
“Whit is going to play wherever. Most days he’ll probably play second, yeah, but to have the ability to move Whit all over the place is great,” Yost said. “Just like Chris (Owings), we can move him wherever we want to move him and feel good about it. I feel every bit as good as putting Whit in center, in right, at first, as I do at second base.”
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Wade, James embrace final chance to compete on court
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, December 11
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dwyane Wade will be spending a lot of time in Los Angeles while he settles into retirement next year. He already has a house here, and his wife’s acting career would undoubtedly benefit from more time in Hollywood.
LeBron James is a newly minted Southern Californian himself, and he’s already hatching schemes to occupy his former teammate, longtime rival and permanent friend.
“I told him, ‘No one likes to work out by themselves,’” James said with a grin. “So he can come to Staples. He can come to the practice facility anytime he wants to get workouts in. He can come help me with the young guys as well. He’ll be around a lot more personally for me, so I’ll love that.”
Wade still has 56 regular-season games left in his self-declared final NBA season with the Miami Heat, but he passed a major milestone in that procession when he lined up against James for the final time Monday night in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 108-105 victory.
The result wasn’t the most important part of the night to either man. They were wrapped up in the pure thrill — in the chance to face off for the final time in two incredible basketball careers that have been chronologically parallel, frequently intersecting and always momentous.
“I knew that at some point in the game, it was going to hit me that this was the last time we were competing against each other,” Wade said. “It hit me right away, once that buzzer sounded and we got the opportunity on the court to just look at each other and be like, ‘Man, this has been fun. This has been one hell of a ride, and we’ve enjoyed it together.’”
James put up 28 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. Wade scored all 15 of his points in the second half to go with 10 assists and five boards.
But the best moments arrived late when James and Wade finally guarded each other, playing one last one-on-one game for keeps.
Defense won out on both ends, probably because they know each other well enough to take away their strengths. They funneled each other to drive to their more uncomfortable sides, and James forced Wade to attempt a 27-foot turnaround, fadeaway 3-pointer that missed badly with 7.2 seconds left.
Wade was more open when he missed a 3 that would have put the Heat ahead with 22.5 seconds left.
“I needed that one,” Wade said with a grimace. “I wanted it so bad. I think I wanted it too much. It would have definitely been memorable. But this is my last time playing against this guy, you know? This is the holy grail in the NBA. Unless we figure this thing out and we go to the Finals, this is the holy grail for me. The competition of playing against the game’s greatest player. Playing it in LA. I thanked him for bringing us to this stage for our last hurrah on this stage. It gets no better than this.”
Barring a change of Wade’s retirement plans or that incredibly unlikely NBA Finals matchup, they’ll never face each other in a real game — and the Lakers’ victory put James ahead of Wade 16-15 in their head-to-head matchups over their career.
James marveled at the symmetry in this final showdown, but both players said their times together meant a whole lot more than their times in opposing uniforms.
James and Wade won two NBA championships and four straight Eastern Conference titles together in Miami, along with their Olympic gold medals from Beijing.
“The game is going to take care of itself, but just the fact that we were on the floor doing what we love to do, that’s what’s more important,” James said. “Wins and losses are going to happen throughout the course of the season and throughout the course of your career, but those moments right there, you can’t ever get back.”
James and Wade swapped jerseys after the final buzzer, their bittersweet emotions overshadowed by the excitement of the moment and the possibilities of the future.
“It’s the end of a storybook,” James said. “One of the best movies you could ever see. It’s too hard to put into words. Thank God they’re staying the night. We get to have dinner (later). I know he has more games, but that’s the last one for us.”
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Hello, Delly: Dellavedova returns to Cavs in 3-team trade
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Saturday, December 8
CLEVELAND (AP) — Matthew Dellavedova is coming back to the Cavaliers. He won’t recognize them.
Cleveland re-acquired the popular, scrappy guard on Friday in a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards.
The Cavaliers also received forward John Henson and 2021 first- and second-round picks from Milwaukee, and a 2022 second-rounder from Washington. The Cavs sent guard George Hill and a 2021 second-round selection to the Bucks, and forward Sam Dekker to the Wizards. Milwaukee also got forward Jason Smith from Washington.
Affectionately known to Cleveland fans as “Delly,” Dellavedova was a key member of the Cavs’ 2016 title team before he signed with the Bucks later that summer. He’s not the same player, and the Cavs are far from being the same team, but his return will soften what has been a difficult season.
