As Bitcoin Rises, Bitcoin Sportsbooks Regain Their Shine

As bitcoin settles in around the $630 range after falling to $500 earlier this year, the benefits of using sportsbooks who deal only in bitcoin once again is spotlighted. Players with accounts at bitcoin sportsbooks like Betcoin.ag reaped the rewards of the price rise. Players who bet at fiat-based books reaped nothing at all.

The reasons are simple. Fiat-based sportsbooks accepting bitcoin immediately convert that coin into dollars at the market price and force the customer to bet in fiat currency. When cashing out, the book will convert the winnings back to bitcoin, again at the current market price, and send that bitcoin to the customer.

What this means is the player is vulnerable to the bitcoin market price. A customer who sent in four bitcoin to a fiat sportsbook when the price was $500 received $2000 into his account. If the customer, after breaking even in his bets, wanted to cash out that $2000 when the bitcoin price was $630, he would have suffered a loss. Instead of receiving four bitcoins when cashing out, he would have received just 3.17 bitcoins.

Such an example highlights the pros and cons of using books like 5Dimes and Bookmaker as your main outs. Not only are you gambling on the games, you are gambling on the price of bitcoins. A price rise after you deposit bitcoin will hurt you. A price decline will help. It’s nice to sell $600 of bitcoin to a sportsbook when you can buy one back for $500 after the price falls. But it adds an element to sports betting that most players would prefer to avoid.

Enter the bitcoin only sportsbooks like Betcoin.ag. Betcoin.ag only accepts and pays out in bitcoin. When you send in one bitcoin, you get 1,000 credits into your account. When you try to cash out those 1,000 credits, you get one bitcoin back, regardless of the price of bitcoin.

There are also other benefits to Betcoin.ag vs. other sportsbooks. Betcoin.ag offers reduced juice to most football games. Laying 107 to win 100 adds up when compared to 110 to win 100 like Bookmaker and 5Dimes charge. Betcoin.ag also doesn’t require any personal information from its customers. You send in your money, you start playing. You can remain anonymous if you choose to do so, no longer having to send in copies of your electric bill or driver’s license if you want to withdraw your money.

Betcoin.ag offers a wide range of games for its players. In addition to sports betting, you can also play poker or a variety of casino games. And when you win, you get paid quickly. Bitcoin users have long been spoiled with quick transactions and demand nothing less from their sportsbooks. Sportsbooks like Betcoin.ag, part of the bitcoin culture, understand this. They know quick payouts, in hours not days, are needed to be successful in the bitcoin world. Fiat bookmakers like Bookmaker and 5Dimes, after years of using third parties to handle payouts, are incapable of thinking that way. A quick payout to those books is one day, not one hour.

NBA Commish Holds State of the Game Press Conference

Adam Silver, the bald man who is also commissioner of the NBA, gave a State of the Game press conference today in New York. He spoke about the collective bargaining agreement, reseeding the playoffs after each round, and competitive balance, among other things.

ADAM SILVER: Two personal notes I want to open up with. One is we lost this morning Drew Sharp, longtime beat writer for the Pistons with the Detroit Free Press, great friend of many people in this room and people at the league. So from the NBA family, our condolences go out to Drew’s family. And also to my friend Jeff Zillgitt, who for the media assembled here today is almost always with you. He’s had a course of bad luck and is recovering from recent surgery. To my friend Jeff, if you’re watching, hello from all your friends at the league, and we look forward to having you back as soon as possible.

And now for the business at hand. We just finished two days of meetings with our Board of Governors, a series of committee meetings yesterday and a general session with all of our owners and another general session today. Both the meetings were extremely productive. We have very engaged owners. I’ve said it before here, but I think I’m very fortunate to have such a diverse and deep set of owners who bring expertise in media, international affairs, arena operations, of course basketball operations. They share that information with other owners and team personnel along with league staff. It’s been a great exchange, and so from that standpoint, the meetings were very successful.

The topics that were covered, and again, I’ll be happy to answer your questions. Labor relations. A report was given by our general counsel Rick Buchanan along with Dan Rube on the progress of our collective bargaining negotiations. We heard about basketball operations from Byron Spruell, our new president of league operations. Kiki VanDeWeghe is here as well, runs basketball operations for the league. Our deputy commissioner, Mark Tatum, spoke about international — I promised I wasn’t going to do this list and now I’m doing this list. It was a lot of presentations at the meeting. I’m now officially leaving people out, but it was all very interesting. We had a lot of back and forth with the owners on those topics, and as I said, I think one of the best things that we’re seeing in this league is an exchange of information among owners and team personnel. So from that standpoint, they were successful meetings.

Having said that, I think it’s best just to get to all of your questions. Thank you all for being here on a rainy day, and fire away.

Q. Adam, there have been a lot of reports about progress in the collective bargaining agreement talks. What can you tell us on that? Some people might have expected perhaps an agreement in principle even as soon as today. Anything that you can shed some light on in terms of those negotiations?
ADAM SILVER: Sure. The reports are largely accurate. We’ve made tremendous progress. I’m pleased to report, as I’ve said earlier, that I think the process here that we’ve engaged in with the Players Association has been different, frankly, from past rounds of negotiations.

