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Heartbreaking video shows Jose Fernandez's joy when he learned he was having a daughter

In August, Jose Fernandez nervously cut into a cake with his smiling, pregnant girlfriend, Maria Arias, nearby.

POR FIN YA ME TOCABA SER ABUELOPosted by Orlando A. Sanfiel on Thursday, August 11, 2016

The cake was pink. The two were going to have a baby girl.

“I knew it! I knew it!” Fernandez can be heard saying in a video posted on Facebook by Arias’ father, Orlando A. Sanfiel.

It was clear the Marlins’ star pitcher was excited to be a dad.

>> Watch the heartbreaking video here

On Wednesday, Fernandez's teammates, family and friends celebrated the 24-year-old’s life, which was cut short Sunday in a fatal boating wreck that also killed two of his friends.

The Marlins held a public memorial service for Fernandez, starting with the departure of the funeral motorcade, which was followed by a public viewing at St. Brendan's Catholic Church.

As the motorcade entered the roads alongside Marlins Park, fans could be heard chanting, “Jose!"

The funeral motorcade departed from the park at 2:16 p.m., a time set in honor of Fernandez’s jersey number, but not before his teammates had an opportunity to pay their respects and surround the hearse.

>> WATCH: Dee Gordon pays tribute to Jose Fernandez with emotional home run

The procession came with the sobering reality that this would be the last time that Fernandez’s body, a body that just days ago represented the hopes of a fan base and the city's Cuban community, would be at Marlins Park.

Following the departure of the hearse, Marlins Tom Koehler and David Phelps went over to the memorial wall that was set up by the Marlins and left their friend and teammate one final note.

Several other teammates also took time to sign the memorial wall.

>> Read more trending stories

Fernandez’s family, including his grandmother, who was wearing a Marlins jersey with pink lettering, arrived at the church a short time after the procession departed.

Following a priest blessing the casket, Fernandez’s family placed his All-Star Game and Marlins jerseys on the casket.

Doctor Robert: Pitt-Marshall Injury Report

Here’s a look at the Panthers’ injuries heading into this week

Since the ACC requires its members to provide injury reports for in-conference matchups, Pitt released an official report last week. But with the Panthers playing a non-conference team this weekend, that’s not mandatory so we’re left a little more in the dark.

The good news is that it didn’t seem like there were any major injuries coming out of the North Carolina game. However, the team does still have some injury news to watch for this week.

The latest injury news was surrounding starting linebacker Mike Caprara, who didn’t play against the Tar Heels with a ‘lower body injury.’ If you’re keeping score at home, Caprara is already the second key linebacker to miss time with Elijah Zeise out for the season. Head coach Pat Narduzzi said during his press conference this week that he expects Caprara to play.

Keep in mind, however, that Caprara was listed as probable for the North Carolina game and wound up not playing, so it’s hard to tell at this point. Plus, Craig Meyer of the Post-Gazette noted that Caprara and fellow linebacker Bam Bradley were wearing yellow jerseys at practice on Wednesday, meaning they weren’t full participants. Obviously something to watch going forward.

Another key thing here is that freshman cornerback Damar Hamlin could be on the field sooner rather than later. He’s been a full participant in practice per several media members on Twitter and seems like he could be ready to go soon. Pitt’s cornerbacks have struggled so far but the question is when Hamlin could be ready to play after having missed so much time.

Finally, on top of the season ending injuries, wide receiver Dontez Ford will obviously miss this one since he’s expected to be out for quite a while longer with his shoulder injury. Head coach Pat Narduzzi hasn’t commented much on Ford, but Ford’s high school coach did confirm that he underwent surgery earlier this month. His loss continues to hurt as the team hopes to improve upon its passing game.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley endures brutal hit, inspires time travel meme

Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley is known for his speed and toughness, but he also has a good sense of humor.Beasley took a vicious hit during Sunday night's game against the Bears. As Beasley came across the middle and made a catch, he was knocked back by Chicago safety Adrian Amos. 

