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Ren Kelly Jersey

The AFI Fest has been rolling out its 2019 slate for months — since announcing Melina Matsoukas’ Queen & Slim as its opening-night film in August — and now we have the full lineup. Check it out below.

The festival, which runs November 14-21 in Los Angeles, will close with with Apple’s The Banker, starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult and Nia Long, and will feature the world premiere of Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell.

Here is the full lineup for the 2019 AFI Fest:


Samia, heavily pregnant and alone, wanders through Casablanca, seeking shelter until Abla, a single mother, reluctantly takes her in. As the women discover each other’s inner struggles, their lives are transformed. A film festival darling, Maryam Touzani’s debut feature crafts a delicate tale of love through a confident female gaze. DIR Maryan Touzani. SCR Maryan Touzani. CAST Lubna Azabal, Nisrin Erradi, Douae Belkhaouda. Morocco, France

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Anne works at a Toronto daycare with her best friend Sarah. Most of her interactions are awkward and erratic. When Anne goes skydiving for Sarah’s bachelorette party, it becomes a tipping point for her mental fragility in this intimate portrait of a volatile, young woman struggling to find her place in society. DIR Kazik Radwanski. SCR Kazik Radwanski. CAST Deragh Campbell, Matt Johnson, Dorothea Paas, Lawrene Denkers. Canada

In BABYTEETH Milla falls in love with Moses, a quirky, smalltime drug dealer. Their relationship blooms despite Milla’s rapid decline in health, igniting in her a new fervor for life. Director Shannon Murphy’s stunning debut feature is disarmingly honest and reveals the complexities of confronting mortality while celebrating life. DIR Shannon Murphy. SCR Rita Kalnejais. CAST Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Emily Barclay, Eugene Gilfedder, Essie Davis, Ben Mendelsohn. Australia
Two tenacious women in the post-siege ruins of 1945 Leningrad fight to rebuild their lives, in Kantemir Balagov’s loose adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich’s “The Unwomanly Face of War.” Balagov won the Best Director Award in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section and the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film. DIR Kantemir Balagov. SCR Kantemir Balagov, Aleksandr Terekhov. CAST Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina. Russia

After the death of their mother, the Connelly sisters discover and navigate secrets of murder, sex and crime in their sleepy, New England fishing town. This clever debut features a dynamic female ensemble cast and beautifully blends the best of dark comedy and noir. DIR Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy. SCR Danielle Krudy, Bridget Savage Cole. CAST Morgan Saylor, Sophie Lowe, Margo Martindale, June Squibb, Will Brittain, Gayle Rankin, Annette O’Toole. USA

Young, pregnant and barefoot in the street, Rosie is being accosted by her boyfriend when Aila comes to her aid. The two women immediately bond and the resulting unique afternoon is a cinematic wonder echoing the classic works of feminist cinema. DIR Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn. SCR Kathleen Hepburn, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. CAST Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Violet Nelson, Barbara Eve Harris, Charlie Hannah, Jay Cardinal Villenueve. Canada, Norway

After the death of their mother, siblings Gilda and Lucas reluctantly return to their quiet coastal hometown to scatter her remains in the ocean but are unable to make the quick retreat they had hoped for. With this sudden and unexpected reunion, they find boredom is more readily surmountable than grief and difficult conversations remain just out of reach. DIR Mateo Bendesky. SCR Mateo Bendesky. CAST Tomas Wicz, Laila Maltz, Alejandro Russek. Argentina

Writer/director Minhal Baig breathes new life into the classic American high school coming of age story. In the masterfully crafted story of Hala, a first-generation Pakistani-American teenager, brilliantly played by Geraldine Viswanathan (BLOCKERS), Hala navigates the treacherous terrain between religiously conservative parents and her own burgeoning sexuality and independence. DIR Minhal Baig. SCR Minhal Baig. CAST Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer, Gabriel Luna, Purbi Joshi, Azad Khan, Anna Chlumsky. USA
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A fatal hit-and-run accident marks one family’s devastating loss and another’s downward moral spiral in Lee Su-Jin’s luridly satisfying revenge thriller set against the backdrop of a corrupt Korean political landscape. Ambition, lust, and greed know no bounds in this cat-and-mouse neo-noir puzzle that continually remains one step ahead of the audience. DIR Su-jin Lee. SCR Su-jin Lee. CAST Seok-kyu Han, Kyung-gu Sul, Woo-hee Chun. South Korea

Enlisting former lovers, family members and friends to portray semi-fictionalized versions of themselves, Ivana returns home to recover from a mysterious illness, but becomes the source of gossip when seen with a younger man. At once charming and combative, Ivana Mladenović is a pleasure to watch as she hurls insults at loved ones. DIR Ivana Mladenović. SCR Ivana Mladenović, Adrian Schiop. CAST Ivana Mladenović, Luka Gramić, Gordana Mladenović, Miodrag Mladenović, Kosta Mladenović, Zivka Sorejevic, Andrei Dinescu, Anca Pop. Romania, Serbia

A hit at the Berlinale and Tribeca Film Festivals, Jennifer Reeder’s electric feature debut KNIVES AND SKIN uses pop music and magical realism to tell the story of a missing high school girl and the quiet, suburban town thrown into disarray following her disappearance. DIR Jennifer Reeder. SCR Jennifer Reeder. CAST Marika Engelhardt, Audrey Francis, Tim Hopper, Kate Arrington, James Vincent Meredith, Ireon Roach, Ty Olwin, Grace Smith, Kayla Carter, Robert T. Cunningham, Emma Ladji, Jalen Gilbert, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Tony Fitzpatrick, Raven Whitley. USA

