With the Mariners at 79-64, postseason baseball is on the minds of most Seattle fans. On Monday, the Mariners stretched their success with a 4-1 home win over the Astros. Along the way, Logan Morrison hit a ground rule double in the second inning.

The ball found its way to a man, presumably a father, holding a baby.

The baby, rocking Steve Bartman headphones and possibly a onesie, gets an close-up view of the ball…and takes advantage. The baby, as many babies would, decides to take a chomp at the ball. While there is no clear sign of this baby having teeth grown in already, he or she brings his or her best bite to the baseball.

It does not get much more hipster than a Mariners fan taking his baby to a Monday evening baseball game with the boys. Perhaps the mother would have been appalled at her child licking dirt from Safeco Field.

Most important to Mariners fans was the bite to Felix Hernandez's ball. The former Cy Young Award winner pitched shutout innings in the victory (although, he recorded a no decision).

Novak Djokovic is the world's No. 1. He has seven Grand Slam titles, including this year's Wimbledon. He has more than $65 million in career earnings and is poised to cash in big again at this year's U.S. Open.

But it's also a complicated time in Djokovic's career. Djokovic married Jelena Ristic in July after proposing last September. Ristic was pregnant at the time of his their wedding -- and she still is. But Ristic, who started dating him in 2005, is expecting to deliver any day now.

The baby's schedule might not mesh with Djokovic's. There is still more than a week left in the tournament, and Djokovic has made four straight finals in Flushing Meadows, winning in 2011.

Djokovic mentioned earlier in the week that his life is going through some changes with a wife and baby on the way. After his second-round victory over Paul-Henri Mathieu of France, Djokovic had the following half-serious, half-comedic, exchange with a reporter:

Q. You were talking the other day about a shift in priorities when you have a family. Now you're in a Grand Slam campaign. Talk about the experience of trying to maybe return that focus for at least a fortnight to the job at hand.
DJOKOVIC: Well, my focus is there. I don't understand how the people really got what I said, but I don't think there is anything wrong. Actually, I think it would be much wrong if my tennis is in front of my baby and my wife. I think there is no question about it. You know, my full priorities and commitments and energy goes to my family as much as I need to, but that doesn't mean that I'm not gonna play tournaments or not going to continue on doing what I was doing so far. Of course I'm doing everything that I can, respecting the same daily routines that I had for many years with my team. And it's working well. Of course this is what I want to do well. I have big support from my wife, from my family, from my team. We are all on the same page. There is nothing significant that is going to change. But of course baby comes, and now when I'm married - if you were married, you would understand.

Q. I am.
DJOKOVIC: Right.

Q. Kids and all.
DJOKOVIC: I'm sure you get this -- you get a lot of questions (smiling).

After talking about his tennis for a bit, the subject of his future child returned again. Djokovic was asked about his plans to play for the Serbian Davis Cup team. Although Djokovic says he is currently expecting to play, he did mention his long-distance communication with Ristic.

"My wife is not here. I haven't seen her for a while. I just see stomach is growing on Skype and Facetime, but I want to spend some time with her," Djokovic said.

The image of Djokovic Facetiming his pregnant wife in the players' lounge is a humanizing thought. Djokovic may be the best tennis player on the planet, but he is also a husband awaiting a future child. It will be intriguing to see how such a circumstance affects his play in Flushing Meadows the next few rounds.

In addition to being traded from the Rockets to the Lakers, Jeremy Lin has been busy posting videos on social media this summer, and for the second time, he decided to victimize his mother in a prank.

To celebrate her birthday, Lin got a raspberry-chocolate cake, her favorite.

Then with a blindside attack, he smushed her face into the cake, and documented the moment with this Instagram video:

This cake caper took place just two weeks after Lin delivered thunderous dunks on unsuspecting friends and family, including his mom:

Lin also put his own twist on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by allowing himself to be thrown into the ocean, which was the eco-friendly approach because it saved water.