I think there’s tremendous respect from both sides, very engaged Labor Relations Committee from the NBA standpoint, and the same with the Executive Committee from the Players Association. The president of the Players Association, Chris Paul, together with Michele Roberts, the executive director, have led their negotiating team, and we’ve systematically gone through all aspects of the CBA. We’ve had subcommittees that have met extensively over the last several months, and our most recent meeting on Wednesday I thought continued that same spirit of cooperation and was very productive.

We are not done-done, as we say, as bargainers in terms of ultimately having a completed collective bargaining agreement. But we’re on our way toward getting an extension done of this collective bargaining agreement, and I’m very pleased to report that. Hopefully we will be back to all of you in the not-too-distant future to say that negotiations have been completed, but we’re not quite there yet. But I continue to be optimistic.

Q. Just to follow up, this will be the first CBA with your name on it as commissioner and Michele Roberts as executive director of the union. Has that played a role in this at all? People have speculated that, well, somebody is going to want to win to make their bones or to get the better of the struggle. Can you talk about that dynamic?
ADAM SILVER: Yeah. Again, I’ve been at the league for a long time, and so I’ve been at the negotiating table for several cycles of collective bargaining under David Stern. But you’re right, it’s a little bit different now being the commissioner, and Michele is new in her job.

I would say what’s different is from Day One, we both tried to establish a tonality, a process in which there would be transparency and in which there would be respect from both sides. Michele’s word is we both agreed to be “adults” in this process, and again, the players have been terrific in coming to these meetings, a trusted environment where people felt they could share their point of view in an honest and direct way. We’ve continued the tradition started multiple cycles in the past of sharing complete financial information with the union.

There hasn’t been agreement on everything. I think there’s been a healthy back and forth, but I think it’s begun from a basis of trust. I credit Michele Roberts enormously with coming in with that perspective, with being very professional about how she and her colleagues and the players went about this negotiation.

Relationships are critically important. I’ve learned that in this job — relationships with my counterparts at the union, relationships with players and relationships with owners. So from that standpoint there has been a little bit different feel in the room. Maybe it’s just a product of changed times as well.

Also let me just single out one owner in particular, Michael Jordan. I think having Michael Jordan as part of our negotiating committee, I think the unique perspective he brings to the bargaining table because of his playing career, having been, of course, a superstar player. Now for players to see him in that position, it doesn’t mean that if Michael says it, it necessarily means that they accept that as the position they should take. But I think that’s really added a special element unique to this league, to have a superstar player like that owning a team now and being part of these discussions.

I think that added an enormous amount to the atmosphere in the room, and same goes for these players. I think that the Players Association — the players coming together and choosing to have an All-Star player like Chris Paul as president of the union, again, LeBron [James] has been directly involved in these negotiations, Carmelo Anthony, James Jones has played a very active role, Kyle Korver was at a meeting recently this week.

Again, this is my 25th year in the NBA, and one of the changes I’ve seen over the years is that the players have become much more sophisticated about the business of the league. I credit their union with doing a terrific job informing them of the issues. I think they’ve become businessmen in their own right. Obviously the value of their contracts and endorsements have gone up considerably, but I think all of that has led to more, sort of as a business negotiation.

I’ll say that when you have someone like Michael Jordan now on the owners’ side of the table, we all remember the old slogan from when Michael was a player of “Be like Mike.” I think there’s the sense now for the players that that’s yet another area where they want to be like Mike. Look what he’s done, taking sort of his success on the floor and translated that into being an incredibly successful businessman. If you look what many of the players I mentioned earlier have been able to do off the floor in their own careers, I think this is yet another area.

By the way, it’s very healthy for the league to have that virtuous cycle of from player potentially to management, whether that comes as a coach or a GM or working in the front office or being a business partner in the NBA, and then continuing that cycle to owner. I think that allows players to sort of see another side of the business, to put themselves in the owners’ shoes in terms of what their desires are in the business, whether that’s a combination of the ability to run a successful business and to win, and of course with Michael Jordan in the room, he clearly can put himself in a player’s shoes, but also when we’re meeting privately, he can help represent the players’ perspective to the owners.

I think it’s very, very healthy in terms of the business, and I also credit a lot of our success most recently of the league to that true sense of partnership between the players and the owners.

Q. Adam, there had been some concern over the summer, which you addressed in July after the Board of Governors meeting, about the cap spike and its impact on competitive balance. Do you anticipate or can you say whether the CBA, as you guys are discussing it now, is going to have some new measures in there to try to preserve the competitive balance that you guys have talked about now and in the past and specifically maybe to prevent another cap spike?
ADAM SILVER: I won’t speak specifically to it because it’s an ongoing negotiation. My view remains the same as it was this summer in terms of desire to have a competitively balanced league. Again, it’s our responsibility at the league to try to create a system that creates a distribution of talent around the league. Just to clarify, it doesn’t mean that in any way Kevin Durant did something wrong by going to the Warriors. That was his right as a free agent to make that choice, just as it was the Warriors’ right to recruit him as a free agent.

But I have a different perspective than an individual team that’s trying to do everything it can to win championships. My perspective is to build competitive balance among 30 teams in this league. I also recognize, and this is something we talk about in closed doors during collective bargaining, that you can only legislate competitive balance to a certain extent, especially in this sport, when an individual player can have such an enormous impact on the fortunes of the team. This is a unique team sport in that you need that special team dynamic to win, yet at the same time individual players are so critically important.