Dripping with menace and fraught with tension, this formalist film is a lovely and incredibly sad testimony to real people in the last moments of their lives. Being witness to the everyday and mundane, you get an honest sense of who they are, how they feel, just from sparse dialogue and simple unadorned actions. DIR Sara Summa. SCR Sara Summa. CAST Barbara Verrastro, Pasquale Lioi, Canio Lancellotti, Donatella Viola. Germany

Olivia is an undocumented Filipina trans woman and the home health aide for Olga. Alex, Olga’s grandson, is just back from rehab and trying to get his life together. The two have enough going on to need a budding relationship. But that’s not how fate works. DIR Isabel Sandoval. SCR Isabel Sandoval. CAST Isabel Sandoval, Eamon Farren, Ivory Aquino, Lev Gorn, Lynn Cohen. USA, Philippines

Agoraphobic Seconda (Barbara Giordano) is confined to her family apartment — until her home life is suddenly upended and she is forced to reckon with the outside world. This original and idiosyncratic film from Swiss filmmaker Klaudia Reynicke follows a non-conforming, eccentric young woman forced to fight for her independence. DIR Klaudia Reynicke. SCR Klaudia Reynicke. CAST Barbara Giordano, Antonio Bannò, Gilles Privat, Maurizio Tabani, Anna Galante, Federica Vermiglio. Switzerland

Teenage mothers, Lu and Fati, live in a Catholic-based shelter in Buenos Aires with their children. One day, novice Sister Paola, conflicted by her own unresolved desires, arrives before taking her final vows and soon the complexities and resilience of motherhood will be tested by each woman in this understated drama. DIR Maura Delpero. SCR Maura Delpero. CAST Lidiya Liberman, Denise Carrizo, Agustina Malale, Isabella Cilia, Alan Rivas, Livia Fernán, Marta Lubos, Renata Palminiello. Italy

Indiscriminately housed in the Harvard Houghton Library is a collection of letters between author Jozef Wittlin and poet Zofia Bohdanowiczowa, retrievable using call number MS Slavic 7. Bohdanowiczowa’s granddaughter – Deragh Campbell in one of two dynamic performances at AFI FEST 2019 – is determined to investigate but comes up against unanticipated obstacles. DIR Sofia Bohdanowicz, Deragh Campbell. SCR Sofia Bohdanowicz, Deragh Campbell. CAST Deragh Campbell, Elizabeth Rucker, Mariusz Sibiga, Aaron Danby. Canada

91-year-old Viennese Robert just wants to bury his dead dog. Young Adib is hired for the job but won’t be taken advantage of. Will these two men be able to connect, or will brotherly love be forever severed? DIR Karl Markovics. SCR Karl Markovics. CAST Heinz Trixner, Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh, Konstanze Dutzi. Austria

Patrick has lost his hammer (and also his father.) Now left at the helm of the family business, a naturalist camp, his stress is quickly multiplying. Obsessed, Patrick discovers that everyone is a suspect, while searching for his beloved tool. Below the absurd surface lies a humorous and touching story about loss and grief. DIR Tim Mielants. SCR Tim Mielants, Benjamin Sprengers. CAST Kevin Janssens, Pierre Bokma, Katelijne Damen, Hannah Hoekstra, Jemaine Clement. Germany

Written, directed, produced and starring Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder, THE PLANTERS is a dark comedy about a reclusive telemarketer who befriends a homeless woman with multiple personalities. DIR Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder. SCR Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder. CAST Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder, Phil Parolisi, Pepe Serna. USA

Rocks has big dreams and enjoys hanging out with her all-girl crew. One day, her troubled, single mother disappears, leaving Rocks responsible for younger brother Emmanuel and causing her to push away her community. Employing a collaborative process with female youth, director Sarah Gavron crafts an authentic and compassionate portrait of girlhood. DIR Sarah Gavron. SCR Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson. CAST Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D’angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes, Tawheda Begum, Anastasia Dymitrow, Afi Okaidja, Sarah Niles. UK

Indonesia, 1960s. Siman unintentionally witnesses a foreign crew filming a fake moon landing. Discovered, he’s punished by having his tongue cut off, forcing him into silence. Siman moves through life in slow-motion, imitating astronauts. A daring, hypnotic drama, THE SCIENCE OF FICTIONS explores the mysterious political conflict of Indonesia’s history. DIR Yosep Anggi Noen. SCR Yosep Anggi Noen. CAST Gunawan Maryanto, Ecky Lamoh,Yudi Ahmad Tajudin, Tupon Rusini, Alex Suhendra, Gun Lukman Sardi, Marissa Anita, Asmara Abigail. Indonesia, Malaysia, France

At Haldwell, an elite boarding school, five factions run student life. Selah Summer leads the Spades, the most powerful faction, conducting all underground drugs and alcohol sales on campus. Having made her way to power, Selah won’t back down to rivals or threats. This sharp, fresh and unapologetic debut fiercely captures the pressures of modern youth. DIR Tayarisha Poe. SCR Tayarisha Poe. CAST Lovie Simone, Celeste O’Connor, Jharrel Jerome, Gina Torres, Jesse Williams. USA

Discouraged after attempting to engage the police, an indigenous woman whose newborn is kidnapped in a child-trafficking scheme persuades a journalist to investigate. An astoundingly assured debut, SONG WITHOUT A NAME’s meticulous black and white cinematography imparts a richness of texture and a luminescent glow, seeing an exquisite beauty in even the bleakest of realities. DIR Melina Léon. SCR Melina Léon, Michael J. White. CAST Pamela Mendoza Arpi, Tommy Páraga, Lucio Rojas, Maykol Hernández, Lidia Quispe. Peru, Spain, USA, Chile


After winning the US green card lottery, 36-year-old Aliya has to tell her family and friends. Director Assel Aushakimova’s WELCOME TO THE USA is a quiet, powerful film that shares a slice of Kazakhstani city life and the semi-hidden existence of the LGBTQ community in Almaty. DIR Assel Aushakimova. SCR Assel Aushakimova. CAST Saltanat Nauruz, Aida Zhetpissova, Dinara Aliyeva, Daniyar Beisov, Kul-Sara, Sultana Bektasova. Kazakhstan. World Premiere

Mike O’Berry Jersey

LAFAYETTE — The Ragin’ Cajuns have welcomed home Matt Deggs as head coach of Louisiana Baseball, as announced by Director of Athletics Bryan Maggard on Thursday. Maggard’s selection of Deggs not only brings a familiar face on the national scene of college baseball to Louisiana, but it also returns home an individual that resonates deeply with fans of Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball.