If all this activity weren't enough, don't forget about his starring in a viral video called Jeremy Lin Goes Hollywood that includes his playing the piano and participating in a musical dance number.




Imagine for a moment that you're a teenage athlete. You’ve loved sports as long as you can remember, and squeeze in as many as you can: Football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring and summer. The problem, at least in the eyes of some of the adults in your life, is that your love is too promiscuous. You feel constant pressure to pick just one.

Your football coach wants you and your teammates to spend your offseason loading the barbell like powerlifters and filling cafeteria trays like sumo wrestlers. The local AAU coach wants you to play basketball on his team through the spring and summer, making you more accessible to college recruiters. And the hitting instructor your father hired wants you to play baseball year-round: high school in the spring, travel teams in the summer, and showcases in the fall and winter.

Now imagine instead that you're the parent of a kid who’s good at just about anything he or she tries. On the one hand, it’s every dad’s dream to watch your son or daughter play hard and not just enjoy the experience, but dominate the competition. On the other, you’re hearing a steady stream of advice from coaches, trainers, college recruiters, and perhaps even pro scouts. “Your kid is good, but if Jack/Jackie doesn’t focus on one sport, he/she is going to fall behind.” (Make it a win-win-win situation for you, your child, and the team when coaching your kid in sports.)

And there goes that scholarship you were counting on when you tithed 10 percent of your income on camps, travel teams, and private coaches. So should you push your kid to focus on his or her best sport, and train for it year-round?

“Parents are constantly asking me that question,” says John Graham, CSCS, who runs St. Luke's Sports and Human Performance Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “I’ve always endorsed kids playing multiple sports. It's better for them from a physiological standpoint. The kids who play multiple sports become better athletically.”

Graham speaks from both personal and professional experience. For the past three decades, he’s trained athletes in just about every individual and team sport. On any given day at St. Luke’s, you might see him training tiny 8-year-old gymnasts, massive pro football players, or anything in between.

Before that, he lettered in three sports in high school -- football, basketball, track -- and also played rec-league baseball in the summer. He believes that broad foundation helped him earn a football scholarship to Pitt in the early 1980s. "I tell parents I don’t think I would've been capable of playing at that level if I hadn’t played multiple sports.” (Train your kids to be successful young athletes with good coaching and guidance. Learn the 3 Ways to Spot a 'Friday Night Tykes' Coach.)

BAD EXAMPLES

Kids and parents alike can be seduced by the success of the outlier. There’s Lionel Messi, the world’s best soccer player, who was more or less a pro at 11 years old. (He needed expensive medical treatments, which his current team, Barcelona, offered to provide if he joined their youth program.) There’s Tiger Woods, who hit golf balls on The Mike Douglas Show when he was just 2, won his first tournament at 8, and was ranked No. 1 in the world at 21. More recently, there’s Bryce Harper, who started his baseball career as a 3-year-old playing T ball against kids twice his age, and who regularly played more than 100 travel-team games a summer before he was drafted first overall in 2010 and signed a contract that guaranteed him $9 million.

Given those examples, most of us assume an athlete who wants to reach the highest level should focus on that goal from the earliest possible age, and pursue it to the exclusion of everything else.
You'd think that's the message athletes get at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. In the 2014 baseball draft, 18 of the 1,215 players selected trained with owner Eric Cressey and his coaches, including six of the top 100. If any facility stands as a shrine to sports specialization, it should be this one. But Cressey says the truth is the opposite.

“You rarely see someone who played only baseball all the way through go on to have a successful career in the big leagues,” he says, noting that you have to be a good athlete before you can be a good baseball player. (What makes a successful parent? Discover how your mistakes will affect your children in ways you can't anticipate and avoid the 6 Easy Ways to Screw Up Your Kids .)

Some of the athletes he trains start off as just that -- the best in any sport they pursue. But not all.

