Bash Brothers in DC? The Nats Should Go ALL-IN On Stanton

This is supposed to be the fun time of the year, when any and every team can make a big splash and dominate the headlines.  The biggest deals often go down at the Winter Meetings, but the early Hot Stove League usually gives us something.

This year it has been so quiet it might as well be dead. 

Perhaps baseball executives have simply hit snooze, and are waiting for next year…when arguably the greatest free agent class in sports history hits the open market.

Or, more likely the entire baseball world is in a holding pattern until its two biggest dominoes—Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani and Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton—fall.

Where Ohtani ends up is anyone’s guess.  Baseball’s CBA restricts the financial aspect of signing international players, thereby any of MLB’s thirty teams could realistically make a competing offer.  The player called the Babe Ruth of Japan will likely sign with a better positioned, bigger market team, but everyone has a shot.

The same can’t be said about Stanton.  Armed a no-trade clause, a record setting contract, and coming off a monster season, there are very few teams in position to acquire the Marlins’ outfielder. 

And the Marlins have no choice.  The former owners backed the team into a corner, heavily backloading the mammoth contract and essentially forcing the current owners into trading the best player in franchise history.

The teams mentioned most often in rumors are the deeper pocketed franchises.  The Red Sox, Dodger, Giants, and Phillies are quick thoughts.  The Cardinals, while not an elite money spender, have the cash and need, and have been bandied about a lot, and it does make sense.

However, the team that makes the most sense, the one that adding Stanton to solves TWO issues, has not been mentioned once in connection with him.

The Washington Nationals.

Yes, there are tons of reasons why this makes absolutely no sense, beginning with the Marlins’ apparent desire to get him out of their division.  Even if they haven’t thought about that, why would they want to trade away Stanton only to watch him from the opposing team’s dugout nineteen times per year for years to come?

And then there are the Nationals reasons why it’s a bad idea.  They already have their own superstar right-fielder, nowhere for Stanton to play, and a payroll that’s already topped the luxury tax threshold. 

Acquiring Stanton would blow their budget.  His salary would single handily vault them deeper into the luxury tax penalty than they have every been before. 

But only for 2018.  Following the season Washington clears more than $65 million from its books, and likely would be out from under the tax. 

Nearly a third of those dollars belong to Bryce Harper, who undoubtedly will leave Washington for much greener pastures, which makes acquiring Stanton a preemptive strike aimed at keeping the Nationals window of contention wide open. 

Either Stanton or Harper can man left-field for a year, and together they could mash their way into bringing a championship back to D.C.  Then when Harper leaves Stanton can slide into his place, and the Nationals might not miss a beat.

However, it would be an extremely risky move.  It might not cost Victor Robles, but the price is going to sting.  And for years the Nationals have been robbing Peter to pay Paul, deferring tens of millions of dollars. 

Regardless of how their TV contract negotiations/lawsuits go, those bills are going to come do.  And it could bankrupt the franchise.  But that’s not enough of a reason not to bring the game’s best slugger to the nation’s capital. 

A parade down Pennsylvania Avenue would look pretty sweet in late October. 

Daren McFadden Retires from NFL

Two days ago, running back Darren McFadden was released by the Dallas Cowboys for his lack of performance during the 2017 season. Now, you can call him former as he is retired from the NFL.

From 2005-2008 Darren McFadden was a running back for the Arkansas Razorbacks racking up 785 rushing attempts for 4,590 yards and 41 touchdowns. In 2009, McFadden was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the 4th overall pick.

From 2009-2014, Darren McFadden played with the Raiders being the star running back. In his time in Oakland, he had 3,313 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. In his third season, McFadden earned his first 1,000 yard season. After the 2014 season, McFadden requested a trade and the Dallas Cowboys acquired him in 2015.

During the 2015 season, as the featured back, he started 10 games. In those 10 games, he rushed 239 times for 1,069 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The next season, he had trouble getting on the field due to Ezekiel Elliott being really good. That year, he only started one game and only got 87 yards.

This season in 2017, he started one game and has -1 rushing yards with 0 touchdowns.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Ahead Of LeBron James In All-Star Voting

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo leads All-Star balloting only 12 days after the voting process began.