Formerly an assistant coach at Louisiana for the late Tony Robichaux from 2012-14, Deggs’ offensive coaching prowess and recruiting acumen resulted in the Ragin’ Cajuns earning the first-ever No. 1 national ranking in school history.

Following Louisiana’s NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2014, Deggs immediately turned to leading Sam Houston State to new heights. As head coach of the Bearkats from 2015-19, Sam Houston State posted an outstanding record of 187-118 (.613) with Southland Conference regular season championships in three of the last four seasons. Deggs guided the Bearkats to a Super Regional in 2017, becoming the first-ever Southland program to accomplish the feat.

“Matt Deggs will not only embrace the Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball culture, but he already understands it,” Maggard said. “That was critical for this hire. His coaching record speaks for itself. He is a proven winner with a relentless approach to recruiting. Matt’s ability and desire to reach the hearts of his student-athletes is what makes him a transformational coach.”

Competing for and winning championships has been routine for Deggs in his career as an assistant and head coach. As an assistant coach at Northwestern State (1996-97), Arkansas (2003-05), Texas A&M (2006-10) and Louisiana (2012-14), Deggs helped each program to at least one conference championship during his stay at each school. Deggs added three conference regular season and two tournament titles to the trophy case as Sam Houston State’s head coach.

Deggs led Sam Houston State to NCAA Tournament berths in two out of his five seasons (2016, 2017), and claimed at least one conference title over four-straight seasons to close out his time in Huntsville, Texas. Sam Houston State (42-22, 24-6) won both the regular season and tournament titles in 2016 en route to an NCAA Regional, coincidentally in Lafayette. Deggs’ 2017 squad broke the 40-win barrier again, posting a record of 44-23, 19-11. The 2017 group won 12-of-13 games to close the season to secure the school’s first-ever Super Regional berth in Tallahassee, Florida.

Sam Houston State’s 2017 group finished ranked in all six national polls, checking in at No. 14 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 16 (NCBWA), No. 18 (D1 Baseball), No. 19 (USA Today Coaches), No. 20 (Baseball America) and No. 22 (Perfect Game).

“The love of Cajun Nation pulled us back out of Texas to over here in Lafayette,” Deggs said. “Seven years ago, Coach (Robichaux) saved my life. And he saved my family. I’m here today to say ‘Thank you, Coach’. We’re here today to say ‘Thank you’.”

The final two squads to receive Deggs’ tutelage at Sam Houston State earned Southland regular season crowns. The Bearkats went 39-20, 24-6 in 2018, and followed with a 31-25, 20-10 record in 2019.

Development of student-athletes was a constant under Deggs’ watch of the Sam Houston State program. In his five seasons, a total of 16 Bearkats were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft.

Deggs’ aggressive offensive approach, dubbed “Pack Mentality”, has produced impressive results throughout his coaching career. Between his eight seasons coaching at Louisiana and Sam Houston State, his squads collectively batted over .300 four times (2013, 2014, 2017, 2019), smacked more than 50 home runs four times (2013, 2014, 2017, 2019) and totaled more than 100 doubles five times (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019). Louisiana’s 2013 and 2014 teams were especially prolific on the offensive side, batting .317 from the plate in back-to-back seasons and launching 74 and 68 home runs over those campaigns, respectively.

Crediting Coach Robichaux for resurrecting his coaching career, Deggs was brought onto the Ragin’ Cajuns staff during the 2012 season as an assistant coach, specializing as hitting coach and third base coach, while also overseeing team personnel and recruiting.

Louisiana made significant waves during Deggs’ stint as an assistant coach, including student-athletes receiving 15 All-Sun Belt honors, three All-America accolades and two Freshman All-America nods. Former Louisiana standout Blake Trahan earned Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and became the program’s first-ever Team USA member.

The 2014 season was a special one at Louisiana for many reasons. Not only was Cajun nation ignited around its top-ranked baseball program, but it was the winningest season in school history, at 58-10. Louisiana won the conference regular season title with its 26-4 mark in league play, and began a run of three consecutive Sun Belt tournament titles (2014, 2015, 2016).

The No. 1 ranking that Louisiana earned in 2014 was the second time a program that Deggs was a member of ascended to the top spot in the national polls. During his time with Texas A&M (2006-10), the 2009 squad achieved the school’s first-ever preseason national No. 1 ranking.

The Aggies produced two Big 12 Players of the Year, nine All-Americans and 15 First-Team All-Big 12 performers during Deggs’ time with the program. Texas A&M won back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2007 and 2008. Deggs’ five-year stretch with Texas A&M saw the program go from posting a sub-.500 record in 2006 to reaching back-to-back NCAA Super Regionals in 2007 and 2008. Deggs assisted the Aggies to two Big 12 Tournament crowns (2007, 2010) and one regular season title (2008).

Prior to coaching the Aggies, Deggs served as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas for Dave Van Horn from 2003-05. Deggs provided instruction to three Razorbacks who earned all-conference recognition, as well as three Freshman All-Americans. The Razorbacks claimed both the SEC Championship and booked a trip to the College World Series in 2004.