>> Read more trending stories While Beasley was momentarily shaken up, he stayed in the game. The Cowboys won 31-17.A meme has popped up on Twitter showing that the hit was so hard, it sent Beasley traveling back in time. Beasley told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he and his wife were "dying laughing" after watching the clip and that it was one of the funniest videos he'd ever seen.

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett announce retirement

Former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce announced on The Players Tribune that this season will be his last as a player in the NBA. 

>> Read more trending stories  

"It's time to move on from the game of basketball," he wrote. "Just like any difficult decision, I think you've got to be at peace with yourself. I'm at peace with retiring, but I've got one more ride left. One more season. One more opportunity."

Pierce, 38, was originally selected by the Celtics in the first round of the 1998 draft, with the 10th overall pick. He played 15 seasons in Boston, winning a championship in 2008 and returning to the NBA Finals in 2010.

He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett in 2013 and spent one season in Brooklyn, before playing with the Wizards in 2015 and the Clippers in 2016. 

"After 18 NBA years, it's hard to believe I'll be playing in each arena for the last time," Pierce wrote. "So I'm going to enjoy every practice, every bus ride, every team dinner, every time running out through the tunnel. I'm going to do my part to give us a shot at the ultimate goal."

Pierce was named MVP of the NBA Finals in 2008,  when the Celtics beat the Lakers for the championship. He teamed with Garnett and Ray Allen to form "The Big Three" that led Boston to the title. 

He is a 10-time NBA All-Star. 

Pierce's announcement came three days after Garnett posted a video on Instagram, saying, "farewell" and "thank you" after 21 seasons in the NBA.

The Associated Press reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves plan to waive Garnett so he can collect all of his $8 million salary for next season.

"I'm just thankful, man. I can't ever put that into words. I'm just thankful," Garnett said in the video. "I'm just thankful for everybody, and the love, I never would've thought that people would love me like this, but for it to be reality is just something else. Man. We gonna be (all right), man. I don't expect this to be easy, but so far, so good. Stay tuned." 

To be continued... A video posted by Kevin Garnett (@tic_pix) on Sep 23, 2016 at 2:42pm PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are among other notable athletes who retired this year.

Tim Tebow homers in first professional at-bat

Football star turned baseball player Tim Tebow homered Wednesday in his first at-bat in the instructional league in Port St. Lucie, Florida. 

>> Read more trending stories  

Tebow, who signed a pro contract with the New York Mets organization, homered to left-center off left-hander John Kilichowski. Kilichowski is a member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. 

ESPN posted a video of the home run. 

Tebow, 29, is a 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback. 

The 255-pound outfielder received a $100,000 bonus when he signed with the Mets in an arrangement that allows him to maintain his commitment as an analyst for the ESPN-owned SEC Network.

Before signing with the Mets, Tebow hadn't played organized baseball since 2005 during his junior year at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA Today reported.

David Ortiz writes heartfelt letter to Yankees fans

David Ortiz, known by fans as Big Papi, will play his final game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. 

Hours before playing at the stadium on Tuesday, Ortiz released an open letter to Yankees fans that made many loyal Red Sox fans love him even more. 

Published in The Players Tribune, the letter is titled, "Thanks for the Memories, New York," and in it, Ortiz tells Yankee fans that he has a love for them. 

>> Read more trending stories  

"When I came to this country, and I was trying to make it to the big leagues, I looked at guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and I was almost in awe," Ortiz wrote. "When I got to play against the Yankees my first few years, I would watch some of the things Jeter would do in the field like I was just a fan.

"I learned a lot from watching DJ. I never got to tell him that when he was playing, but I did. The way he handled his business, and how much respect he had for this game, it made me want to be a better player.

"For real, I looked forward to hitting doubles against the Yankees so I could get to second base and say, 'What's up?' to DJ."

Ortiz, 40, wrote that the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox is part of what made playing baseball fun for him. 