Antetokounmpo is ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James by nearly 7,500 votes, ahead of Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving by more than 50,000 votes and leads players such as Golden State Warriors superstars Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, among others.

In the Eastern Conference, Antetokounmpo (863,416), James (856,080) and Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid were the top three frontcourt players in the first fan vote. New York Knicks Kristaps Porzingis (359,459) was fourth. Irving and Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan (259,368) were the top two guards. Indiana Pacerss Victor Oladipo (251,886) was third.

In the Western Conference, Durant, New Orleans Pelicans Anthony Davis(393,000) and teammate DeMarcus Cousins (356,340) were the top three frontcourt players. Golden State Warriors Draymond Green (325,612) was fourth.

Curry and Houston Rockets James Harden(602,040) were the top two guards. Oklahoma CityThunder’s Russell Westbrook (438,469) was third.

Paul Pierce Does Not Want To Share His Celtics Ceremony With Isaiah Thomas

When the Boston Celtics officially retire the jersey of former player Paul Pierce, Pierce does not want to share his night with former Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, who currently plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Pierce said Thursday that he would prefer the Celtics not run their scheduled in-game tribute video for Thomas’ on-court return scheduled for February 1st.

“I’m not saying Isaiah shouldn’t get a tribute video … but on Feb. 11, the night I get my jersey retired, I’m not sure I want to look up at the JumboTron and see Isaiah highlights,’ Pierce said Thursday during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump.

“I enjoyed watching that throughout the game,” Pierce said. “Hopefully the Boston Celtics will do that for me. I’m not sure I want to see an Isaiah video that night.”

“That’s Pierce’s night. But, like, the video tribute ain’t the whole night,” Thomas said. “I just wanted my family to be here to see it. That’s what it came down to. I wanted to be able to play. And I wanted my family to experience the love and appreciation this city and this organization is going to give me on that night. And when my representatives reached out to these guys, [the Celtics] were all for it. They agreed on it.

“I don’t know why [some people are] so mad about it. I’m not taking nothing from Paul Pierce. He did 15 years here so there’s nothing that I can take from him. But if they choose to do it that night, that would be great and I would be honored. And my family and friends can see how much they appreciated me here.”

Raiders’ To Ink Jon Gruden To 10-Year Contract That Approaches $100M

The Oakland Raiders not only want Jon Gruden to return to their sidelines as their next head coach, but they want a significant commitment that he will stick around for a long time.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter (first reported by RaidersSnakepit.com), the Raiders will sign Gruden to the longest coaching deal in NFL history, a deal for 10-years and approaching an astronomical $100 million.

The Raiders have called a significant news conference for Tuesday to announce Gruden as their next head coach.

Despite appearances otherwise, the NFL says that the Raiders have complied with the Rooney Rule in their coaching search.

“We believe the Rooney Rule was complied with. Minority candidates were interviewed,” NFL executive vice president of communications Joe Lockhart said during a conference call Friday. “We’ll see what decision they make.”

Patriots’ Robert Kraft, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick Say They ‘Stand United’

Amid reports that there is some friction within the New England Patriots organization and divide brewing between owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the trio have stated that they are firmly united.

The news comes in response to a detailed ESPN article outlining tension between the three. Kraft, Brady and Belichick put out a join statement:

“For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship. In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate. The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years. It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united.”

“I don’t really know what to say; it’s tough to have a response since it didn’t appear to me to have one on-the-record quote. All I can suggest is don’t believe everything you read,” Don Yee, the agent for both Brady and former Patriots quarterback (current San Francisco 49ers quarterback) Jimmy Garoppolo.

 

Cavs’ Derrick Rose Pinpoints Current Roadtrip For Potential Return To Team

The Cleveland Cavaliers may finally be getting guard Derrick Rose back on the court during their current 5-game road trip.

Rose, who last played on November 7th, said Friday “there’s a chance” he will return to action during the road swing.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said whenever Rose is ready to play, he will work his way back into the rotation.

“I think playing D-Wade on a lot of back-to-backs has been tough for him,” Lue said. “[There are] some games where he doesn’t feel great, but we don’t really have the extra ball handler to sit him. So when D-Rose gets back, he’ll definitely help with that and help with D-Wade getting his rest and being able to feel good on the floor.”