Deggs first received experience as a head coach at Texarkana College for five seasons (1998-2002), compiling a sound record of 187-100. The squad claimed two Texas Eastern Athletic Conference runners-up finishes, a pair of TEAC titles (2001, 2002) and the school’s first-ever trip to Junior College World Series.

Developing and recruiting talented young men was a staple of Deggs’, even early on in his coaching career, as he brought future MLB All-Star Hunter Pence to Texarkana as a former high school standout from Arlington, Texas.

Deggs spent the 1996 and 1997 seasons as the hitting and infield coach at Northwestern State under Van Horn, assisting the Demons to the Southland Conference title in 1997. His infield units ranked among the top infield groups in the country for both seasons.

During his own playing career, Deggs was an infielder for Alvin Junior College from 1991-92 and at Northwood University from 1993-94. Deggs earned a Master’s degree from Northwestern State in 1996.

Deggs followed his college career with a turn in the professional ranks, playing three years for the Mobile (Ala.) Baysharks and the Tennessee Tomahawks, two of which were spent as a player/coach under former Boston Red Sox manager Butch Hobson and former Red Sox catcher Mike O’Berry.

Deggs is married to the former Kathy Saldua and the couple has a son, Kyler, and two daughters, Klaire and Khloe.

Follow the Ragin’ Cajuns on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@RaginCajuns) to stay up-to-date on all within Louisiana Athletics.

Sherman Corbett Jersey

UTSA baseball coach Sherman Corbett resigned to take an undetermined administrative position within the athletic department, the school announced Friday.

Corbett said in a release that he wanted to step away from the field in order to spend more time with his family, especially as his son moves into high school.

“(Athletic director Lynn Hickey) and I had previously discussed this move over the last few years, and I believe the time is now,” Corbett said. “I will continue to be involved in the baseball program, but it will be in a different capacity. I look forward to the challenges ahead.”

Corbett leaves with a 353-329 record over 12 seasons. UTSA claimed a pair of regular-season Southland Conference titles under his watch and reached the NCAA tournament in 2005.

The Roadrunners followed with the most successful stretch in program history, winning 144 games from 2006-09.

The program had declined sharply since then, however, culminating in this year’s last-place finish in the 12-team Southland.

This is UTSA baseball coach Sherman Corbett during a Wednesday afternoon July 12, 2000 reception at the UTSA University Center. Photo: WILLIAM LUTHER, Express-News
Photo: WILLIAM LUTHER, Express-News
This is UTSA baseball coach Sherman Corbett during a Wednesday afternoon July 12, 2000 reception at the UTSA University Center.

“He told me he thought it was time to consider making the move to an administrative position and allow the program to have new leadership and direction,” Hickey said.

Associate head coach Jason Marshall will serve as interim coach, and a national search for Corbett’s replacement will begin immediately.

Bert Inks Jersey

It’s Black Friday, and Cathie Blyleven wants to buy her husband Todd a new pair of boots. He needs to replace his current pair, which he’s owned for seven years but hasn’t worn for about six weeks now. They’re made by Durango, light brown and roper style with red tops. Real cowboy stuff. But he’s buried them on a shelf at the top of his closet, near his brown cowboy hat and white-checkered flannel shirt, both of which he hasn’t worn since removing them from his sweat-soaked body on the morning of Oct. 2. The left boot has a tear stretching down its seam. Also, dark splotches of blood have dried across the leather on both boots, prompting Todd to break out in a cold sweat every time he glances at them.

And so on this Friday, Cathie, Todd and their two children — their 14-year-old son, Dylan, and 11-year-old daughter, Gracie — pile into the family’s black Dodge Ram and find a Boot Barn tucked into a strip mall in Frisco, Texas. Located about 25 miles north of Dallas, Frisco is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities. The Blylevens moved there in August from Orange County, Calif. Todd, a 45-year-old former professional baseball player and scout, and the son of the Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, had been offered a marketing job for a software company that works with sports businesses.

In Boot Barn, Todd strolls the aisles, scanning the racks. A pair of dark brown leather boots, made by Ariat, catches his eye. He finds his size, 13, and tries them on as his family watches. He stands up, moves around a bit and stretches.

“They’re really comfortable,” he tells his wife and kids. “I can definitely run in them.”

Later in the day, Cathie pulls him aside.

“Do you know what you said before while trying on the boots?” she asks him.

All Todd can recall is mentioning how comfortable they were.

“You said: ‘These are really comfortable. I can definitely run for my life in them.’”

Todd, a man who grew up in baseball clubhouses where feelings were shunned, not shared, is reminded of a question his father had recently posed to him over the phone:

“When,” Bert asked, “do you think you’ll be back to your normal self?”

It’s February 13, 2000, the night before Valentine’s Day, and Todd and Cathie are out on their first date. They’re in Anaheim, dancing at a country bar to George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart,” a song they’ll dance to again at their wedding 17 months later.

They only met a few weeks ago — Todd is recently divorced, and one of his friends is dating one of Cathie’s friends. Cathie spotted Todd one night at a party, took note of his blue eyes and red freckles and broad shoulders. “A piece of American pie,” she’ll refer to him later, after they fall in love. People, she noticed, just seem to gravitate towards him.

“Why can’t I meet someone like him?” she asked her friend.

Their second date is two weeks later, at Disneyland. Soon after they’re a couple, spending evenings dancing at country bars with friends, with Todd’s rhythmic steps leading the way. One night, while sitting in the back of a friend’s truck on the way to a bar, someone asks Todd a question about baseball.

“Why does everyone always ask you about baseball? Cathie asks. Todd laughs.

“My dad was a baseball player,” he says.

“Oh, like the kind on TV?”

Todd laughs again. Yeah, he says. He tells Cathie that he was a baseball player too.

“Like, on weekends? I’d love to come watch you play.”