"Our rivalry with the Yankees made me who I am," he wrote. "The intensity of that competition is what I'm gonna miss the most when I'm done. I could wake up in the morning and my body could be feeling (bad), but as soon as the bus pulls up to Yankee Stadium and I see that white fence on the upper deck, I'm like, 'It's on.'"

While he was growing up in the Dominican Republic, Ortiz said everyone not only wanted to go to New York, but they rooted for the Yankees. 

"We looked at New York City like the American dream," he wrote. "The Yankees were like a symbol of everything. If you wore a Yankees hat, maybe your cousin or uncle sent it down to you from New York, and it was like that hat was a symbol of everything you were dreaming to be."

Ortiz said that he was able to bring his mother to New York City while he was playing in the minor leagues in 1997, but she died in a car accident before he became a part of the Red Sox. 

"My life has turned out amazing, but the only thing I wish is that she could be here for all this. When I take the field at Yankee Stadium for the last time, she's not gonna be there to see it. That's kind of tough, to be honest with you. But I know she would be so proud that we made it to the top of the world."

And even though he grew up loving New York, he said that's not where he belongs.

"Boston is not just my team. Boston is my city," he wrote. "I consider myself a Bostonian, and it’s the thing I’m most proud of in the world.

"The Red Sox let me be me. You see my beard? The Yankees wouldn’t let me have that beard. I'd be shaving twice a day. But it goes beyond that. The Red Sox let me say what I feel. They let me be myself. If I was a Yankee, I'd be just like my boy, DJ."

Ortiz ended the letter by thanking Yankee fans, but promising that he's bringing his all to his final games at Yankee Stadium. 

"When our bus pulls up to Yankee Stadium today, I'm gonna be ready to go," he wrote. "And when I hear you boo me, I'm gonna try to hit the ball over that white fence, all the way to the ... choo choo train.

"Respect."

Ortiz also told The New York Times that over the course of his 20-year career, Yankee Stadium has been one of his favorite places to play.

"Yankee Stadium -- it might be my favorite place to hit, to play, regardless," he said. "The dimensions are perfect for a left-handed power hitter. All the emotions, all the adrenaline, all the competition -- competing against the Yankees has been outstanding."

Ortiz has a lifetime .970 on-base slugging percentage against the Yankees, according to The New York Times.

But despite Ortiz's respect for the Yankees, ending the season doesn't mean getting praise from the team's fans. He wants and expects to be booed.

"When you get used to something and you do well with it, you just don't want to change it," he said. "Basically, I'm so used to them booing me when I step on the field. It feels weird when it doesn't happen."

Read Ortiz's full letter at The Players Tribune and read more at The New York Times.

Quadree Henderson leads NCAA D-I in all-purpose yardage

Quadree Henderson has come almost out of nowhere to become a major contributor to Pitt's football team in 2016. The Pitt wide receiver has done so much in so many places that he actually leads the entire NCAA in D-I in terms of total all purpose yardage.

Henderson has racked up an incredible 825 total yards already through either receptions, rushes, and kick/punt return yards. That's good enough for first in D-I and his 206.25 yards per game are good enough for third in the nation.

One of the impressive things about Henderson being so high up on the list is the number of total plays he's been involved in compared to the two guys ahead of him on the per game average list - Heisman contender Christian McCaffrey and Donnel Pumphrey, the nation's leading rusher. Henderson has had 'only' 48 touches while McCaffrey has had twice as many touches (96) and Pumphrey has 82.

In a nutshell, those guys are barely beating him in per game average with many more opportunities. If you gave Henderson another 40 touches or so and there's no telling how much yardage he would have piled up.

Sure, much of the damage that Henderson has done has been on special teams. But that's also part of what makes him so dynamic. He has one kickoff return for a touchdown and has had a few long returns and gives Pitt a constant threat to break a game wide open. And while he has only 126 receiving yards, Henderson has also done a lot of damage as a runner with 260 rushing yards. He's the team's second leading rusher behind only James Conner and, considering how much we all talked up the running back depth on this team, that's pretty astonishing. Those 260 yards put him at No. 87 in the nation overall - and he's a wide receiver.