We’re always trying to strike that right balance between a player’s right when he becomes a free agent to have that ability to make those individual decisions against sort of the league interest and balance. So those are all issues we continue to discuss as part of collective bargaining.

Q. Adam, two things: Number one, is it fair to say that the influx of the new TV money has significantly made this collective bargaining agreement easier than previous ones? And also, has there been any discussion about enhancing, changing in any significant way, the current revenue-sharing structure between owners?
ADAM SILVER: Well, the answer to your first question is yes, I think the fortunes of the league, the fact that there is more money to distribute among our players and teams, has created an atmosphere that makes it more conducive to continue a deal that looks a lot like the current deal. I think there is a sense across the table that we have a system that we both fought hard for in the last round of collective bargaining that for the most part is working pretty well.

I think that both sides would like to see some changes, maybe certain things that I think realistically each side realizes that if we want to get an extension done as opposed to all-out bargaining, it’s not realistic to make substantial changes to the deal. At the same time, there are certain things I would categorize as tweaks that we’re making.

The second part of your question was?

Q. Revenue sharing.
ADAM SILVER: And revenue sharing, as part of our current system, we agreed, the owners, that at the end of this year, we would revisit revenue sharing and take a fresh look at how the current system is operating. My expectation is we will do that, but that speaking now from an owner’s standpoint, I think that system is largely working as well, that we’ve built in the right amount of revenue turnover, but keeping appropriate incentives for teams to be generating as much revenue as they can.

Q. Adam, you’ve talked numerous times how proud you are of the NBA historically kind of being at the forefront of dealing with social issues and how the players have reacted. What would you like to see from your players next week with the national anthem when the season starts, and do you know if the players are organizing anything?
ADAM SILVER: I don’t know if the players are organizing anything. All I can say is what we’ve seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem. It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do. I think that what we have had — I think very constructive discussions directly with our players and their Players Association about meaningful action that we can take collectively in our communities to help build trust, whether it’s between police officers and members of the community, looking for constructive ways to address racial injustice, economic injustice. I’m very proud of the relationship we’ve built with the union and with the players on these issues.

My expectation is that we’ll see into the regular season more of what we’ve seen in the preseason, which is, again, a sense of let’s deal directly with these important issues.

Let me add to that. I’ve thought a lot about this, and Michele Roberts and I have talked a lot about these issues, that there may be no organization in our society better positioned than the NBA and its players to try to have an impact on these difficult issues plaguing many of our cities. So aside from discussions around the anthem, it’s my expectation that as we move beyond the collective bargaining process, we and the players together will continue to address these issues and look for opportunities where we really can make a difference.

Before there were issues around the anthem, I happened to be at the ESPYs this year out in Los Angeles when our four players stood up and made their point about the need for us to come together and work in our communities. We’ve tried to build on that. We’ve tried to build on their challenge, in essence, to everyone who was there that night to see what impact we can have, what impact they can have as individual athletes and how we can contribute to that as the league together with our teams.

Again, I think we are making progress. Kathy Behrens is here, who leads our social responsibility efforts. She’s been talking directly to players and her counterparts at the Players Association about a series of actions that we’re hopeful that we can take collectively as we move into this season.

Q. What did you think of how the WNBA playoffs played out with taking teams with the best records regardless of conference and then reseeding them after each round? Is any of that kind of thing still under discussion for the NBA?
ADAM SILVER: I thought the WNBA playoffs were terrific this year. I thought the basketball was fantastic. I thought the competition was great as well. We did try something new, to your point, in the WNBA in allowing teams from within conferences to reseed so that the best teams could meet in The Finals.

You know, one of the reasons we did it is so that we could see how it would operate and maybe potentially how it could impact how things work in the NBA. I will say that we considered doing something similar in the NBA a year ago. We made presentations to our owners and at our Competition Committee, and we ultimately concluded that with the 30-team league and the geographic distribution of our teams that it would not be better than our current system. There’s no question there would be certain advantages to doing it. But, as you all know, we’ve spent a lot more time in the last few years focused on the impact of travel, the impact of sleep deprivation on our players, and so it’s this constant balance of this notion of flying, crisscrossing the country in the first round, sort of the Boston-L.A., Boston-Portland first-round series. We’ve all sort of concluded that we’re better off having intraconference competition in our playoffs and then meeting in The Finals.

It’s one of these things that we’ll continue to look at. Unlikely to change in the short term, but as I said, we pay a lot of attention to how it’s worked in the WNBA, and I think in a smaller league and also with shorter series, less travel, it was very successful.

Q. As far as competitive balance in the league, obviously the predictions both inside and outside the league are that we’re going to have the same Finals again. That’s the heavy expectation. But it seems maybe like 3 through 8 in each conference seem pretty balanced. Are you satisfied with where things are, or do you worry about June more than October through April? How do you feel about where the NBA is right now in that regard?
ADAM SILVER: I’m very satisfied where things are right now. Even as I said over the summer, I don’t want to overreact to the Warriors’ situation, that you have individual circumstances of a player making the decision to join other great players. I think that as a league, we have to look at trends over longer periods of time. I think the competition, frankly, has been great.