Todd gives Cathie the CliffNotes of his career: He spent five seasons pitching in the minor leagues, and another eight as a Major League Baseball scout. His connection to the sport is deeper than that, though. As a kid, he’d hang out in the clubhouse of whatever team Bert was playing for. He’d shine shoes and serve as a batboy. He’d shag fly balls alongside All-Stars like Kirby Puckett and talk pitching with Frank Viola, who later on taught Todd how to throw a changeup. Once, Todd broke his left arm while swinging a bat in the clubhouse alongside Pete Rose’s son; but Bert was pitching that day, so he didn’t inform his dad until after the game.

As the years went by, Todd became a talented pitcher himself. He starred at California’s Villa Park High and was offered a number of baseball scholarships. He eventually signed with the California Angels and spent seven years pitching in the minor leagues.

“He worked real hard and had a good curveball,” recalls Lee Stange, who was one of Bert’s pitching coaches and also one of Todd’s in the minor league. “Just not as good as his dad’s.”

When he first met Cathie, Todd was working as a manager at Boot Barn. To her, he’s always been more than just a baseball hound, even when others never viewed him as much more than a jock. There were multiple nights where she received a call from him saying he’d be late for their date. “There’s a 10-car pileup on the freeway and I’m going to see if anyone needs help,” he told her one time. “There was a lady with a baby standing out in the rain waiting for a tow truck,” he said another night. As Cathie puts it today, matter-of-factly, “Todd’s always been a very helpful person.”

It’s a hot October night in Las Vegas, and Todd and Cathie, along with 16 other family members and friends, disembark a party bus and make their way south on the Strip. Their destination is an acre-long patch of asphalt resting in the shadows of the 43-floor Mandalay Bay Resort, home this evening to the third night of the Route 91 Harvest Festival country music show.

The Blylevens and their friends have spent the past three days enjoying a typical Las Vegas vacation: Playing slots and lunching at Mario Batali’s restaurant during the day, dancing to the music of country stars like Sam Hunt, Jake Owen and Eric Church at night. Todd, though, is especially ecstatic about the evening ahead. It’s the festival’s final night and Jason Aldean, one of his favorite singers, is the closing act.

Aldean takes the stage at around 9:30 and Todd, in his brown cowboy hat and white-checkered flannel shirt, spends the next 35 minutes in the back of the venue alternating between dancing and swigs of beer. A few minutes after 10, Aldean is belting out the lyrics to “Any Ol’ Barstool,” the penultimate song of his set:

Ask any ol’ barstool in this town
Ask my new found party crowd
Sure I take more jack in my coke now
A little more high in my smoke now

Todd’s left hand grips the right hand of Brianna Barnes, a family friend who’s come along for the trip. His feet glide across the concrete as the two dance and sing along, with Todd’s smile stretching from ear to ear. He hears something that sounds like a firecracker but continues dancing. Aldean croons the final line of “Any Ol’ Barstool,” his voice drowning out the sound of five more pops.

“What do ya’ll say we pick it back up just a little bit?” Aldean asks the crowd. The band hits the chords for “When She Says Baby,” one of Todd’s favorite songs. Aldean begins singing.

More pops ring out. This time, it sounds like two dozen. Cathie asks Todd if it’s fireworks.

His eyes trail the sound back towards the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where he catches a glimpse of a light flashing about 30 floors above the ground.

“It’s gunfire,” he yells. “Get down!”

Todd and the rest of the group collapse to the ground and cover their heads with their hands. Aldean flees the stage. Some of the venue’s lights go dark.

For a moment, the barrage of bullets stop. “We need to get out of here,” Todd shouts. He spots a line of food trucks at the eastern border of the venue and points a Budweiser cart out to Cathie and his friends. “We can get cover there.”

They start sprinting, with Todd’s 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame serving as fullback, as more gunfire rains down. Todd hears the ting of a bullet striking metal. He hears the thud of a bullet striking flesh, followed by a person gasping for air. He sees chunks of white dust kicking up around his feet, his fight-or-flight reflex blocking out the screams around him — his focus honed in on the shelter now just a few yards away.

He reaches safety, unharmed. His family and friends have made it too. More pops ring out. They sound like they’re coming from different spots. Are there multiple shooters?

They find a pair of squad cars and take cover next to an officer with a hole in his foot. He has no information to share. They rest for a few moments and then sprint north up Giles Street. Todd sees a man carrying a girl like she’s a pair of scissors. She’s wearing boots and a tank top and can’t be more than 18 or 19 years old. She reminds him of his niece.

Todd helps the man lay the girl’s lifeless body down. He sees the showy World Series ring he wears on his right hand, the one he earned as a scout for Anaheim Angels in 2002, and feels guilty, as if he were disrespecting the dead.

He turns the ring inward.

“Take Cathie and everyone else and get them out of here,” Todd tells his brother-in-law. He hugs his wife goodbye and darts back towards the festival. Near where he first took shelter, he finds a woman bleeding. He lifts her up with the help of a stranger and leaves her by the two squad cars. Back inside, he searches for water but is forced instead to settle for a different stranger’s beer. A small blonde woman who says she’s a nurse comes over and asks what she can do to help. Todd leads her to an injured man huddled by the squad cars. He runs back in again and begins searching for wounded bodies. “Who needs help?” he shouts. More pops ring out.

The shooting lasts 10 minutes.

Ten minutes is all it takes for Todd’s life to change forever.

Todd spends the next couple hours lugging bodies out. He loses track along the way but believes the number to be a couple dozen. Some he saves. At least four he does not, like the girl who reminded him of his niece, or the petite brown-haired girl who he tossed over his shoulder, only to realize upon laying her body down that she was already dead.

