Monthly Archives: July 2017

Patriots WR Andrew Hawkins announces retirement via Twitter

In the old days, NFL veterans would hold a press conference to announce their retirement.

New England Patriots wide receiver Andrew Hawkins didn’t need that kind of attention. And this is the Age of Twitter. So the 31-year-old veteran posted a video on the UNINTERRUPTED Twitter account to announce he is calling it a career.

“Basically I just got off the phone with the New England Patriots and coach (Bill) Belichick and had to inform them of my decision to retire and hang up the cleats,” Hawkins said. “After OTAs and summer training, my body just didn’t respond and wasn’t feeling the way it should бн for training camp, let alone with the defending world champions.”

Undrafted out of Toledo, Hawkins caught on with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. He helped the team win consecutive Grey Cup championships.

Hawkins said he plans to start work on his PhD in business and economics early next year.

“To all the fans out there бн thank you for cheering for us, supporting us and rooting for us all these years,” Hawkins said. “You’ll never understand the blessing you have been to me and my family.”

Verlander turns 35 next February, so it makes sense that maybe he’s losing more zip on some of his pitches, and maybe that’s the reason for the downturn. That’s not true, though. Look at his velocity charts on Brooks Baseball. He’s actually throwing harder in 2017 than he was last year – his fastball is at 95.65 mph, up from 94.33, and that increase holds across the board.

He’s had a couple disaster starts this year, but overall his production has been solid. He’s lasted at least seven innings in nine of his 21 starts this season, and he has a 2.77 ERA over his four most recent starts. The “quality start” stat (at least six innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed) is admittedly flawed, but Verlander has 12 of those this season. t_rangers_005-115x115

‘Splash Brothers’ help Warriors pull off improbable win over Spurs

The Warriors spotted the Spurs 15 points and trailed Wednesday’s marquee matchup in San Antonio 26-5 midway through the first quarter.

That’s when Golden State coach Steve Kerr finally got his guys to settle down and play their brand of basketball.

The result was a 110-98 Warriors victory as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson led the comeback.
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This isn’t too surprising considering he scored 57, but Wednesday’s output was his highest overall out of any triple-double this season. What does this mean? It means if you combine his points + rebounds + assists it equals 81 total numbers.

What’s interesting is the only time he came close to that mark was his first triple-double of the season when he had a combined 74 (51 pts, 13 rebounds, 10 assists).
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An underlooked stat from Wednesday’s game is the fact Westbrook had seven turnovers in the game, but they all came in the first quarter. He had no turnovers for the rest of the game while he was compiling one of the best triple-doubles in NBA history.

There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride. This locker room is just not pissed off enough, George said. We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs.

New Orleans may be more exciting to watch the rest of the season after the trade, but they don’t have the depth to make any noise in the packed Western Conference.

Celtics (37-20) at Raptors (33-24) 8:00 p.m. ET 鈥?Boston balked at adding another star to its roster and failed to improve. Toronto, on the other hand, gained Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker before the trade deadline. Both these teams are trying to catch the Cavs in the Eastern Conference.

You have always seemed to maintain close ties with your coaches

The Knicks teams you played for in the 1980s, there were a lot of injuries there. Bernard King had his knee problem. You had a foot issue and missed a whole year. How good could those teams have been if healthy?

I don’t know. I played my first two years and I didn’t miss a game. And then I was injured just most of the time for a while. It was kind of one of those things where timing has got to be there, and besides that, I was still — there were still some formidable teams in the East. The Sixers still had Doc and the fricking Celtics were just getting warmed up. Even though we did have some good teams, we just had a lot of formidable teams to deal with. But we had injuries.

You have always seemed to maintain close ties with your coaches, even the coaches you had before the NBA. Why is that?
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Maybe I have been lucky. My high school coach is in Palm Springs now. I am still touch with him. As well as my college coach, Bob Gaillard, and my second college coach, Dan Belloumini. I have always just been able to pick up the phone if I have questions or need advice. And those guys are pretty good about it, too. They’ll pick up the phone and call you.

Did those connections make you always want to be a coach? When did it occur to you that you wanted to coach?
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It comes with the territory. You kind of have to be built for this. There are certain things they can’t prepare you for. It has to be for you to learn to not take stock in things people say on Twitter. I’ve had people say the craziest s— to me then when I say, what, they all get like, oh, I just wanted you to respond. Like, what kind of BS is that? But it’s what people do.

Lots of people dream about the life we live in the NBA. They want it, and if I’m man enough to accept that, then I have to be man enough to accept the negative. But, of course, my clap back and block game strong, too.

Thunder’s Russell Westbrook dunks on DeMarcus Cousins’ soul

On a night in which Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins earned his 18th technical foul of the season (and an automatic suspension), Russell Westbrook added insult to injury.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Thunder guard dunked so hard on “Boogie,” future Boogies will feel it.

