Tim Vickery’s Notes from South America: Chile may recall old stager to get World Cup campaign back on track

Having slipped to seventh in the race to reach Russia, Chile may be forced to go call up a player whose international career appeared to be over.

Jorge Valdivia Chile
Jorge Valdivia (left) could be recalled to help Chile’s chances of qualifying for Russia 2018.

Having slipped to seventh in the race to reach Russia, Chile may be forced to go call up a player whose international career appeared to be over.

This Saints player sabotaged his own punt returner and lost a fumble to Atlanta on the same play

Saints defensive back De’Vante Harris is an undrafted rookie trying to show his worth and make an NFL career for himself by impressing on special teams. Instead, he made one of the more dramatic misplays possible, obliterating his teammate Tommylee Lewis as Lewis tried to catch a punt.

As Lewis tried to track and catch the ball, Harris barreled in and completely decked him. Worried the ball had taken a bounce off his prone teammate, Harris then tried to pick up the wobbling ball off a hop and run with it. But he muffed the catch, and the Falcons picked the ball up and ran with it.

I like the look of Falcons gunner Taylor Gabriel here — “woah, look, I did not cause this to happen, he just made this enormous mistake on his own.”

Harris is an undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M hoping to show via special teams that he’s worth a spot on NFL rosters. It’s hard to imagine things going much worse than they did here: He failed to block, blindsided a teammate, and misjudged a ball in a way that led to a turnover.

Monday night’s game was supposed to be a callback to another Monday night game, the post-Katrina turn to the Superdome where Steve Gleason famously made an amazing play on a punt block to raise up the city of New Orleans. They’re not exactly paying tribute to Gleason’s amazing play (and post-football life) on the punt coverage team.

Dee Gordon honors Jose Fernandez, then hits a home run in surreal scene at Marlins Park

Gordon was overcome with emotions as he stepped on home plate.

Sometimes sports write a story better than Hollywood ever could. That happened on Monday when Dee Gordon stepped to the plate for the Miami Marlins and hit his first home run of the season.

Gordon is not a home run hitter — he’s now hit just nine in nearly 550 career games — but the emotional scene at Marlins Park had nothing to do with that. The Marlins spent the pregame honoring Jose Fernandez who died in a tragic boating accident on Sunday. The scene was about as emotional as you’ll ever see prior to a professional sporting event. The entire team wore No. 16 jerseys and gathered around the pitcher’s mound, many overcome with emotion.

The first pitch was eventually thrown, but the tributes and emotions didn’t stop there. When Gordon stepped to the plate to start the bottom of the first inning, he did so wearing Fernandez’s batting helmet. The left-handed Gordon also stepped into the opposite batter’s box and took the first pitch right-handed in honor of Fernandez.

Then, two pitches later, he did this.

As Gordon rounded the bases, Marlins teammates smacked the top railing, one of Fernandez’s signature celebrations. It all made for an emotional and unbelievable scene. Gordon became extremely emotional as he pointed up to the sky.

It was a tragedy to lose Fernandez so soon. Somehow, someway the Marlins managed to play a baseball game on Monday — after all Fernandez would have wanted it that way. And in doing so, they created a surreal moment right out of a storybook.