Pitt doesn't yet have the go to receiver that they lost in Tyler Boyd. But Henderson is doing more than his fair share of contributing and helping the Panthers' offense make plays.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt vs. Marshall: Breaking Down the Two-Deep

Looking at Pitt’s depth chart for Saturday’s game with Marshall.

Quarterback - 1. Nate Peterman 2. Manny Stocker

Nate Peterman started out strong on Saturday against North Carolina. He was 13-14 and was managing the game very well. I’m not sure who to blame for his fourth quarter play. Is it him? Is Matt Canada playing it conservative with Peterman? Is Narduzzi making that call? It’s all too strange. Either way, Peterman was 1-4 in the fourth quarter, his only competition was on a screen to Conner.

Look, I’m not in the blame Nate Peterman game. He is what he is. All I know is, Pitt needs to convert third downs late in games. The offense is scoring points, but they need to carry extra weight since the defense is so bad. Another play or two by the offense doesn’t put the defense in that position.

Running Back - 1. James Conner 2. Chawntez Moss OR Darrin Hall OR Qadree Ollison

James Conner had another strong game last week, and is putting together a nice season. One noticeable addition to Conner’s game is catching the ball. He now leads Pitt in both rushing and receiving yards. His added versatility is a nice plus.

Chawntez Moss is starting to look like the second back on the team. He had seven carries for 47 yards against the Tar Heels. He came in for a series early in the third quarter and made some nice plays, including a 13 yard run in which he was carrying defenders. He looks very good for a true freshmen.

Darrin Hall was third among the running backs with six carries (19 yards) while last season’s ACC Rookie of the Year, Qadree Ollison, was limited to just two carries for five yards. Not sure if Moss will continue to take carries from these guys, but for now he seems to be in the coaching staff’s good graces.

Fullback - 1. George Aston 2. Jaymar Parrish

George Aston is slowing becoming a cult hero. He scored his third touchdown of the season against the Tar Heels. Aston runs surprising well for a former walk-on. He’s come up with some big plays, and is really a fan favorite already.

Wide Receiver - 1. Jester Weah Quadree Henderson 2. Aaron Mathews OR Zach Challingsworth Tre Tipton 3. Rafael Araujo-Lopes

Qaudree Henderson is first nationally in total all-purpose yards, and is third in yards per game average behind only Christian McCaffrey and San Diego State star, Donnel Pumphrey. Henderson hauled in only three catches against the Tar Heels, but posted 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career. The jet-sweep by Matt Canada has been a revelation of sorts, and has confused teams for three straight weeks, all the while making Quadree Henderson one of the best weapons in college

Jester Weah chipped in one catch for 14 yards. Tre Tipton came down with three receptions for 18 yards, and Araujo-Lopes had one catch for seven yards. It appears these are the three players alongside Henderson that will anchor the receivers. They need more from the passing game in general, and these guys need to get open to make some plays.

Tight End - 1. Scott Orndoff 2. Jaymar Parrish

Scott Orndoff had nine catches in the first two weeks, and just had one since. He recorded zero catches against North Carolina. Orndoff is a solid weapon, and one I think Pitt should utilize more. We’ll see if he can get into the mix against Marshall.

Surprisingly, Jaymar Parrish hauled in a 22 yard catch against North Carolina. You don’t normally think of Parrish being a downfield receiving threat, but he made a big play.

LT - 1. Adam Bisnowaty 2. Aaron Reese

LG - 1. Dorian Johnson 2. Carson Baker

C - 1. Alex Officer 2. Connor Dintino

RG - 1. Alex Bookser 2. John Guy

RT - 1. Brian O’Neill 2. Jaryd Jones-Smith

You can’t ask much more from Pitt’s offensive line. They are controlling the line of scrimmage each and every week. Pitt is eating up the time of possession, and the rushing game ranks 15th nationally, and third in the ACC. Peterman generally has time to throw as well. They are fine, and just need to stay healthy.