"I'm constantly amazed at how many late bloomers" develop into successful college players, and eventually become pro prospects, he says. “They weren’t great athletes at a young age, but that broad range of abilities made it possible for them to become great in a specific sport.”

Lack of athletic development isn’t the only risk of early specialization. "We know it leads to more injuries," Cressey says. “The more kids play, the more they get hurt before they turn 18."

A 2012 review in Sports Health notes that young pitchers who throw more than 100 innings per year have 3.5 times more injuries than those who pitch less. And pitchers who throw more than eight months a year are five times more likely to require elbow or shoulder surgery.

Baseball is hardly alone. In any sport, the review says, “increased exposure was the most important risk factor for injury.” The more an athlete trains and competes in a sport, and the higher the competitive level, the greater the risk.

Athletes may be most vulnerable during “peak height velocity” -- that is, the middle of their biggest growth spurt. That's when the risk of fractures is highest. Boys typically hit that peak between 12 and 16, while for girls it's between 9 and 13. (What is the Secret to Athletic Success? Stop comparing your kids to others.)

Competitive athletes aren’t the only ones at risk. My son, for example, grew six inches in about six months when he was 14. Near the end of that growth spurt he went on a weeklong, 50-mile backpacking trip with his Boy Scout troop. He complained of knee pain for years afterwards.

NOT ALL CHOICES ARE GOOD CHOICES
For all the downsides to early specialization, there are certainly times when it’s the best and perhaps only option. Sports that challenge balance in unique ways and require complex timing --gymnastics, figure skating, diving, and perhaps skiing -- require an early start. Kids have to get in by kindergarten or first grade to have any hope of reaching elite levels. Those are also some of the most expensive and demanding sports for both parents and athletes, which further limits the field.

Female golfers and tennis players also tend to commit to those sports when most kids are still learning to tie their own shoes.

In other situations, a kid simply may not want to play more than one sport. “If an athlete truly finds a pure passion, I have no issues with the athlete playing just that one sport, even at a young age,” says Lee Taft, CSCS, owner of Sports Speed, Etc., in New Castle, Indiana.

The athletic qualities they miss out on by focusing on one sport can be developed in a good training program, Taft says. “As coaches, we can use warmups, off-season, and pre-season to generalize workouts.”

Another reason to specialize: to mitigate injury risk. Graham offers an example: Aaron Gray, a 7-foot-tall basketball star, also played football in high school. “By his junior year, he worried he might get injured if he kept playing football,” Graham says. Focusing on basketball was the more prudent course, and it seems to have worked: Gray, a defense-and-rebounding specialist, has spent seven years in the NBA after four years in college.

The same might also apply to a slightly built baseball player, Graham adds. The larger his athletic portfolio, the greater his risk of a career-ending injury.

Yet another risk, Cressey notes, comes with being the guy we all wished we could be in high school: the star quarterback who’s also a star pitcher. He could end up throwing 12 months a year, if he participates in baseball showcases and football camps between the two seasons. Although it dramatically improves his odds of dating a cheerleader, the injury risk is enormous.

If you want to learn hundreds of doctor-approved, do-it-yourself fixes for every sports injury imaginable, check out The Athlete's Book of Home Remedies.

Cliff Paul is a household name and he does not even exist. The State Farm marketing character, the fictional identical twin to basketball star Chris Paul, is a fixture of TV, print and web commercials. Of course, in reality, he is Chris Paul with a fake mustache and glasses.

The Los Angeles Clippers guard has run with the joke, appearing side-by-side with Cliff. The brothers were separated at birth but have since bonded over their genetics. Both have a natural skill with assists, Chris dishing the rock in Lob City and Cliff dealing with insurance clients.

Thanks to Simply Measured, a Seattle-based social media analytics platform, the world has an infographic detailing the marketing impact of Cliff Paul. Cliff has Twitter and Instagram pages, which have helped him register a high Klout:

The legend of Cliff Paul is only rising. He has added a shoe in the Jordan Brand line–Chris' Jordan CP3 design in argyle. Cliff's likeness was featured is featured in NBA 2K14 and Chris' real life son Chris Jr. is now cast as both Chris Jr. and Cliff Jr. in State Farm commercials, including a recent cut with Warriors star Stephen Curry.