At around 6:30 in the morning, Todd calls Cathie. She texts him her location. A stranger had invited her and the group into his condo for safety, where they’ve spent the night, and Todd, it turns out, is only 50 yards away. The two haven’t spoken since 2:30 AM, when he called to update her. She could hear him over the phone barking orders and calling for medical help.

Todd walks down a dark street and finds his wife. He collapses into Cathie’s arms, his clothes soaked in the blood of others.

Later that day, he speaks to his father over the phone. Bert wants to know why Todd stayed behind when he could have fled.

“Dad,” Todd says, “If that were me laying down there I would hope that somebody else would have come back in to help.”

It’s October 2, 2017, the night after the shooting, and Todd is back in Frisco. He and Cathie flew home that morning. Their son Dylan, a star pitcher, catcher and third baseman, has a game, and so they drive straight from the airport to one of Frisco’s local parks.

As he walks toward the bleachers, Todd senses the eyes of the other parents on him and Cathie. Some approach them. News of their past 24 hours has traveled fast. By now, details of the shooting have emerged: Fifty-eight people dead, plus the shooter himself, a 64-year-old man named Stephen Paddock. 851 injured. It’s the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States. No motive has been discovered.

Todd approaches the field. There are three innings remaining. Dylan’s team is hitting, and so he sprints out of his dugout and into his dad’s arms. Todd pulls his children in tight. It’s a habit his family will notice him develop over the next few months — his hugs growing stronger and kisses lasting longer. Seated in the bleachers, Todd’s eyes survey the field. Baseball has always been a sanctuary for him, especially his son’s games, but he struggles to concentrate. The contrast between his past two nights is weighing on him. He’s gone from blood to baseball, from families sobbing to smiling.

He’s surrounded by life but all his brain can think about is death.

And yet life ticks on, ready or not.

A few weeks later Todd returns to work. One day, while sitting in his downtown Dallas office, he hears the opening sounds of Aldean’s “Any Ol’ Barstool” come up on the office radio. He gets up from his desk and descends down three flights of stairs to a quiet space. His body is begging for him to cry. But Todd’s the big and strong professional athlete, a man raised in baseball clubhouses and on the mantra of “no blood, no foul.” The only time he can remember crying in the last five years is when Cathie’s mother died. It happened alone in his bedroom, because, he says, “I thought it was my job to be strong for others.” Cathie describes him as having a “hard outer shell.”

He waits long enough for the song to end and returns to his desk.

Slowly, those around him return to their usual routines. Dinners are scheduled, nights out at country bars are planned. Todd goes along, but even among friends and his beloved country music he doesn’t feel free. He can no longer sit with his back toward the room. He scans for exits when entering restaurants. If Jason Aldean comes on, he walks outside. He argues with Cathie about sending Gracie to a youth event at their church.

His kids begin to notice that Dad is different.

“What happened, that’s going to be on Dad’s mind for a long time,” Cathie tells them.

Todd wonders why he survived and others didn’t. He thinks about how many more people he could have saved, if only he had EMT training. He joins Facebook groups for survivors of the shooting and checks them multiple times a day. He wants to hear the stories of the other survivors, and tell them that they’re not alone. Some members send him videos of his heroism. Todd’s brain has blocked out much from that night, but the clips trigger his memories. In one, Todd is seen carrying a girl to safety while bullets buzz around him. He watches the video with Cathie and says, “A guardian angel wrapped me in its wings” — his attempt at explaining why he survived. But that doesn’t help him fight back the nightmares.

Thanks to his last name, his story has made the rounds in the news. He receives invites from cable networks and town halls to share his views on gun control. But he’s not interested in engaging in politics or becoming a spokesman for that cause. Todd’s focus is elsewhere, on himself and the other survivors — of Route 91 but also of all the mass shootings in America, a group that grows larger by the month — scratching to reclaim their old lives. He starts seeing a therapist, but it doesn’t do enough to help release the pressure he feels bubbling up in his head. He switches to a specialist in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, a treatment designed for combatting traumatic memories, and meets with her every Monday afternoon. She helps unlock some of the trauma his brain has hidden from him, and scenes from that night in Las Vegas go from foggy to vivid.

Todd realizes again how lucky he is to be alive.

On Sunday morning, November 5, Todd’s watching his son play baseball again when his phone begins buzzing. There was another shooting, this time in a church in Sutherland Springs, just outside San Antonio; 26 are dead, 20 more injured. It’s been just four weeks since that night in Vegas. He fights back tears, and also the urge to jump in his car and make the five-hour trip south. He thinks about all those who’ve died but also the survivors who, like him, might now be struggling.

One Sunday soon after, Todd’s sitting in church with Cathie. It’s a new tradition for the family, one they have added since Vegas.

He and Cathie are seated alone in a pew in the back corner, no kids, no family.

Sitting there, with his wife, listening to the choir sing about love, Todd brings his hands to his head.

Tears rain down his cheeks.

It’s a weekday morning in February, and Todd is on the phone while driving to work. He wants to talk about what he’s been through the past four months, for himself but also so that others enduring similar ordeals know they’re not alone.

“In American culture we’re supposed to get over stuff in, like, 30 days,” he says. “Someone passes away and it’s like, ‘It’s been a week, so are what you going to do now?’”

Every week Todd’s memories from that night grow clearer. He says he’s doing better, that he no longer fears crying, a message he’s tried to pass along to his son. He still checks in on his Facebook groups, but not as frequently as he once did. His conversations with his dad have changed, too. Recently, Bert left him a voicemail: “Just wanted to see how you’re doing. I’m really proud of you, take your time, and we’re here for you.”

There’s no more mention of being normal or returning to his former self.

Certain events change a man. Bert, like Todd and Cathie and the rest of the Blyleven family, now recognizes that this new man is who Todd is. And if they ever forget, all they have to do is glance at his right arm and the tattoo stretching from his shoulder to his elbow. Todd got it just a few days ago. It features a cross with the number 91 between a pair of angel’s wings. “To respect my guardian angel from that night,” he says. The date of the massacre, 10-1-2017, is sketched above the phrase COUNTRY STRONG.

