Laura-Valentine helps abandoned children find opportunities through adoption into loving, Christian families.

This Month’s Featured Family


Take Action, Help us Raise Funds

To date, Laura-Valentine has raised tens of thousands of dollars, making possible adoptions for many children. You can participate in this valuable mission through the purchase of LV music and products, by donating, or by contacting us to have Laura-Valentine perform or speak at your upcoming event.

Norv Turner wants to ‘eliminate the peaks and valleys’ in Cam Newton’s game

Cam Newton is one of the most physically gifted athletes to ever play quarterback. He’s also one of the most inconsistent.

Newton has stretches throughout a season where he goes hot and cold. One game he throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns, the next he’s a turnover machine with a below-average passer rating.

As defenders, when a guy comes up and hits a ground ball to short [to beat the shift], we still go to the same place the next time. It doesn’t change anything. You look at the guys they shift on, and they’re paid to drive the ball. People aren’t doing it against Billy Hamilton and guys like that.

I think it gets blown out of proportion when people say, ‘Just hit a ground ball to short.’ You can’t just take a 98 mph cutting fastball in on your hands and do that. Let’s just say I sell out tonight, and I try it four times. The likelihood of me hitting four straight ground balls to short and ending up 4-for-4 are very slim. If I succeed once or maybe twice, at best I’m going to go 2-for-4 with two singles, where if I just play the game, I might go 2-for-4 with a homer and a double.

The owners are now not even being subtle about using what began as Kaepernick’s solo protest as its signal to wrestle their enemies, the players, into submission. To put them in their place and keep them in their lane. To remind them who tells who when they can and cannot stand, sit and kneel. To tell the audience that it caters to some of them and could not care less about others.

That they can spend 23 months railing against politics getting mixed up in their sport, only to dive into politics feet first whenever they please and dare the targets of their lectures to do something about it, shouldn’t surprise anyone by now.

Don’t mix your politics into our sport. Because it isn’t your sport. Here’s a real, live NFL owner and his letter to the Senate to remind you.

When you look at where we’re headed in baseball, the one alarming thing is the number of balls that are put in play. It’s hard now — period. Everyone is throwing 95 mph-plus with movement. Every bullpen has guys out there doing that. So just putting the ball in play and not striking out is a challenge in itself. If you already have all these disadvantages against the hitting side of the game, I wouldn’t be opposed to getting back to playing the game the way it was always played, where you have two guys on the left side of the infield and two guys on the right side of the infield.

The Magic are in a similar position to the Clippers but with fewer expiring contracts.

How much Orlando values its cap flexibility in 2019 could determine the futures of Nikola Vucevic ($12.75 million) and Terrence Ross ($10.5 million). Despite the Magic having the potential for $30 million in space next summer, they can do their free-agent shopping one year early and turn both contracts into something of value even if it does reduce spending in 2019.

Vucevic has appeal not only because his salary ranks outside of the top 20 among starting centers but because of his consistency since his arrival in Orlando. Still, the addition of Mohamed Bamba signaled that the Magic are focused more on the future.

What is the value of veterans on expiring contracts? That is the question Phoenix has to answer regarding Tyson Chandler ($13.5 million) and Jared Dudley ($9.5 million).

Yet losing Tavares rips the heart out of the current lineup, and it was a lineup fraught with problems to begin, from the crease out.

Their focus, their future … it’s all reshaped and shifted. Perhaps that’ll be liberating, what with the cap space they’ll have to play with. But the path to contention was much clearer with Tavares leading the charge.

The Sharks were runners-up for Tavares but won the shade-throwing competition, as GM Doug Wilson expressed disappointment in his decision but thanked his own players for having continually chosen to bypass a chance at unrestricted free agency in recent years because they want to play in San Jose. Hey, enjoy Canada, John. We’re good …

The Sharks now turn their attention to the Joes: Pavelski, their 34-year-old star who has one year left on this contract; and Thornton, a free agent whom they hope will return for another season despite some wonky health.

the Broncos elect not to trade Tim Tebow without a veteran like Manning at the helm.

Instead, they sign Jason Campbell, one of the only other veteran quarterbacks on the market, to add competition. They also pass on drafting a quarterback. Campbell doesn’t play well enough to wrestle the job away from the fan favorite, and Tebow gets the starting job again in 2012.