DE - 1. Ejuan Price Rori Blair 2. Allen Edwards James Folston 3. Rashad Weaver

Ejuan Price is second in the country in sacks and tackles for loss. He is tied for third in forced fumbles. Price had some big plays on Saturday against North Carolina including a tackle for loss on Ryan Switzer that caused a safety.

Blair came down with half a sack, and two tackles against North Carolina. The Tar Heels got rid of the ball quickly, and it seemed like the pass rush was hard to get going consistently.

DT - 1. Shakir Soto 2. Keyshon Camp OR Amir Watts

I thought Shakir Soto had a very strong game on Saturday. He had four tackles, with one of them going for a loss. It’s hard to always judge how a defensive tackle plays, but I thought he made his impact felt. Overall, his move inside has been a positive in my eyes.

NT - 1. Tyrique Jarrett 2. Shane Roy OR Mike Herndon

It’s not always about the stats with a nose tackle. He’s there to clog the middle. North Carolina was held to 18 yards on 22 carries this past week. While Pitt’s pass defense is in shambles, the run defense has been pretty good. It’s just a bit overshadowed a bit.

Money Linebacker - 1. Mike Caprara 2. Saleem Brightwell

Caprara was out Saturday and is still listed as the starter anyway, but his backup Saleem Brightwell was on the field quite a bit. Brightwell was active with a sack, a fumble recovery, and pass breakup to go along with five tackles. He was a recruit many were excited about out of high school, perhaps he gets himself into the mix more each and every week.

Mike Linebacker - 1. Matt Galambos 2. Quintin Wirginis

Matt Galambos had four tackles, while Wirginis chipped in with three. Wirginis recorded his second sack of the season as well. Again as I mentioned above, the run defense was solid. The defense got some pressure on the quarterback as well, but this pass defense is among the worst in the country.

Star Linebacker - 1. Seun Idowu 2. Bam Bradley

This spot was a problem on Saturday. It kept getting matched with a slot receiver, and Idowu was not up to the task. Narduzzi keeps mentioning he won’t change personnel, but this isn’t working out too well. I believe they miss Elijah Zeise here.

Cornerback - 1. Avonte Maddox Ryan Lewis 2. Dane Jackson Phillipie Motley

Not much to say here, we’ve been watching it for three weeks now.

Strong Safety - 1. Jordan Whitehead 2. Dennis Briggs

I thought Whitehead was better against North Carolina than the Oklahoma State, although the bar was rather low for that. Whitehead led the team with 12 tackles, and had a forced fumble on a big hit in the first quarter. The pass coverage is on the entire secondary, but fewer big plays seems to happen when Whitehead is near.

Free Safety - 1. Terrish Webb 2. Reggie Mitchell

This position has been a letdown this season given their experience.

Kicker - Chris Blewitt Punter - Ryan Winslow Long Snapper - Pat Quirin

Chris Blewitt nailed a 50 yard field goal and a 40 yard field goal, while also going a perfect 4/4 from extra points. He turned his season around rather quickly after a very poor start.

Kick/Punt Returner - 1. Quadree Henderson 2. Avonte Maddox

Be honest, there was a split second you thought Henderson was going the whole way with two seconds left.

King of the Hill: ACC Football Power Rankings (Week 4)

Here’s a look at this week’s updated rankings

Here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings.

The big dilemma for me was trying to figure out what to do with Pitt. They sit at only 2-2 but have suffered some really late losses and were in position to win both road games.

Ultimately, I kept them at No. 7 but went back and forth a bit between that spot and No. 8 where 3-1 Georgia Tech resides. Tech’s narrow win against Boston College earlier this year coupled with a three-score loss to Clemson at home was enough for me to slot them just behind the Panthers.