Using two test cases -- the Cliff Paul campaign's official launch and the February All-Star Weekend push -- Simply Measured analyzed the impact of Cliff. What they found was a whole lot of positivity on State Farm's end. For an insurance and financial services company, 23 million impressions in one December makes for a Merry Christmas.

Cliff Paul (@CliffPaul) has more than 80,000 followers on Instagam and 33,000 on Twitter. Chris Paul (@CP3) has about 2 million on Instagram and 3.45 million on Twitter.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees spent a great deal of his offseason generating buzz with his intense workouts. First, there was this flying pushup that went viral. Then in a recent Sports Illustrated article, Brees walked through his sessions at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego with trainer Todd Durkin.

But Brees doesn't let his freakish workouts dominate his offseason. Instead, he spends it doing a lot more important things, mainly spending time with his family.

Brees and his wife, Brittany, are always on the run with their three sons, Baylen, 5, Bowen, 3, and Callen, 1.

"We had all kinds of cool adventures," Brees said. "We spent a lot of time swimming. The kids are just kind of learning how to swim, so there was a lot of time in the pool."

The pool wasn't the only thing Brees and his sons enjoyed. They watched some World Cup soccer, decked out in USA jerseys, met Mickey and rode some rides in Disney World, and spent some time hanging out with Marines at MCAS Miramar in San Diego. And though the three boys are pretty close in age, their all into something different.

"It's funny to see the personality differences between all of them," Brees said. "My youngest, Callen, just loves anything sports related. Any ball. Football, baseball, basketball, soccer, you name it. It's what he wants to do. Bowen is kind of into the action figure. We were simulating all kinds of games with Iron Man, Batman and Spiderman.


"Baylen is super creative. He just comes with all kinds of different and crazy games, whether it's based upon Toy Story and we're Woody and Buzz Lightyear, or we're stormtroopers, or we're whatever kind of thing he's coming up with. It's awesome. It's great being a Dad."

And when he's not doing rip-trainer exercises, flex-T rotational lunges or building crazy Lego creations, Brees spends his time helping others through the Brees Dream Foundation, which works toward improving the quality of life in cancer patients and raising money for schooling. The organization was able to donate $1.5 million to benefit organizations around the country, but primarily helping the Hurricane Sandy Recover organization for the New York and New Jersey areas.

Brees also partnered up with Academy Award winning actor Matthew McConaughey and his Just Keep Livin Foundation for the Amazing Race, which is a miniature version of the reality television show. Teams of four go all through the French Quarter in New Orleans, searching for clues and solving riddles. Brees and McConaughey raised more than $750,000 to help children organizations and causes in the New Orleans area. And at the end of the night, the contestants headed to the House of Blues for a Kenny Chesney performance.

"He rocked," Brees said. "It was an acoustical performance, and it was fantastic."

Now that the NFL training camp period is underway, Brees now finds time to fit football into his already busy schedule, and work with some new guys. Brees' pass-heavy offense lost longtime target Lance Moore and jitterbug Darren Sproles, but he does have a new weapon in Brandin Cooks, the 20th pick of the NFL draft. The former Oregon State receiver and Brees have worked hard at getting on the right page.

"I really like him," Brees said. "Not only (because of) his talent and all of the different ways we can use him, but he's a great individual. You can see he's got great character, integrity, loves football. Loves to work, wants to be great. Those are all things you want in a young talented receiver."

He and the Saints are once again considered favorites to make a push toward the Super Bowl, where they haven't been since 2010.

"Everybody feels that way right now," Brees said, when asked if the team had what it takes to win the Super Bowl. "We're excited about the opportunity for it. We have as good a chance as any."