Lue also said he spoke to Cavs guard Dwyane Wade about the plan when Rose returns.

“I talked to him already,” Lue said before taking a playful shot at Wade’s age. “[He’s] 50-years old, so, sometimes you just don’t have it. But with all the guys being out, just don’t have the luxury right now. So we talked about it. He understands and he’s for it.”

“It’s whatever they want,” Rose said. “I’m not trying to be a distraction to the team or anything like that. I’m here to be a professional about any situation I get put into and to own up to it and be a man about it. I just want to win. No matter how many minutes I’m playing, I’m not a stat guy. I did all that in the past. Now it’s time for me to win a championship.”

Rose is dealing with a bone spur in his left ankle.

“It’s improving because of rehab,” Rose said of the injury. “I’m picking up my rehab every other day. I’m doing conditioning and they’ve got me doing floor work every day. It’s coming along pretty well. Thank God I don’t have to worry about surgery.”

It’s probable that Rose could make his return against the Indiana Pacers.

“Getting the most out of all my days and just appreciating and taking in the position I’m in right now,” Rose said. “I’m on a great team, no point in rushing back too soon. I feel like that’s what I did the first time.”

Rose also is embracing any role that the team gives him upon his return.

“I feel like I can fit anywhere,” Rose said when asked what his role may be. “Like I said, I just want to be a part of the team. I said that before the season. I could be the equipment guy here, it really don’t matter.

“I just want to be a part of it. … I want to be in the heat of the moment, I want to feel it. I want to play games, too. Play as many games as possible, but it’s going to take time.”

Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving Taken To Hospital

Hall of Famer Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving fell ill at the Philadelphia 76ers’ game on Friday night. Erving was on hand for the home tilt and rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell before tipoff.

“Philadelphia 76ers legend Julius Erving fell ill at tonight’s game and was taken to a local hospital, where he is currently being evaluated. He is expected to be released after the evaluation,”  Erving’s management team and the 76ers said in a statement.

Erving, 67, led the Sixers to an NBA championship in 1983 and was 1981 NBA MVP.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving Discusses First Season Experience

A lot has changed for Kyrie Irving in 2017. First, there was the NBA Finals loss that sent his team at the time, the Cleveland Cavaliers, home without a trophy.

Then there was the endless news cycle of Irving’s status with the Cavs and reported drama with teammate LeBron James, which ended in Irving pushing for a trade.

Then came the trade that sent him to the Boston Celtics, that was briefly put on hold before being back ‘on’ again.

Through it all, Irving has savored the experiences, good or bad.

“As a young player I used to get stuck in one game and think that this was going to be the end all, be all. If I don’t shoot well tonight then I don’t know if I’m going to make it until tomorrow, man,” he said. “And that’s just how maniacal I am about the game. But now it’s really about the big picture. As long as you can affect the game on the defensive end, offensive end, and put your team in a great position to win, that’s the only thing that really matters.

“All the other stats and everything, you can try to make important — you can — but it’ll deviate you. I’ve been there.”

Irving, who had to play second fiddle to James in Cleveland, is embracing a new role with Boston.

“I can’t necessarily pinpoint a specific point, but, for me, this season has been a learning experience to be able to do that,” he said. “The expectations that were brought forth on this season, that were brought forth on myself, expectations that I had, if I didn’t have that patience, then I probably would have lost it. And I can’t lose it.

“And I refuse to. I’m just too strong internally and mentally to do that. And then the talent on the court will do itself, as long as I put the work in every single day. So there are a lot of aspects of the game of basketball that are considered and are not considered, they are individually kind of figured out at that time, and I’m just on my journey. That being said, it just took some time to figure it out.”

Titans May Fire Mike Mularkey If Team Loses Wild Card Game

There could be a lot on the line for Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey as the team prepares for it’s Wild Card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.

Mularkey’s job could be in jeopardy if the Titans lose. In fact, it is reported that it is likely that the head coach will be served his walking papers if the team does lose, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport .

The report indicates that the Titans are interested in making a run at New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.