Still not buying into the Wake Forest hype train just yet with their four wins against Tulane, Duke, Delaware, and Indiana.

Let me know what I got right/wrong in the comments. Previous week’s ranking is in parentheses.

  1. Louisville (1) / 4-0: 31-point beatdown against Marshall
  2. Clemson (3) / 4-0: After a slow start to the season, Clemson moves up a spot with a nice 26-7 win over Georgia Tech
  3. Miami (2) / 3-0: Hurricanes were idle
  4. Florida State (4) / 3-1: 55-35 win over South Florida
  5. North Carolina (5) / 3-1: 37-36 win over Pitt
  6. Virginia Tech (9) / 3-1: Another blowout win for Hokies with 54-17 victory over East Carolina
  7. Pitt (7) / 2-2: Narrow loss to Tar Heels keeps Panthers at No. 7
  8. Georgia Tech (6) / 3-1: 19-point loss to Clemson drops Yellow Jackets down two spots
  9. Wake Forest (10) / 4-0: Demon Deacons still perfect after 33-28 win over Indiana
  10. North Carolina State (8) / 2-1: Idle Wolfpack drop two spots after other teams stepped up
  11. Duke (11) / 2-2: 38-35 win over a struggling Notre Dame team
  12. Boston College (12) / 2-2: 42-10 rout over Wagner
  13. Syracuse (13) / 2-2: 31-24 win over UConn
  14. Virginia (14) / 1-3: 49-35 win over Central Michigan
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

More talk of Jamel Artis at point guard

Pitt basketball could move their small forward for this season

Earlier this year, there was quite a bit of discussion after some comments made by Pitt forward Jamel Artis about possibly playing point guard for the team this season. Head coach Kevin Stallings not only reiterated that, but also says Artis is actually the favorite to win that job:

Kevin Stallings told @CBSSports that Jamel Artis is currently the favorite to be Pitt's starting point guard this season.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 26, 2016

Artis playing point isn’t surprising news since that was stated back in July. But this is the first I’ve seen of Stallings saying he’s the leader to win that job.

Now, how much he plays there is up for debate. Stallings, in fact, said recently that he would play ‘some’ point guard.

Pitt, of course, lost long-time starter James Robinson to graduation this past season and needs a replacement. There are options, such as sophomore Damon Wilson and upperclassman Jonathan Milligan. In addition, there’s Crisshawn Clark and incoming freshman Justice Kithcart. But the one thing Artis in that spot would allow is for the Panthers’ to field a bigger lineup. Pitt could even conceivably have a massive backcourt if they decided to start Cameron Johnson at shooting guard. I’m not sure that happens with Chris Jones there, but you get my point. Some combination of Artis, Jones/Johnson, and say, Sheldon Jeter, Ryan Luther, and Michael Young, gives the team quite a bit of height.

It’s going to be interesting how this shakes out. One concern of mine was that Artis could lose some of his scoring focus, which has been crucial for the team at times, if he’s worried about running the offense. But perhaps that’s made up for with the development of guys like Johnson and Luther. In addition, Stallings said in that linked Trib article that he wants Artis to be a ‘scoring’ point guard and not just setting up players/running the offense. That gives me some form of confidence in knowing that Stallings realizes how important he is as a scorer.

Also keep in mind that this is something that could help Artis’ draft stock. Currently, he’s more of a fringe guy as an undrafted free agent, but a bit year could easily vault him into the second round. Don’t forget, Lamar Patterson was completely off the radar before his senior season when he worked his way into the NBA Draft. If Artis is able to show off his ballhandling and playmaking abilities, that will give scouts another reason to keep him on their radar. He wouldn’t be a point guard in the NBA but those abilities would help him get noticed.

Again, we’ll have to wait and see how this all shakes out. At the very least, it sounds as if Stallings is planning on shaking things up quite a bit with an established roster.

Something to watch for the upcoming season.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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