As Brees' offseason winds down to an end, an offseason filled with physical training, both with weights and hyper toddlers, his next off season will be joined by a new member of the Brees clan. Drew and Brittany are expecting a baby girl at the end of August, and her three older brothers are excited for her arrival.

"It's kind of what they were rooting for back when we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl," Brees said. "We'd ask ‘hey, do you want another brother or a baby sister?' And they all wanted a baby sister. We are really excited."

Peyton Manning is known for his ability to avoid sacks, but here's one he didn't mind taking as the Broncos opened training camp. Manning faces the double team of his 3-year-old twins (son Marshall and daughter Mosley, who is armed with a lollipop).

And here it is from some different angles:



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Normally a ninth-place result isn't much to celebrate, but after a disappointing 23rd in qualifying and overcoming several hurdles in the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was proud of his finish in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


And NASCAR's most popular driver wasn't the only one to recognize the significance of his accomplishment. Earnhardt's mother, Brenda, sent him a text message after the race in which she compared him to his famous father:


This message has all the aspects of a good text from mom -- encouragement, abbreviations and a typo. Brenda didn't have the nicest things to say about her son's Hendrick No. 88 Chevrolet, but credit to Junior for setting the record straight.

Earnhardt has gained an enormous Twitter following the few months he's been on the social network, and this tweet is a good example of why. The 39-year-old isn't afraid to let fans into his personal life.

Even with his ninth-place finish, Earnhardt remains in second place in the Sprint Cup standings, 24 points behind leader Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt will try to make up some ground this weekend when he takes the track at Pocono Raceway in hopes of defending his title there from 2013.

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Christian and Samantha Ponder may be the real life Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Did you know Sam Ponder, part of the ESPN College GameDay crew and sideline reporter for college football and basketball, was pregnant? Did anyone?

Some time after football season ended, when Christian cleaned out his Vikings locker and Sam wrapped up coverage of Florida State's national championship, the couple went into hibernation from public view.

The couple did not host the red carpet portion of the ESPYs, as they had in 2013. Did no one think it was weird Nick "Swaggy P" Young was hosting the red carpet?

It turns out the Ponders have been too busy learning how to be parents. It appears Christian and Sam have a new baby girl.



Larry Fitzgerald Sr. can attest:


Sam is from Phoenix, Fitzgerald's son plays for the Arizona Cardinals and Maya Moore was playing in the WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. Worlds colliding!

With Sam already putting her baby on an airplane, one can infer the baby is a few weeks old at the least. Although no particular birth date is clear, Sam's Twitter may have implied when she was still pregnant.



If news of the Ponders' baby wasn't enough by itself, consider her name: "Bowden." As in legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, the man who recruited Christian to be a Seminole.


It must be nice to have 377 wins, most in FBS coaching history, under your belt before you can talk. It is also nice to have a quarterback for a dad and a top ESPN reporter for a mom.

Bowden's middle name is reportedly "Sainte-Claire," the same middle name given to her mother, whose maiden name is Steele.

Thinking back to the Ponders' initial relationship formulation, it took months for the news to surface. Politicians cannot hide sexts, but blonde college football reporters can withhold pregnancy. What a country.

Can't wait for the baby's first word to be "dadgummit."

The stars, they're just like us. LeBron James was one of many fathers watching from the sidelines of a youth basketball game this weekend, and the newly signed Cavalier held nothing back when cheering on LeBron Jr. With his son competing in the AAU Fourth Grade National Championship -- there's no such thing as "too early" for Kentucky oach John Calipari, who indeed was in attendance -- James hollered, clapped and paced the sidelines.

At the end of the game, he stormed the court to tackle his oldest son, prompting a full-on dog pile from other teammates.

LeBron certainly looked to be enjoying himself, though it helped that LeBron Jr. is damn fast off the dribble. James' son was there representing the Miami City Ballers. Perhaps an essay for Sports Illustrated Kids is the logical next step.

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