I saw that [NBA.com] GM poll in terms of their predictions. I think there’s a fair amount of gamesmanship in some of those selections. When I talk to GMs individually, they’re not making quite the same predictions. So we’ll see.

I’m really excited going into the season. Obviously, the beginning of the season is right around the corner. I’ll be giving out the rings Tuesday night in Cleveland, and there are a lot of charged-up players in this league. There are a lot of teams, young teams in the development cycle, where I think they would even say realistically they’re unlikely to win the championship this season, but they’re on the road to winning a championship. I think there’s a very different sense around the league than where we were a few years ago where most of the questions were about teams who seemingly didn’t want to win. We’re not hearing that anymore.

I think in essence, as we said then, the marketplace would speak, and I think teams are realizing that they need a building strategy and that chemistry is critically important in this league, that coaching is critically important. You can’t create championship teams overnight.

So as I said, we’re a very different league than the NFL, for example, where — and I credit the NFL. It’s a combination of the game and the system they’ve created that has led to enormous parity in their league.

I think that in the NBA, we’ve looked at a lot of different systems, but I think given the impact that an individual player can have, it’s much more difficult to create that NFL-style parity. What we’ve always talked about in our league is equality of opportunity. And that is, does that opportunity come to teams, for example, regardless of market size, and I think that’s what we’ve tried to establish with our cap system and the other system elements that we spend a lot of time talking about. So a San Antonio Spurs can create a great franchise and go about it in the same way that a team in a large market would.

We’re far from the perfect system. It’s something, as we’ve gone through this collective bargaining cycle, we continue to talk about with the players. The players are divided a little bit as well because on one hand, they want that ability to be a free agent and to go wherever it is that they choose to play. On the other hand, they recognize that we’re going to have a better league if talent is distributed in a more equal fashion.

I’m always looking to improve things, but I love the style of play we’re seeing in the league right now. I think on any given night there’s always great action out there. I’m a big fan of our LEAGUE PASS product. I watch a lot of games on my smartphone and my tablet as well as my television, and there are great stories throughout the league. I’m looking forward to the season.

Cubs Tie It Up: Joe Maddon’s Post-game Press Conference

After scuffling with the bats the past two games, the Chicago Cubs came alive in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. The 10-2 victory tied up the series at 2-2. Cubs manager Joe Maddon spoke about his team after the game.

Q. Your club scuffled for two games scoring runs, and then you put the best defensive team you could on the field. It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it?
JOE MADDON: Yeah. That’s our team. You saw our team out there today. We scuffled in the beginning there. How about the bunt gets the whole thing rolling by your No. 4 hitter? How unlikely is that? We do that, Baez works a great at-bat, Contreras works a great at-bat. Heyward does what he needs to do, grounder to second. And then Addison got back to normal right there. So it’s contagious, just like the lack of it is contagious. When you start hitting, it’s contagious, defense, this whole game really follows itself, kind of. So I liked the team on the field. That’s the team that got all those wins this year, so I was very comfortable with it.

Q. Knowing that Rizzo and Russell have been such a big part of your offense all year, seeing each of them with three hits tonight, couple home runs and couple RBIs, does that give you the faith that this could be enough to break them out of it and get whatever weight was on their shoulders off?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. It should help their confidence, there’s no question about that. When you going through the moment they were, it’s a confidence issue. It always is. So going into tomorrow, I know when they show up at the ballpark, there’s going to be a good balance about them. Probably going to see the ball better, slow things down a little bit. Those kind of buzzwords that you’re always looking for when a guy starts swinging the bat well. But, yeah, more than anything, it’s about confidence, and I want to believe they’re going to show up tomorrow with a lot more confidence than they showed up with today.

Q. Can you talk about Mike Montgomery coming in with the bases loaded, getting out with minimal damage, and also helping himself in that sixth inning?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, actually, if he just gets his glove out of the way, he gets out of the inning. But he did a great job. The strikeout, Seager’s great ground ball, Turner, then eventually he escapes with no more runs. That was obviously very, very big for us. I want to leave in — as long as the score’s 5-2, he’s going to hit. There is no way to double-switch. I’m not going to double-switch at that point, and, yes, that’s a big knock to left field for him. Then, again, it opened up afterwards. But the pitching, getting him in there in that moment, once John walked two guys, John doesn’t normally walk people like that. So in comes Utley, Seager, Turner, Gonzalez, third time around. Again, it’s not like, you know, middle of June. It’s just you’ve got to play a little bit different from the pitching perspective. So we did, and it worked out.

Q. You had said you really wanted to score first tonight. How big were those two outs on the bases, the pickoff of Turner and then Heyward’s throw, and that appeal? And how did you see the appeal?
JOE MADDON: Just like you did, it was awkward. We thought that they may have called him safe. We really did. But I don’t know if it came down to it, but it’s that whole hovering over the top, you can’t tell whether that hand was over the top of the plate or not, and I think that’s what they had to go by. Because we’ve had it go against us at other times this year where it looked obvious to us one way and then it came out another. So it’s what it is. And how about Contreras’ pick at second? That was very large with Gonzalez hitting right there. It put a whole different feel or look on the game. He had himself quite a game behind the plate.

He’s a weapon. He’s a weapon, the way he throws the baseball. He’s not afraid. You could see. He’s fearless. The tag, just jumped out there, got a piece of Gonzalez, and then the pick at second. He had himself a pretty good night.