The thunderous dunk propelled Oklahoma City to a 118-110 victory over the struggling Pelicans. New Orleans is 0-3 since acquiring Cousins from the Kings.

The dunk was part of the 41 points Westbrook scored. He added 11 dimes and 11 rebounds to secure another triple-double.

Needless to say, Cousins will be looking to put Sunday night behind him and . . . look forward to his pending suspension, or something.

Jason Kidd would like to see Antetokounmpo make the game a little easier for himself. About half of Antetokounmpo’s shots come at the rim, and the numbers show there’s a pretty good reason for that. He shoots better than 70 percent from within three feet, according to Basketball Reference, a testament to his combination of size and athleticism.

But there’s a physical price to be paid for every foray into the paint, and maybe, at 22, Antetokounmpo can handle that. As his career progresses, though, Kidd knows his young star will need to vary his game, starting by trusting his midrange jumper. Antetokounmpo is not much of a 3-point shooter just yet—he takes 2.3 3-pointers per game, and makes only 28.3 percent—but that can come later. For now, Kidd would like to see Antetokounmpo have more faith in his shot from the elbows, to limit the banging he takes.broncos_068

Watch Jackie Bradley Jr. rob Aaron Judge of home run with majestic catch

The Home Run Derby is terrible for hitters. Or so the narrative goes.
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On Sunday, Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. added to Aaron Judge’s post-Home Run Derby power outage as he skied above Fenway Park’s triangle and stole a dinger late in the game.

Quintana was great from the start, striking out Adam Jones to begin a perfect first inning. He then struck out at least two batters in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings striking out the side in the sixth. The win was also nice for the Cubs, who picked up a game on the National League Central-leading Brewers, who were unable to complete a sweep of the Phillies.

A few hours after Quintana worked his magic, Red Sox pitcher David Price spent his evening mowing down the Yankees. Price tossed eight shutout innings en route to a 3-0 victory in the second half of the day-night double-header with the Yankees.

Price struck out eight and walked none on the way to his fifth win of the season. Since starting the season with a 5.14 ERA through his first five starts, he has in the five starts since brought his ERA all the way down to 3.39. Price is now 5-2 on the season and has struck out 66 in 69 innings.
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Enter Jose Quintana.

He’s a 28-year-old lefty with a career 3.41 ERA entering this season. Quintana struggled early in 2017, but has a 2.70 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of June. The reason the price was so steep is Quintana’s contact situation is very team-friendly; he’s under club control through 2020, should the club kick in no-brainer options for 2019 and 2020 (both $10.5 million per).

NFL GM rankings: Best, worst decision-makers in the league

Two weeks after posting its annual rankings for the 2017 season, Sporting News has a full complement of NFL general managers to rank. Welcome back, Kansas City Chiefs!

The initial rankings at the end of June included just 31 team bosses, because of the extraordinarily late firing of John Dorsey by the Chiefs earlier in the month. Coincidentally, the annual head coach rankings only listed 31, too, but that was because Bill Belichick was such an obvious choice for No. 1.

Now the Chiefs have replaced Dorsey with Brett Veach, and not a moment too soon, announcing it nine days before the first training camps open (and 16 days before the Chiefs report). That will conclude, basically, the shortest offseason in NFL history.

Game Mens Leonard Williams Jersey This amazing sum and commitment is also why Westbrook delaying or even refusing to sign his Designated Veteran extension should be concerning to the Thunder. He cannot get that contract anywhere else and certainly cannot come close to locking in that kind of money this offseason. The reigning MVP reaches ten years of NBA experience and the 35 percent maximum next summer, but only his team at the end of that season can offer a five-year contract and the higher eight percent raises using full Bird rights, the exact contract on the table now.

Game Mens Jerome Bettis Jersey The potential of Westbrook leaving as an unrestricted free agent in 2018 is even more daunting considering Oklahoma City recently lost an MVP without receiving any compensation a year ago when Kevin Durant spurned the Thunder to join the Warriors. While it could be enveloped in more acceptable language, a refusal to sign the Designated Veteran extension this offseason (it has to be agreed to before the start of the regular season) would put GM Sam Presti and ownership in an unenviable position of either trading the beloved MVP or risking another crushing heartbreak.

Home Run Derby 2017: Not even Giancarlo Stanton hits balls off Marlins Park roof like Aaron Judge

Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has hit some of the furthest home runs in Marlins Park history, but he admitted during Monday’s Home Run Derby he never hit a ball off the ballpark’s roof like Aaron Judge did.
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The Yankees slugger pulled off an incredible comeback after Stanton’s Miami teammate Justin Bour set the bar high with 22 first-round homers. Judge blasted 23 to advance, including a 501-foot shot that never even reached the stands.
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Stanton, the reigning Home Run Derby champion, said on ESPN’s broadcast while he takes batting practice before every home game at the park, he actually prefers to drive the ball instead of connecting on moon shots like Judge.