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Albert Belle was issued a five-game suspension in 1996 for smashing into Fernando Vina during a game in Milwaukee. The play sparked a benches-clearing brawl when Julian Tavarez threw behind Brewers catcher Mike Matheny.

By Joe Noga, and Paul Hoynes,

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Myles Garrett’s shocking fight with Mason Rudolph at the end of last week’s Browns-Steelers game has dominated sports headlines, and the incident got us thinking about the biggest brawls and most costly suspensions in baseball history.’s Paul Hoynes joined Joe Noga on the Cleveland Baseball Talk Podcast to chat about Garrett’s indefinite penalty and some of the worst on-field incidents he’s seen in more than 36 years covering the big leagues.

We also delve into the Indians’ 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft and talk about MLB’s move that could require pitchers to face a minimum of three batters next season.

Other topics discussed in this week’s podcast include:
•How far down the rabbit hole will the Astros’ sign stealing investigation go?
•Who has the strongest chance of being elected to the Hall of Fame after the ballot was released this week?
•How does the steroid era still impact voters’ decisions on the HOF ballot?

Got a question you want answered on the podcast? Submit it to Paul or Joe on Twitter or via email

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ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Three of five kids killed in a fire at a home child care center in Pennsylvania were the children of a volunteer firefighter who was responding to another call, an official said Monday.

Deadly fire at Erie Pennsylvania daycare center kills 5 children, Photo Date: 8/11/19 (Source: Scooter Blakely / Erie Firefighters)

Luther Jones’ two daughters and a son were trapped in a blaze in the lakeside city of Erie while he was responding to a call for what turned out to be a malfunctioning alarm, said Lawrence Park Township Volunteer Fire Chief Joe Crotty.

The children haven’t been formally identified, but the Erie Fire Department says the dead range in age from 8 months to 7 years. The owner was hospitalized after the fire Sunday. Erie fire officials say the children were staying overnight at a house that had been turned into a day care center.

The mother of Jones’ three children, Shevona Overton, who said she is also the mother of another child killed, told WICU that she had “lost a piece of me that can never be replaced.”

“I’m just so hurt my babies are gone,” she said. “I love them dearly. I just hurt inside knowing that my kids were fighting and hurting in that fire. Every minute, I feel the same pain.”
The fire, reported at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday, was funneling out of every first-floor window when firefighters arrived, Erie Chief Fire Inspector John Widomski told the Erie Times-News. He said the blaze appeared to have started in the living room area on the first floor.

The department’s two fire inspectors and three Erie police detectives trained in fire investigations are working to determine the cause.

Valerie Lockett-Slupski, standing across the street from the fire-damaged house, told the newspaper she was the grandmother of four of the children — two boys and two girls — and that they were staying at the home because their parents were working overnight.

“So, we are all at a loss, trying to figure out how this happened,” Lockett-Slupski said.

Erie police detectives told the newspaper that the owner was listed in stable condition after being flown to UPMC Mercy. Chief Guy Santone of the Erie Fire Department said a neighbor was also injured.

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership lists the Harris Family Daycare as “a 24 hour, 7 days a week childcare service including holidays.”

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El Club de Beisbol Águilas de Mexicali anunció la tarde de este martes ajustes en su roster, con la llegada del outfielder Daniel Carbonell, además del lanzador de relevo Maikel Cleto, quienes reforzarán el renglón de extranjeros.

Daniel Carbonell es un jardinero derecho natural, nacido en Camaguey Cuba el 29 de marzo de 1991. Perteneció a la organización de Gigantes de San Francisco donde alcanzó el nivel AAA, en Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, jugó ya con Tomateros de Culiacán en la temporada 2016-2017 y Charros de Jalisco.

Maikel Cleto lanzador derecho especialista como relevo corto, nació en Santo Domingo República Dominicana el 1 de mayo de 1989, tiene experiencia en el MLB con Cardenales de San Luis en la ediciones 2011 al 2013 y Medias Blancas de Chicago en 2014.

Se presentó en el Liga Mexicana del Pacífico con Cañeros de Los Mochis en la temporada 2017-2018 y Yaquis de Obregón en la 2018-2019, donde logró 13 salvados y efectividad en carreras limpias admitidas (ERA) de 1.93.

Por lo tanto, para que Mexicali pueda contar con los derechos de Maikel Cleto, fue necesario ceder a cambio al mexicoamericano Juan Pérez a Yaquis de Cd. Obregón.

En cuanto a los derechos de Daniel Carbonell, fueron tomados del Club Naranjeros de Hermosillo, a cambio del Grandes Ligas, Colin Walsh.

Para dar lugar en el roster a estos dos nuevos integrantes, los Emplumados desactivan al pítcher derecho gigantón Trevor Megill y al jardinero veteranazo Chris Roberson, quienes podrán ser activados en el transcurso de la Temporada 2019-2020, de la LMP.

Estos movimientos aplican a partir del martes 5 de noviembre, cuando Los caballeros Águilas visiten a Algodoneros de Guasave en el Estadio Francisco Carranza Limón.

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The Tampa Bay Rays are the latest team to lock up one of their young core players to a long-term contract extension.

Wednesday Marc Campbell morning the Rays announced they have signed superutility man Brandon Lowe to a six-year contract extension. The deal guarantees him $24 million and includes two club options. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says the contract can max out at $49 million through the options and various incentives.

“We believe Brandon has the potential to make a longstanding impact at the major league level,” Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander said in a statement. “He’s shown both an advanced feel for hitting and the ability to drive the ball to all fields, and he’s quickly becoming a versatile defender who can help us in many ways. Brandon’s development, both offensively and defensively, is a testament to his commitment to his craft, and a credit to all of our staff who have scouted, coached and worked with him. With this agreement, we’re excited to cement his place in our young core for years to come.”