Q. You said it’s not the middle of June. You have to have a difference from a pitching perspective. Why doesn’t that go for a lineup when it’s struggling at this time of the year to be more kind of dynamic and just say, hey, this guy’s 1 for something, I’ve got to change it or something?
JOE MADDON: I think with that you just don’t have as many options, I would say. The guys that we had on the field tonight probably had the most at-bats. If you really break it down, probably best opportunity, in my mind’s eye. Now you could make an argument maybe for one guy, possibly. But, otherwise, this is our best lineup. We’ve had 103 wins. This is our lineup that got us to that particular juncture. We had two tough nights. So what? I can’t overreact for two tough nights. We changed it up a little bit yesterday.

Part of it is I want to keep Soler solvent regarding pinch-hitting, and he got his chance again to pinch-hit tonight. He had three at-bats. I think it was three yesterday. But basically is, I think, when it comes down to manipulation of the game or bullpen, when you’re talking about your bullpen, these guys are used to doing a whole bunch of different things daily, and they’re always involved. They just might have a different time of the game to be involved with right now.

Position players, I mean, Addison’s arguably one of the best shortstops in the league. Baez at second base. I don’t know why you would really necessarily want to. If you had more position players possibly. Like if the roster was larger, you might consider something like that, but these are your guys and they showed up tonight.

Q. Back to that bunt by Ben in the fourth. Is that something you guys talked about before the at-bat or was that just a head’s up play?
JOE MADDON: It’s always best when Manny does something extemporaneously. Whenever I give him a sign, it never works. So I’m glad he thought of it on his own.

Q. Just about Edwards, Jr., coming out of the game?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, it could have been a cramp. We’re not 100% sure yet. It wasn’t anything awful. I just talked to our trainer, and we’ve got to wait until tomorrow to see how he reacts to it. Talking to him in the clubhouse he described it as being less than mild. So hopefully it was just a cramp, and we’ll reevaluate tomorrow.

Q. Just kind of big picture on the series now. It’s two out of three, and you look at the pitchers that are lined up to pitch on both sides. What should anybody expect from here?
JOE MADDON: What you’ve seen so far. It’s been a pretty interesting series to this point. I did not expect it to be such a lopsided victory for us today. Although they had theirs yesterday. Moving forward, Jon, and then Kershaw waiting in the wings. Like I said, it’s two out of three right now. We know it’s at least going back home at some point. Tomorrow will be a pretty nice day to come out on top and going back home, having to win one of two. We’ve been pretty good at Wrigley all year. So, it’s just an interesting baseball series, man. I think it’s great. I think it’s great for baseball. I’ve talked about this the other day. I think if you’re looking to garner new fans, this is a great venue for that. Kids are watching on TV, and it’s very exciting. It’s very exciting stuff.

Michigan St. Football: Maryland Up Next

COACH DANTONIO: Next focus is University of Maryland. Going there to play a 7:30 night game. That will be our next challenge.

I was walking through obviously the football facility yesterday. Spend a lot of time there lately. Walked down the hallway where all of our bowl jerseys are hanging that have been won that we’ve been involved with the last nine years, all the NFL players that have gone on. It just sort of hit me a little bit where we are right now relative to where we’ve been.

I think the most important thing to recognize is that wherever we’re going, is to try to get back to that point, continue to compete, continue to build into the players in terms of what we’re trying to do, concentrate on fundamentals, get our younger players ready to go, along with our older players, same thing.

Competition I believe is something that every competitor in every sport, business, school or anything, they have to deal with things, sudden changes at times, they have to deal with things that aren’t going quite so well. When those things happen, you sort of return to what allows you to get to these places in the first place, which has always been toughness, effort and knowledge of what we have to do. We’ll build on that, maintain our focus.

I’ll take some questions.

Q. Last week you called this place a sanctuary for your players. How have you seen them react personally during this time?
COACH DANTONIO: First of all, I think young people are resilient. I think they bounce back a lot quicker probably than coaches and other people that do this for a living.

Our guys get themselves right, they get themselves ready to go. They’re in the training room, weight room. We monitor everything, how meetings are, what is the attitude in meetings, what is the attitude in the weight room, in the training room. At every turn it’s been a positive thing.

Talked to our players yesterday individually, some of our older players, how is our football team doing mentally, those type of things. You’re checking the pulse of our football team.

Thus far I would say, hey, we’re hanging. You got to be a rock to play this game. You have to be a rock in the first place. As I’ve said before, we’ve won a ton of games. I think you got to be a rock. You have to be.

Bad things are going to happen. That’s going to be a part of your life. Everybody goes through struggles. Everyone goes through struggles. All you got to do is turn on the TV, whether you’re watching sports or whether you’re watching something else, people have to handle problems. So that’s our mindset. That’s what we have to do, and that’s what we will do.

Q. You referenced competition. Copeland over Josh. Josh played a lot in the second half. Is that an example of maybe the competition brings out a little more in various positions?
COACH DANTONIO: I think first of all players need to compete within our football team certainly. But I was talking more about big picture, competing in football games, competing in the next challenge that’s in front of us.

But we’re obviously going to have some depth chart moves as we go through this. I don’t think there’s any question that that happens. You got to continue to press on and there’s got to be focus. There also has to be pressure, not bad pressure, but pressure, not stress, but pressure on our players to perform, as well. I think that’s part of this, too.