In an AFC West that doesn’t feature another team with a winning record, the Broncos sneak into the playoffs again, but there’s no Pittsburgh Steelers miracle this time. Instead, Denver is punted from the postseason in the Wild Card round with another playoff blowout.

The bill in the New York State Assembly makes compromises on the subject. It says sportsbooks can use whichever data sources they want to determine the outcome of straight-up bets on winners and losers. But for in-game betting on specific events, the New York bill requires the books to buy the data from the leagues. Some states are likely to settle all the way on one side or the other, pleasing either the leagues or the gaming industry.

The leagues need to conduct an assessment — I’m sure they already have — of what assets do they have that are very part and parcel to a sports gambling business that they can use as negotiating chips to extract things such as an integrity fee, access to bettor data directly rather than through some commission, things like that, Etna says.

If Romo had signed with the Texans, it’s certainly possible they wouldn’t have wanted to give up so much draft capital to trade up to get Watson. But let’s look at why the 2017 national championship hero still would’ve been worth parting with a future first-round pick:

Romo would have been 36 going on 37, like an older, less mellifluous Liesl von Trapp. His latest injury was a broken bone in his back, less than three years after he underwent surgery for a herniated disk. He hadn’t been healthy for a full season since 2012 and had only played in five games in the previous two seasons.

Hey man, you get him between the lines, get the ball in your hand, I don’t give a damn what anybody says. It’s time to work. So no, I don’t think we’ll be able to hit him too hard, but I’m going to hit his ass.

He’s a good dude. Obviously, I’ve played in a 3-4 before under [New York Jets Head] Coach [Todd] Bowles, and Coach Bettcher and Bowles worked together, so I have a lot of familiarity with the system. It’s just all about reaching in that memory bank. Everything I was told to forget, I’ve got to remember again.

Obviously, in some sets, it will be different, but it’s no different for the guys in the interior. It’s more so for the outside linebackers. Outside linebackers who are still defensive ends. So, yeah, I think people just think about it too much, they put too much into it. There’s really no difference at all.

Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski offer winners and losers of the 2018 NHL free agent frenzy. Video by Greg Wyshynski

The opening day of 2018 NHL free agency included a seismic shift in the league’s balance of power, with John Tavares signing a seven-year, $77 million deal with the ascendant Toronto Maple Leafs.

But the Leafs weren’t the only winners, and the teams that lost out on Tavares aren’t the only losers. Here’s our rundown of both sides of the ledger after the opening hours of the free-agent frenzy:

Lou Lamoriello is a stabilizer. He arrived in Toronto when they needed a veteran executive in the general manager’s role, and left three years later with the Leafs as a rising Stanley Cup contender. There’s no better validation of that status than the Maple Leafs being good enough to attract the premiere unrestricted free agent available.

He wanted the opportunity bad, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. I asked him and pushed him to make sure that this is something that he was going to fight for and he did.

Washington jumped out early, scoring an unearned run in the fourth on an Anthony Rendon sacrifice fly. In the fifth, the lead expanded to 3-0 when Adam Eaton singled to right to score Daniel Murphy and Mark Reynolds.

However, Gio Gonzalez labored in the bottom of the fifth after cruising through the first four innings with only one hit and one walk allowed. He walked three guys in the fifth inning, including Cesar Hernandez with the bases loaded, that put Philadelphia on the board. Rhys Hoskins’ sacrifice fly to right made it 3-2 then Odubel Herrera singled to score Carlos Santana to tie the game.

Some teams will worry that such deals would compromise future cap space. The Knicks, with big free-agency dreams in 2019 and 2020, seem like such a team. But the league will be (relatively) flush with cap space again in 2019 as more deals from the mega-summer of 2016 vanish. It will never be like 2016 again for players, especially as more of them flood next summer’s market, but 2019 and 2020 will be loads better than this summer.

J.T. Realmuto rips a double into left field, which pads Miami’s lead against New York.

The Marlins overtook the Mets on the scoreboard and in the standings Saturday.

And for the second game in a row, Miami beat New York with a rookie pitcher making his first major league start.

I’m not throwing as hard as I used to. If I were to throw over the top, I’d still throw a little harder than I am right now. (But) at the end of the day, I’m feeling really good with my delivery right now, my mechanics. It’s been a lot of fun making these adjustments.

Jackson headed to Memphis with a velvety look.

The Kings have not had a winning season since 2005-06, and have won fewer than 30 games in eight of their last 10 seasons.