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Philadelphia Phillies
Less than one full season into his career, Brandon Lowe has secured a six-year contract. USATSI
The six-year contract buys out Lowe’s six years of team control with the two club options covering potential free agent years. The Rays now control him through his age 31 season.

Lowe, 24, appeared in 43 games last season, hitting .233/.324/.450 with six home runs in 148 plate appearances. The 2016 13th-round pick had a monster minor league season, authoring a .297/.391/.558 batting line with 31 doubles and 22 homers in 100 games split between Double-A and Triple-A.

A natural second baseman, Lowe has played some corner outfield throughout his career, and the Rays do love versatile players. His lefty bat and positional flexibility fits nicely into their roster scheme. Lowe is a consensus back-half of the top 100 prospect. Here is a snippet of’s free scouting report:

Lowe has long stood out for his pure hitting ability and on-base skills from the left side of the plate, and he showed in 2018 that he could apply his raw power in games, as he finished the season with 28 home runs and 37 doubles between the Minors and Tampa Bay. He can punish a fastball and produced slightly above-average exit velocities in his first taste of the Majors. He has a good feel for the strike zone, doesn’t chase and consistently capitalizes on pitchers’ mistakes. Lowe is an average runner but doesn’t steal many bases. His average arm plays well at second base, where he’s a solid but unspectacular defender, and he held his own at both outfield corners last season even Marc Campbell though he was new to both positions.

The improved defensive versatility adds even more value to Lowe’s bat-first profile and should give him the chance to start on a near everyday basis in the big leagues.

Lowe did not have a guaranteed big league roster spot going into spring training, though the extension and Matt Duffy’s lingering hamstring issue mean he’s all but certain to be on the Opening Day roster. He figures to share second base time with Joey Wendle and also see spot starts in left and right fields.

The Rays signed both Evan Longoria (six years, $17.5 million in 2008) and Matt Moore (five years, $14 million in 2011) to long-term contract extensions before they had established themselves at the big league level. Lowe’s deal is right in line with other recent extensions for middle infielders with less than one full year of service time:

Scott Kingery, Phillies: Six years, $24 million with three club options
Paul DeJong, Cardinals: Six years, $26 million with two club options
Tim Anderson, White Sox: Six years, $25 million with two club options
Those extensions represent all sorts of different scenarios. Kingery signed his deal before playing in a single MLB game and had a disappointing rookie year in 2018, hitting .226/.267/.338 (61 OPS+). DeJong signed his deal following a strong partial rookie season in 2017 and built on it in 2018. Anderson has backtracked a bit since signing his extension after his rookie year in 2016.

The Rays surprisingly won 90 games last season and they boast one of the game’s best farm systems. Lowe may only the first member of their young core to sign a long-term deal. Others like outfielder Austin Meadows, shortstop Willy Adames, righty Tyler Glasnow, catcher Mike Zunino, and reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell are likely next on the team’s extension priority list.

In recent weeks Alex Bregman, Max Kepler, Jose Leclerc, Jorge Polanco, Aaron Nola, Luis Severino, and of course the great Mike Trout all signed long-term extensions multiple years prior to reaching free agency.

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The Phillies announced Tuesday that they’ve designated infielder Mitch Walding for assignment. His spot on the roster will go to right-hander Blake Parker, whose previously reported signing has now been made official.
Mitch Walding Jersey

Walding, 26, was hitless in two plate appearances with the Phils and has struggled considerably with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2019. Through 346 plate appearances there, he’s batted .204/.350/.366 with a sky-high 38 percent strikeout rate. Strikeouts were an issue for Walding last season as well, but not to this extent. The first baseman/third baseman hit .265/.390/.474 with the IronPigs a year ago and collected his first MLB hit when he reached the Majors (though he received just 19 plate appearances). Walding has a minor league option remaining beyond the current season.

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The Seattle Mariners have agreed to a long-term deal with first baseman prospect Evan White, according to multiple reports. White, 23, spent last season with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. No player at the Double-A level has ever signed a long-term extension, ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes.

Jeff Passan

The Mariners and first-base prospect Evan White are in agreement on a six-year, $24 million contract with three club options, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.

White, 23, spent last season at Double-A. No player at that level ever has received a long-term extension.

11:32 PM – Nov 22, 2019
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The contract is reportedly a six-year deal worth $24 million and contains three club options. The contract, can max out at $55.5 million if the options are exercised, according to The Athletic’s Robert Murray. The rebuilding Mariners, who finished the 2019 at 68-94, are able to solidify White as a key part of their path to contention. White is expected to become the Mariners primary first baseman, Passan reports.

In Double A, White hit .293/.350/.488 with 55 RBI, 18 home runs, 13 doubles and two triples in 92 games. The Mariners selected White with the No. 17 pick of the 2017 MLB draft out of the University of Kentucky.

CBS Sports’ RJ Anderson ranked White as the fourth-best prospect in Seattle’s farm system. “White is widely held as the best defensive first baseman in the minors, and one of the best cold-corner gloves in the game,” Anderson wrote.

The White contract follows a trend in Major League Baseball where clubs are signing their younger players to long-term deals. The Phillies made a similar move in signing a player without any MLB experience to a long-term deal when they agreed to a six-year contract last March with top prospect Scott Kingery.
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Before the start of the 2019 season, the White Sox signed outfielder Eloy Jimenez to a six-year deal worth $43 million guaranteed. Jimenez, like White and Kingery, had never appeared in a MLB game. Jimenez got called up the the big leagues at the end of March, and spent the rest of the season with the club where he hit .267/.315/.513 with 31 home runs and 79 RBI.