Cleveland is just 5-20 and rebuilding in the wake of LeBron James’ departure last summer.
“I’m glad my Aussie brother is back,” Cavs center Tristan Thompson said following a 129-110 loss to Sacramento. “Brings us veteran leadership, a guy that’s won before, a guy that’s going to push Collin (Sexton), control the game for the second unit and he’ll make shots. He’s good at throwing lobs to me, so I’m really happy about that.
“I think it will be good for our team, not just for myself, but for our team.”
Hill helped the Cavs reach the Finals last season, but the team wanted to unload his contract while giving rookie Sexton more playing time.
Sexton has already heard stories about Dellavedova.
“Everybody said he’s a real good guy, a real good locker-room guy,” he said. “We lost George, which was my vet, so I’ll have to talk to Dellavedova and he’ll be able to lead me how George led me. They say he practices hard too, so we’re going to have some battles.”
The Bucks are getting a 46-percent shooter from 3-point range in Hill, who fits into their new long-range shooting philosophy under first-year coach Mike Budenholzer, plus a backup to starter Eric Bledsoe. They also could potentially save roughly $16 million in salary, assuming they waive Hill after this season.
“We’re excited to welcome George and Jason to the Bucks organization,” GM Jon Horst said. “George provides us added depth and experience at the guard position, while Jason gives us another front-court player who can stretch the floor.”
There was an urgency to get the deal agreed to before 6 p.m. on Friday because only players on rosters by then can be re-packaged in other trades before February’s deadline.
Hill’s days were numbered in Cleveland. The Cavs are re-shaping their roster with an eye on landing a major free agent in 2020, and Hill was no longer part of the long-term plans because of his age and the team’s commitment to Sexton’s development.
Hill recently returned after missing 11 games with a shoulder injury, a setback that only delayed the Cavs in pulling off a deal to add more assets. Cleveland recently traded sharpshooter Kyle Korver to Utah for two picks in 2020 and 2021.
The 28-year-old Dellavedova will get a chance restart his career with the Cavs. The Australian had been buried on Milwaukee’s bench and is averaging just 1.7 points and 2.4 assists in 12 games.
Henson recently underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. He’s averaging 5.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 14 games.
Dekker was in his first season with the Cavs, who got him in an August trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds but missed significant time with a severely sprained left ankle.
“This trade allows us to continue to work to improve our team and gives us a young, developing player in Sam whose versatility and athleticism at the forward position will allow him to earn an opportunity to contribute,” said Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld. “We wish Jason the best moving forward and appreciate the value he brought to our team as a great teammate and true professional.”
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Union Terminal to open museum center studying Holocaust
By CAROL MOTSINGER
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Sunday, December 9
CINCINNATI (AP) — Her parents never spoke about it. And Lilly Kurtz’s only memory from that time?
It’s of her mother spreading garlic on bread.
She was a toddler then and she ate that bread as she traveled on a boat from war-ravaged Germany, the horrors of the Holocaust that had just taken the lives of most of the people who shared her last name.
She doesn’t remember the train that later took her to Cincinnati, the city that’s been her home ever since. She doesn’t remember walking through the rotunda at Union Terminal with her parents, the first steps of their new life here.
But as an adult, Kurtz learned her own history as the child of Holocaust survivors. She knows that others must remember her story — and others like it.
That’s why she’s been involved in the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center. That’s why she spoke during a tour of the center’s new space in Union Terminal.
The museum space is set to open Jan. 27.
In 2000, several hundred Holocaust survivors who relocated here founded the center as a support group. But it evolved to focus on education.
The center’s next chapter will feature new exhibits, as well as archival space for artifacts and library space.
Sarah Weiss, executive director, led us through the in-construction space Monday morning.
Here were our big takeaways:
According to Weiss, the Holocaust and humanity center is the only one of its kind in the United States that has what they are calling an “authentic connection to its physical site.”
So, what does that mean exactly? For many Holocaust survivors who resettled here, Union Terminal was their first impression of their new hometown.
That historical significance inspired Weiss.
One of the gallery spaces features windows that look directly out at the train tracks. (It’s still an active yard.)
She decided to create a train car installation that will examine what it was like to board a train to an unknown destination. For millions, trains took them to their deaths at concentration camps. A small window in the installation will frame the train tracks outside.
You’ll be greeted by World War II soldiers and Holocaust survivors sculptures in the Union Terminal rotunda.