Some NBA scouts worried Bagley had limited upside in the NBA compared to other top prospects, but his production in high school and college was too strong for Sacramento to ignore.

The Hawks selected Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, but he will never play a game in an Atlanta uniform.

The Hawks picked Doncic and then traded him to the Mavericks, the NBA announced Thursday. Dallas drafted Oklahoma guard Trae Young at No. 5 and sent him to Atlanta, along with a future first rounder.

Why the Falcons expect to be top-5 defense in 2018

The Falcons’ defense may be one of the most promising units in the NFL. With young, promising starters at every level of the defense surrounded by experience veterans in the prime of their careers, the Falcons have an advantageous blend of talent, knowledge and upside.

I just feel their intent, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said after Tuesday’s OTAs. I knew it right when we came back; I could see their intent to go for it. I saw it with Vic [Beasley]; I saw it with Grady; I certainly saw it with De’Vondre, [Deion Jones] and Keanu, amongst others. Their ability to now lead I think is getting pretty powerful. We’ve had this spring different presentations they present to the group, now that they know some of the issues.

I’m very encouraged by that group and the way that they can grow together – their toughness, their attitude for competing, how close they are. Yeah, it’s really cool to see.

Still, Jason McIntyre of USA Today’s The Big lead was able to find 10 backs who checked all of the aforementioned boxes and ranked them. And as McIntyre notes in this piece, all 10 are almost all under the age of 25. That latter nugget isn’t so surprising, though. The NFL is a young man’s game; it’s definitely not a world where older running backs flourish, either.

One back who is flourishing would be Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. Atlanta’s fifth-year running back had a bit of a down year in 2017, rushing for 865 yards on 196 carries and seven touchdowns. Freeman also caught 36 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown. The year before, Freeman tallied a career-best 1,079 yards on 227 attempts for 11 touchdowns. And in the passing game, Freeman caught 54 balls for 462 yards and a pair of scores.

Courtney Conlogue: ‘Being a strong woman is a good thing’

Becoming the world’s top-ranked surfer is no day at the beach. Courtney Conlogue talks to Body Issue reporter Morty Ain about burning calories, breathing underwater and learning to love her body.

I think about it in the National Football League, why guys don’t play two positions? I figure if J.J. Watt played quarterback if he was able to throw the ball like Ben Roethlisberger, which I’ve seen him do and then if he were able to go over and play defense full time, you’d have to pay J.J. Watt $220 million.

I’ve been a geek my whole life. I had glasses, I had a ducktail, my mom would dress me funny. I was smart, I was good at video games, I read books, I watched the Discovery Channel. I was good at sports, but I was a geek. When everybody said something, I always questioned I’d question it and do research on what they were saying. I liked to know facts. As I grew older, that’s what set me apart from everybody else.

After the NFL recently passed a rule that requires players to stand for the anthem or, if they choose, stay in the locker room or face fines and other potential ramifications, Vernon says that he hasn’t finalized how he’ll handle pre-game this season, but admits that the rule has already impacted his thinking.

I’m not trying to get fined, so, no, Vernon said, when asked at Landon Collins’ Charity Softball Game, if he plans to kneel this season.

Despite the fact that he won’t kneel, Vernon says that he still hasn’t decided whether he will remain in the locker room and that he’s disappointed that the league instituted the rule in the first place.

You never want to be told what to do really, Vernon said. Especially when it comes to your freedom of speech. But, it is what it is. We haven’t really gotten too in depth into the rule.

There remains plenty of ambiguity across the NFL in terms of the rule, including Jets chairman Christopher Johnson saying that he will pay the fines of any Jets players who opt to kneel and run afoul of the league.

Julio Jones Rumors: Terrell Owens Workouts Worry Team, Relationship in Bad Place

The relationship between Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons is reportedly not in a good place heading into training camp next month.

Appearing on ESPN 730AM The Game, Falcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter was asked how things stand between Jones and the Falcons during their most recent contract talks. 

It’s in a bad place right now, Ledbetter said, via Cory Woodroof of the Falcoholic. Coach [Dan Quinn] was expecting him in here. He told us that at the owners meeting when I talked to him down there in Orlando, and then, a few weeks later, Julio informed that he’s not going to be here.

Jones’ average annual salary of $14.25 million ranks eighth among all wide receivers, per Over the Cap. He signed a five-year deal worth up to $71.5 million in August 2015.