Q. You’ve obviously got the nine-year bowl streak since you started here. How important is that to you and this program? Is that a rallying cry?
COACH DANTONIO: I think absolutely it is. It’s something we’ve done every year. We’ve sort of taken it for granted. I don’t think you can obviously take things for granted right now. We’re a 2-4 football team. Again, we got to find the inches. We’ve been able to do that.

In some ways a lot of you guys, media, people around, have said we always play with a chip on our shoulder. We need to assume that that chip is not there and put it there, I guess, if that’s the case.

Always sort of thought that we challenged each other, challenged ourselves individually to be our very best at game time. That needs to come out again.

But it has to be results oriented, too.

Q. I asked you about this at the Cotton Bowl. Saban said you were ‘stubborn’ and that you wouldn’t change. After the BYU game, Mike Mulholland said BYU didn’t see anything new they didn’t expect. I know you self-scout. Are you concerned about your team becoming in certain cases predictable or is that maybe hyperbole?
COACH DANTONIO: I think it’s hyperbole. There are always wrinkles, as I said last week. I guess we could say we run the triple option, maybe Maryland will get ready for that, okay? But you just can’t change and overhaul something that you’ve done, especially if you’ve been good at it.

So what we have done is we have put players in positions to make plays. What we’ve done is taken relative schemes we use offensively and defensively, we’ve had tremendous success doing these things.

So I don’t think you go away from what you’ve been successful at and all of a sudden say, Hey, we’re going to change that, that’s no longer important, we’re going to do these things.

We have to make sure the things we do have a foundation behind them so our players can know what to do and play fast. The problem right now is sometimes our players aren’t playing fast. I watched Josh King, who is going to be a phenomenal player. He comes off the edge in the game on Saturday. He’s just young. Comes off the edge, before he gets hit on a wham block, a block coming back from the tight end, he fixes his helmet in the middle of a play.

Well, you can’t do that. That’s just a very small thing. But you have to be able to know what you’re doing, play fast, and execute whatever it is, whether it’s playing the deep ball, running a route, throwing a route, pass protection. Whatever it is, you’ve got to be able to do those things at a rapid rate and aggressively.

That’s what we need to concentrate on and be fundamentally sound. That’s what wins football games, fundamentals.

Q. Looking at the quarterback situation, it’s down to two guys now. Is Damion completely out of the mix? What is the situation between those two? What was your evaluation on Monday with the guys?
COACH DANTONIO: No, Damion is not out of the mix in terms of playing. He had a little hand issue last week. We held him. We went with the other two. We’ll see how the practices work out this week. We’ll make some determinations as we go, sort of go from there.

As far as my speaking to our quarterbacks, that’s an in-house thing. I spoke to all of our quarterbacks, make sure everybody was in good shape mentally.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH DANTONIO: Probably be more game time decision, yeah.

Q. Mark, lost in a lot of this is R.J. Shelton having a fantastic senior season. Where has the development been there with him that’s allowed him to take this step?
COACH DANTONIO: I think R.J. has always been a guy that has a lot of athletic ability. He’s always been a guy that’s made plays for us going back to 2013 as a true freshman. He made big plays for us. ’14, ’15, same thing.

Now he’s in his fourth year. He’s a go-to guy a little bit. He’s become a little bit more a big-play guy. I think that’s shown.

He’s got experience. He’s very confident. He’s made catches on the deep ball. He’s made runs. He’s done a lot of different things for us. He’s been very productive.

Q. Maryland has undergone some changes since you played them last. Would you discuss both sides of the ball, what you see from them offensively and defensively, please.
COACH DANTONIO: From a defensive perspective, I think you see a lot of what Coach Durkin did at U of M. You see a lot of press coverage, a lot of different pressures with middle-of-the-field safety. They are going to play a variety of different coverages. They have an extensive nickel package. I think he’s got his guys playing hard.

On the offensive side of the ball, they’ve had an injury at quarterback. They used a freshman quarterback this last game. Whether he plays or not will probably be a game time decision, up to them.

But variety of runningbacks that they use. I think their wide receivers are talented. They’ve not thrown the ball as effectively as they wanted to due to injuries, freshman quarterback, a little bit. 4-0 start. They have the makings of a good football team.

We’ll play hard. We’ll play hard. That will be our challenge, to play hard and get ourselves mentally ready to go.

Q. Dennis Finley at guard now. Is he progressing to where he can play a little bit more? What brought the change to moving him inside?
COACH DANTONIO: David Beedle will not play this week. He’s out. I think that’s probably a well-known fact.

Dennis, I think he’s to that point. I think he’s ready to go. He needs to get confident again, I think, in terms of being able to play at game time, at this level at game time. But he’s played before. He’s got the experience. We got to get him going.

Q. You talked earlier about the spirit of the team right now. Is this unchartered territory for you and the team with where you are right now?
COACH DANTONIO: For me?

Q. And the team.
COACH DANTONIO: No, not for me. I’ve been there before. Hopefully won’t be there again. But who knows.

But I think everybody goes through these things at some point, whether it’s an injury that sets you back or whether you lose a game that sets you back, whether you don’t quite play as well, somebody else takes over your position for a short time, whatever it is.