These pieces will also start the conversation. The installation will include documents from the center, as well as the history collection at the Cincinnati Museum Center. These photographs, forms and other records will be a part of the sculptures and will also be on the stairs down to the center on the mezzanine and lower levels of the former train station.
You’ll notice another striking installation at the bottom of those stairs. They’ve reinstalled one of the Winold Reiss mosaic murals that was once a part of the Union Terminal concourse. It’s of a passenger train.
The lobby, however, is defined by new artwork.
Officials commissioned work from local artist Keith Neltner. His dynamic mural features 25 vignettes of local survivor stories. Each story is a snapshot told in graphic novel style.
Neltner’s detailed, emotional work sets the tone for the rest of the 7,500 square feet of exhibitions. You’ll get to see and listen to some of the survivors featured in Neltner’s illustration in a video in the first theater.
Survivors tell their stories, in their own words, throughout the exhibit, actually. One wall features quotes from these Cincinnatians.
And we will get to see the record of the lives through photographs. One section focuses on the diversity of Jewish life in Europe prior to the war. That will look like framed photographs of weddings and other family gatherings, milestones like school, too.
Many of the exhibits are interactive.
For example, you will be able to look through a wall built to look like the Warsaw ghetto. Videos will show what life was like here and in other brutal ghettos where Nazis confined and segregated Jewish communities.
In the final section of the center, multimedia kiosks will highlight different social issues, ideas and champions that the overall experiences addresses, from finding home to civil rights to responding to genocide.
“We’re learning, we’re engaging and we are also reflecting in what we can do today and we can do tomorrow,” Weiss said.
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com
Green Gift Guide: Books
If you are looking to enlighten, educate or entertain someone on your gift list this holiday season, consider giving them a book or two on environmental topics. Here are some of our favorite recent titles…
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative
For centuries, poets and philosophers extolled the benefits of a walk in the woods: Beethoven drew inspiration from rocks and trees; Wordsworth composed while tromping over the heath; and Nikola Tesla conceived the electric motor while visiting a park. Intrigued by our storied renewal in the natural world, Florence Williams set out to uncover the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain.
The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World – and Us
A major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work, revealing how mating preferences—what Darwin termed “the taste for the beautiful”—create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world. Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum details example after example of display traits that seem disconnected from, if not outright contrary to, selection for individual survival. To explain this, he dusts off Darwin’s long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons—for the mere pleasure of it—is an independent engine of evolutionary change.
The Biological Mind: How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are
To many, the brain is the seat of personal identity and autonomy. But the way we talk about the brain is often rooted more in mystical conceptions of the soul than in scientific fact. This blinds us to the physical realities of mental function. We ignore bodily influences on our psychology, from chemicals in the blood to bacteria in the gut, and overlook the ways that the environment affects our behavior, via factors varying from subconscious sights and sounds to the weather. As a result, we alternately overestimate our capacity for free will or equate brains to inorganic machines like computers. But a brain is neither a soul nor an electrical network: it is a bodily organ, and it cannot be separated from its surroundings. Our selves aren’t just inside our heads–they’re spread throughout our bodies and beyond. Only once we come to terms with this can we grasp the true nature of our humanity.
Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet
Solar energy, once a niche application for a limited market, has become the cheapest and fastest-growing power source on earth. What’s more, its potential is nearly limitless―every hour the sun beams down more energy than the world uses in a year. But in Taming the Sun, energy expert Varun Sivaram warns that the world is not yet equipped to harness erratic sunshine to meet most of its energy needs. And if solar’s current surge peters out, prospects for replacing fossil fuels and averting catastrophic climate change will dim. Innovation can brighten those prospects, Sivaram explains, drawing on firsthand experience and original research spanning science, business, and government.
The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet
Rigorously reported and winningly told, The Omega Principle is a powerful argument for a more deliberate and forward-thinking relationship to the food we eat and the oceans that sustain us. James Beard Award-winning author Paul Greenberg takes a closer look at the omega-3 sensation and assesses how the story of these tine molecules tells us a lot about the push-and-pull of science and business, the fate of our oceans in a human-dominated age, the explosion of land food at the expense of healthier and more sustainable seafood, and the human quest for health and long life at all costs.
The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity
As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascinating insight into AI, robotics, and their extraordinary implications for our species. Author Byron Reese provides extraordinary background information on how we got to this point, and how—rather than what—we should think about the topics we’ll soon all be facing: machine consciousness, automation, employment, creative computers, radical life extension, artificial life, AI ethics, the future of warfare, superintelligence, and the implications of extreme prosperity.