Quinn and Patricia speak in shorthand, and they’re always together. Four days after the Lions announced Patricia’s hiring, they announced a contract extension for Quinn that matches the length of Patricia’s contract. They are tied at the hip as the franchise enters another important era: quarterback Matthew Stafford’s 30s.

Cooter told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he expects both the Lions offense and his play-calling to improve considerably in 2018.

I plan on improving personally every year. I’ve learned at this point not to think that I have all the answers or even most of the answers. I’m getting better every year. Every year I figure out something that I go, ‘Man, a year ago I didn’t see it that way and now I do.’ I think I understand it better. But this is a complex league. You got to stay fluid.

If that happens, Cooter is going to be a red-hot commodity. Young, offensive-minded head coaches are highly coveted in the NFL after what Sean McVay accomplished with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017.

David Fales may have the inside track to No. 2 job in Miami

A mild burst of optimism regarding a Brock Osweiler rebirth has faded to the reality that Osweiler may not be the No. 2 quarterback in Miami, after all. For now, it appears that journeyman David Fales has the edge.

Via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Fales looked like the best of three backup contenders during offseason practices open to the media. At least one player seems to agree.

His deep ball has been remarkable this offseason, between him and [receiver] Jakeem [Grant] and [tight end Mike] Gesicki, tight end MarQueis Gray said of Fales, per Jackson. They’ve been hooking up a lot.

Right now I don’t even want to go in that direction yet because I don’t have a great answer for it, Gase said. I want to see guys play in preseason games. I want to see kind of how training camp goes. That’s a lot of time there and there’s a lot of football to be played. I want those guys all competing. I’m hoping those guys all have the same mentality that they’re the guy to beat.

Regardless of what happens, Gase still doesn’t plan to bring back Jay Cutler or otherwise add a veteran. It will be Tannehill and some combination of Fales, Osweiler, and/or Petty come Week One.

After Denver opted to sign Case Keenum instead of drafting another quarterback, Lynch received new life with the Broncos. But it’s the life of a backup — again. Lynch said Thursday he’s OK with that for now.

I was really excited, actually, when we got Case for the fact he’s a veteran guy who’s been through it a little bit and had his ups and downs, Lynch said. The way he carries himself and handles himself — he’s a pro and that only benefits me and the other guys in the locker room and the other guys in the quarterback room.

We’ll have to wait and see if those benefits pay off for Lynch and the Broncos in the long run. For now, it’s Keenum’s team and a threat doesn’t exist behind him.

While Barkley says he’s counting his blessing that he won’t have to line up against Harrison, Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher is thrilled that he doesn’t have to game-plan against Barkley.

Astros finish perfect 10-game road trip with 11th straight win

It doesn’t look like the Astros are experiencing a World Series hangover at all.

Houston defeated the Royals 7-4 Sunday, extending their win streak to 11 games. Even more impressive, 10 of those games came on the road.

According to ESPN, it’s only the sixth time in 65 seasons that a team has completed a perfect road trip of 10 or more games. The 11-game win streak is also tied for the fifth-longest win streak by a defending World Series champion team in 80 years.

One [player] was trying to play an iron on a par-3 and someone yelled, ‘J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets,’ right in his backswing, Darnold said. He knew I was there, that’s why he was yelling, and it just so happened to be right in the guy’s backswing by accident. It was just a funny fan moment.

But the laser focus of [the player], who still hit a really good shot, was cool to see. It’s just really cool to see these guys do what they do — even with all the hecklers and everything that’s going on, they’re able to focus on what they need to do.

Bellinger, who had 39 home runs and 97 RBIs last season, struggled in the postseason, striking out 29 times in 64 at-bats. The 22-year-old has struggled with low and inside pitches, leading to 58 strikeouts in 212 at-bats so far in 2018.

Roberts also pulled Bellinger from a game earlier this season for a perceived lack of hustle. If he’s unable to turn things around soon, Roberts may be forced to send Bellinger down to the minors to get his timing right.

Both players seemed excited to be on the field, with Brady yelling at himself after failing to connect on a pass, and Gronkowski letting out several gleeful yelps following catches.

That doesn’t mean is right in Gronk’s world. After leading the team last season in receptions (69), receiving yards (1,084) and receiving touchdowns (eight), he clearly wants to see his value reflected in his contract.