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Marcus Stroman Lifts Team USA To First WBC Championship Over Puerto Rico

Congrats Stro!

Marcus Stroman is just one of six pitchers to take the mound in an MLB setting under 5'10" in the 21st century. The 5' 8" rising star made more history on the mound Wednesday night (March 22), leading Team USA to their first World Baseball Classic championship 8-0 over Puerto Rico. Stroman was brilliant in the final, bringing a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The Toronto Blue Jay took home MVP honors for the clincher.

It hasn't all been smooth sailing for the 25-year-old, who was roughed up earlier in the second round of the tournament by Puerto Rico, which made for a sweet revenge story for Stroman, whose mother is from Puerto Rico, as he's received backlash on social media for changing his mind in December, electing to play for the USA over PR.

After starting Team USA's second round 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico, Adlin Auffant (Stroman's mother) tweeted about the vulgar messages she received from Puerto Rico fans regarding her son's uniform choice. Stro showered his mother with love and support on Twitter.

The Duke University graduate responded to his critics after the 2-1 semi-final win over Japan Tuesday (March 21) telling Fox Sports, "I know a lot of people have been saying bad things to her, going through the process, on social media. That’s my mother. I stand by her always. She supports me through everything. I don’t respect some of the comments that were made toward my mother."

You couldn't script a better storybook ending for the Medford, NY native, who affirmed his decision to suit up for the United States of Puerto Rico by leading them to their first ever WBC title. Congrats Stro!

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Rapper Jay-Z attends the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 19, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
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NFL Network Insider Claims Jay-Z "Had Some Influence" With Colin Kaepernick's Workout

In August, Jay-Z and his Roc Nation imprint inked a partnership with the National Football League (NFL) that pins social justice at the top of its list of priorities. The deal received backlash from those opposed to the NFL's controversial practices and treatment of Colin Kaepernick, but according to a league insider, Jay-Z might've played a role in the quarterback's potential to re-enter the sport.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Jay-Z "had some influence" concerning Kaepernick's invitation to a private workout with NFL clubs. The news was made public on Tuesday (Nov. 12), but immediately stirred up rumors of it being a PR stunt. "I am also told that Jay-Z, who has been working with the NFL on some social justice initiatives, was involved in this and pushed this idea to some extent," Rapoport said.

Two notes: 1. Jay-Z, a partner with the NFL on social justice, had some influence here. 2. This is not part of Kaepernick’s settlement, nor did he ask for this in his settlement. https://t.co/6l7z3MYJ5x

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 13, 2019

Rapoport isn't the only sports news professional to mention Jay-Z's name in the same sentence as Kaepernick's. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith believes the billionaire mogul played a role in the invitation.

"Clearly there appears to be a collective effort that has taken place to include these teams with league participation and league approval, obviously, so it appears to be something very, very serious and the only thing that can get in the way of Colin Kaepernick being back in the NFL is if he refuses to shut up and/or he goes out there and shows that he can't play," Smith said.

Following his partnership announcement, Jay-Z stated that it's time to make tangible moves to revamp the league's social justice initiatives. "I think we're past kneeling," he said. "I think it's time for action." As a means of protesting, Kaepernick would kneel during the national anthem to bring awareness to police brutality and other injustices that affect minorities.

The workout will take place on Saturday (Nov. 16) where representatives from various NFL teams will assess if Kaepernick is ready to take the field again. This will mark the first time Kaepernick will be able to showcase his skills since being out of the league for three years.

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Former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick watches a Women's Singles second round match between Naomi Osaka of Japan and Magda Linette of Poland on day four of the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2019 in Queens borough of New York City.
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Colin Kaepernick To Suit Up For Workout Invite From NFL

Since 2016, Colin Kaepernick has remained on his toes despite opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers. The decision followed a season where he kneeled during the national anthem as a means of protesting police brutality and social and economic injustice.

While keeping in shape for the day an NFL team adds him to a roster, the 32-year-old pro-athlete has shared videos of him training so that he's good to go once that day arrives. Now, it looks like he'll be able to, per his recent tweet. On Saturday (Nov. 16), Kaepernick will attend a private workout with NFL teams in Atlanta. According to ESPN, the details of the workout will include on-field drills, an interview, and other methods to determine Kaepernick's preparedness to return to the league.

"I'm just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday," Kaepernick shared with his 2.2 million Twitter followers. "I've been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can't wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday."

I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.

— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) November 13, 2019

On Oct. 10, Kaepernick's legal team released a fact sheet to clear the air on his situation. Questions like offers from NFL teams, why he declined re-signing with the 49ers, and if him filing a grievance hindered his standing with the multi-billion dollar league. Per ESPN, the league later outlined in a memo its reason for hosting a workout after conversations with the quarterback's team.

"Earlier this year, we discussed some possible steps with his representatives and they recently emphasized his level of preparation and that he is ready to work out for clubs and be interviewed by them. We have therefore arranged this opportunity for him to work out, and for all clubs to have the opportunity to evaluate his current readiness and level of interest in resuming his NFL career."

Colin Kaepernick’s representatives released statements today to clear up some facts surrounding their client: pic.twitter.com/Wo86KTkKDM

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 10, 2019

5am. 5 days a week. For 3 years. Still Ready. pic.twitter.com/AGczejA1rM

— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) August 7, 2019

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Cam Newton Launches Limited Edition Travel Bag With VINTA Supply Co.

Former NFL MVP Cam Newton has a reputation as one of the most fashion-forward athletes in the world. And now, he's placing his stamp on a new travel accessory.

In early 2019, Newton joined forces with the startup premium accessories company Vinta as a creative partner, and the two have launched Newton's first premium backpack, the TYPE-II C1N, available for pre-order at vinta.co. The bag, according to a press release, is "specifically created for style-conscious travelers and busy city living."

“I’m excited to be working with Vinta and putting my first bag out into the world. It’s called the TYPE-II C1N, and it’s designed for a person like me, with a constant schedule, who doesn’t stop and wants a fashionable, high-quality bag that’s functional for everyday life,” Newton said in a statement. “It’s customizable, stylish, and every feature has been so well thought out and designed. That’s what Vinta embodies: travel made easy. I know they’ve done it for me, and I know they’re going to do it for everyone who buys one.”

The TYPE-II C1N comes in two colors – sand and berry – and is made of a weatherproof coated twill exterior, with features such as a modular leather field pack and dopp kit, space for a 15” laptop, an elevated satin interior, internal mesh pockets, and flat lay panels.

This isn't Newton's first foray into fashion and accessories. Along with turning heads with his outrageous outfits at game days and press conferences, earlier in his career, he launched a menswear line with the Southern department store Belk.

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