There are always setbacks in life, like I said. I think the thing we have to do, we have to handle that and compete.

As far as our football team, I really can’t remember 2009, how we started. I know that ’09 and ’12 were difficult seasons. But at some point in time we turned it a little bit, scrapped.

At this point in time we’re just going to become a team that’s going to scrap. That’s my intent. Let’s get on with that first. So we’ll be all in. We will be all in. That’s all I can tell you.

Q. Can you look back at the fourth quarter play calling. Seems like things opened up a little bit more for what you wanted to do. Is that more what you want to do on offense or is that simply the nature of the score and the need to get back in it that late?
COACH DANTONIO: I think in the fourth quarter, it became a little bit more of a passing game. We needed to be able to run the ball more effectively than we did on Saturday.

We have good tailbacks. They need to become a little bit more of our production, I would say. We have to be able to maintain that. That’s what we’ve always done. Not wanting to do what we’ve always done, but it’s been a strength of ours. We have to maintain that that has to reoccur.

Q. With Jon Reschke having been out and it progressing till later in the year, at what point will you consider keeping him out and using it as a medical down the road?
COACH DANTONIO: I guess that’s something that we have to talk about when he comes back. I’m not sure when he’ll be back. He’s not going to be back in the next couple weeks. That is probably the likelihood. He’s been an outstanding player for us.

Q. Special teams, I know it’s been an issue at different points during the year. Do you think right now it’s a matter of using different guys? Is it schemes that aren’t working? How difficult is that mid-season to try to solve some of those problems?
COACH DANTONIO: I think if you look at the execution of special teams and ask yourself, Did we have guys there? Were they there? Did we miss a tackle? How did they take on and address the blocker, those type of things, on the kickoff? Who was our safety?

As far as some of the other aspects of it, you got to look at everything. We were looking at the kicker situation. I think Geiger has kicked well the last couple weeks. I think Jake has been pretty solid as a punter. Didn’t like the way he punted after a safety, but I think he’s been very solid in that respect.

We just address the things as we see it, ask ourselves if it’s scheme or execution, then we have to make changes if it’s one or the other.

Q. Your defensive struggles have been noted throughout the season. It came up last week that your defense is giving up three times as many points in the second half as the first. Coach Tressel attributed a lot of defensive struggles to technique. Do you think there’s something deeper than that or is it overall play from everyone?
COACH DANTONIO: I mean, I think it comes down to fundamentals, the way you take on a double-team, the way you take on zone, missing tackles, whatever the case. There’s some things there. Maybe there’s some structural things, as well. That’s why I say this is all inclusive. Maybe there’s a little confidence issue when things start moving in one direction.

We had six three-and-outs on Saturday. The goal, a goal, is five. If you get more than five, you’re doing pretty well because it doesn’t happen all the time. So we did have a lot of three-and-outs. But when we didn’t, things sort of snowballed a little bit.

You have to look at everything. That’s what we’ve done. We’ll look at our leadership on the field, as well, how we do things structurally, how we do things on the sideline. We’ll look at it all and try and get everything in order.

I agree with you. That’s not the way we’ve played in the past. We played pretty solid throughout the first half in a number of these games, then things happen in the second half. We have to maintain what we do and continue to push.

Q. What does LJ have to do to be a bigger part of the offense?
COACH DANTONIO: He has to protect better in pass situations certainly. Again, I’ll go back to what I said earlier. We need to get our tailbacks involved in run and pass. They need to be a bigger part of who we are. They will be inevitably.

Thank you.

Falling Short Again: Another AL Championship Series Loss For Toronto

Cleveland – 3, Toronto – 0

Q. Did you have a chance to address your team after the game in the clubhouse and what was the sentiment that you expressed?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, I did. I basically thanked them for the effort all year. It was a crazy year. Some ups and downs.

One thing you heard me say, it’s a special group. They come to play. They had another great year. We got to this point. We weren’t able to get over the hump again. But you know what, a damn good job of getting to this point.

I’m proud of those guys as well as the coaching staff. I know the organization is proud of them, too. Hopefully the fans are just as proud of them, because it’s an entertaining group. They put on a good show. We just got beat in this series. Plain and simple.

Cleveland will be a great representative of the American League.

Q. There’s a good chance maybe you might not have Bautista and Encarnacion next year. When you look at this group and what they’ve accomplished, how do you put that into words?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, yeah, this group’s come a long way. We were staring at a playoff drought for a lot of years around here. And they came through for the team last year, the organization. And then repeated it this year. The guys you’re talking about, not only those two, but a few other guys that are possible free agents that have really done a lot for this team. The guys in particular, Eddie and Jose I think you’re talking about, I think they really helped put this team back on the map again, what they’ve accomplished. And they really — both of them made their name here in Toronto.

But baseball is still a business. It’s a game we play, but it’s still a big business and guys earn the right to try free agency, what have you. They both love it here, but it’s still a business.

But me personally, if I’m not around them again, I have great memories, regardless of what they did on the field, two good guys. And we spent a lot of time together, me and of course the coaching staff and everybody else.

I’m proud of those guys and you hope they’re back.

Q. What did you see in Ryan Merritt today?
JOHN GIBBONS: Hey, great job. He came out there, I thought from the get-go he looked comfortable, confident. And he picked the play apart pretty good. I thought he was pretty much living on the edges, from my angle, whether they were coming from the inside or outside, nice little breaking ball. It was the key to the game simply because I’m sure they didn’t know what kind of outing he was going to give them. It wasn’t an easy assignment for anybody, let alone a guy trying to make it in the game. Tip your hat to that guy.

But it was a battle. It was a battle all series. And they shut us down. And now they move on.

Q. You said before the game that hitting is a bit of a mystery. What do you think happened to the hitting this series? Was it the Cleveland pitching, simple as that?
JOHN GIBBONS: No doubt about it. But probably a bad time to get into what happened and who did what and who didn’t. Our guys had a tremendous year, they got to this point. But if you were watching you probably saw what happened.

Q. You suggested or you mentioned earlier that it’s been a crazy season. Can you describe some of the ups and downs that maybe stick out for you over the course of the year on your way here to this game?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, really, it was a typical season in a lot of ways. I think coming in everybody expected us to finish the season the way we did the last couple months, I don’t know how realistically that was, but that was what was expected.

Some ups and downs along the way. We hit our stride right in the middle of the season, and tough September. But they buckled down and got in. And had a nice little run here in the postseason. It was probably the obvious things, to let you know.

But it’s a fun group. It is. Baseball is a long season. And so they deserve a rest. I know they’ll go home and rest up, because a lot of guys need it.

Q. Great season.
JOHN GIBBONS: Thank you.

Q. A lot of bumps and bruises over the course of the year. How tough has it been for guys like Estrada with his back, Donaldson with his hip?
JOHN GIBBONS: You know, they battled through some of those things. A lot of guys in this league have that. But they kept answering the bell, and were very productive. Both of those guys had great seasons, and that’s not easy to do.

But really, I think baseball is more of a physical grind and mental grind than people actually realize. You’re at it every day and that’s not easy to do. And not a lot of spring chickens out there, either, playing.

But I tip my hat to them, because they made it easy on us. Every night they came out there and competed. And that’s all you could ask. Were we good every night? Of course not, but most nights we were. And we were entertaining. And I think we were an entertaining team to watch, I would think.

Q. Getting into the ALCS two years in a row is a difficult task. Can you describe the pride you have in your job and your coaches’ job, what you’ve done for two years?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, it’s not easy. You get — really, the tough part is getting in. So many good teams out there. In the American League we look at it all the time. All the divisions are good and competitive.

To stay on top or get close to the top, near the top, I mean, it takes a lot. A lot of things have got to go your way, you’ve got to get some breaks. You’ve got to stay healthy for the most part. And you’ve got to be tough mentally. That’s what we’ve got. And we turned that around last year, got in, repeated that this year.

I’m sure there will be some disappointments and grumbling and complaining about how you fell short again, but that’s not coming from me. Because I know what these guys did, and I think it’s a pretty good accomplishment. The key is we want to take that next step one of these days, hopefully it’s next year. But these guys, they did a hell of a job.

Indians Move On to World Series

Cleveland – 3, Toronto – 0

TERRY FRANCONA: Before we take questions, I just really wanted to congratulate the Blue Jays. Gibby, Ross, Mark, I mean, not only did they have a phenomenon year, but they’re phenomenal people and first class people. And just wanted to say that because they had a heck of a year.

Q. I wanted to ask you, how satisfying is this, or maybe that’s not an appropriate way to phrase it? Clearly it’s satisfying. But considering what happened to your starting rotation going into the series, for your ballclub to make it all the way to the World Series?
TERRY FRANCONA: When the game starts it really doesn’t matter what happens. Nobody is going to feel sorry for yourself. They’re not going to give us an extra run or an extra out. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that watching Ryan Merritt go out and do what he did, the only person that really got in his way was me. And I thought that he had gotten us to a point where the bullpen could take over. But what he did was above and beyond his years.

Q. Reasonably could you have expected that from Merritt today?
TERRY FRANCONA: One hit?

Q. Yes.
TERRY FRANCONA: I don’t think that you’d ever go — what I hoped would be that he would be himself. Because I thought that was a tall task just for that, under the circumstances. If he was just himself then you let the chips fall. And he threw strikes. He worked ahead, even with an 85-, 86-mile-an-hour fastball, you saw him beat their barrel a number of times. He didn’t let the noise get to him. He was phenomenal. And I’m sure when all is said and done a game like this will go light years in his development, in his maturity.

Q. Given the hurdles you faced with the injuries to your starting rotation and the way you shut down a good hitting team in Toronto, what does it say about the pitchers you have at your disposal?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I mean, I think you have to have some depth because things happen over the course of a year. I also think our bullpen did some phenomenal things. They answered the bell time after time after time. And they’re going to have to continue to do that.

But everybody chips in wherever they’re asked and they do the best they can. And to this point it’s been good enough.

Q. There are very few people that have ever managed two teams to a World Series. Does that mean much to you to join a pretty elite —
TERRY FRANCONA: No, really, I’m honored that we’re going to the World Series because to do it with — we always said if we could do it with this group it would be so special because this is as close to a family feel as you can get in a professional setting. So for that part of it, it is beyond feeling good. But not for — only personal things are the relationships. Other than that, just want to talk about the players and what Chris and Cherny did acquiring Andrew Miller. I think those are the things I’d rather talk about.