Not surprising, the most prolific sluggers of that era had the most success. Aaron won the most contests, six. Mantle hit the most home runs (35). But some forgotten stars from yesteryear fared surprisingly well in competition; Jackie Jensen of the Red Sox clubbed 29 home runs, fourth-most on the show.

All this is to say I’ll still watch Monday’s contest because, again, I think that maybe that this time will be different.

Maybe Stanton and Judge will take this thing to another level and spark a new appreciation. Maybe one of them will hit one into the ocean, or at least hit one hard enough to destroy the monstrosity of a sculpture in center field (I promise to love the Derby forever if that happens). Maybe something unexpected will happen and blow everyone away, me included.

Wizards, Rockets, Warriors take commanding 2-0 leads

To NBA fans in Atlanta, Oklahoma City and Portland: avert your eyes. You’re not going to like your playoff odds.

The Wizards, Rockets and Warriors all grabbed 2-0 series leads Wednesday with victories at home against the Hawks, Thunder and Trail Blazers. Prior to Wednesday night’s slate of NBA playoff games, ESPN Stats and Info pointed out 94 percent of teams with 2-0 leads in best-of-seven series have advanced. So it’s an uphill climb, to say the least.

Unsurprisingly, those developments have also made big men on less desirable contracts functionally unmovable without their current team surrendering assets because they provide less value and fewer franchises will have substantial cap space. That reduced number of teams with salary flexibility should drive salaries down for this summer’s non-elite free agents as well, so contracts to perceived starters like Noah and Mozgov will continue to look bad, but many front offices will be able to do much better with their free-agent dollars than 2016 deals for backup centers Dwight Powell, Jon Leuer, Boban Marjanovic and Al Jefferson.

As was the case last summer, the front offices that do best in 2017 could be those who just wait out their impatient counterparts and those who do not have the salary flexibility to make mistakes. In 2016, the Warriors produced a surprisingly solid center rotation with Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee while both the Rockets (Nene) and Spurs (Dewayne Dedmon) added key rotation pieces with their Room Mid-Level exceptions.

Of course, not every team can sell the prospect of playing time on a title contender. Incidentally, each of those three teams will need to strike gold again with similar constraints since all of those signees will be free agents again, but they will not be players in the higher end trade market.
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NBA trade rumors: Teams reaching out to Lakers for D’Angelo Russell

The Lakers won big Tuesday night during the NBA Draft Lottery as they will now have the second selection in the draft. Most expect that pick to be Lonzo Ball, who the Lakers are reportedly enamored with. But of course if Ball goes to L.A. it creates a point guard logjam.
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D’Angelo Russell was the team’s No. 2 pick just two years ago, and while he’s shown some promise, there isn’t much room for him and Ball. Both players have a similar style, and it’d be a big adjustment to make them differently. Other teams know this, and it’s why they’ve reached out to the Lakers to create a package for Russell.

Kids Loui Eriksson Jersey According to Vazquez’s suit, which was filed in Bexar County district court in Texas on behalf of Spurs season-ticket holders and San Antonio card shop What’s On Second, Pachulia acted without excuse or justification, intentionally and maliciously invaded the landing zone of an opposing athlete, Kawhi Leonard.

The lawsuit continues that Pachulia’s ill-placed foot devastated the quality of the Spurs’ chances of being competitive and having additional games in their home arena, both in the Western Conference Finals and also potentially in the NBA Finals and also negatively affected the value of the tickets purchased by plaintiff subsequent to their purchase.

For retribution, the lawsuit states guilty players should pay for their actual and exemplary damages, a temporary restraining order to be placed on guilty parties to keep them from carrying out such dangerous actions in the future, and any other relief injured parties may need.

All we are asking from the court is that this type of behavior, that can and does cause serious injury to our team and those that love it, not be allowed in San Antonio, said Alfonso Kennard, Jr., lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

The Cavaliers are 24-2 in the first two rounds since James returned

Lowdown: Amazing when you consider the 100-game track record on both sides. LeBron’s dominance of the Eastern Conference the last seven years is almost identical to that of the Lakers in the Western Conference in the 1980s. The Lakers lost one series in that stretch, but they were pushed to seven games only twice, both coming in 1987-88 against the Jazz and Mavericks, respectively.

Lowdown: The Cavaliers are 24-2 in the first two rounds since James returned, and that includes five 4-0 sweeps. The Lakers went 18-0 in first-round games, which were best-of-five at the time, when the playoff format expanded in 1983-84.
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Chicago gave Rondo’s starting role to Jerian Grant at first, but his inexperience proved costly as he wasn’t effective. In Game 4, the Bulls gave Isaiah Canaan the majority of the minutes and have decided to name him the Game 5 starter over Grant.
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As for Rondo, his health has improved this week. He was spotted at Bulls practice Tuesday putting up shots with his left hand. The cast on his right hand was removed Monday for his wrist injury, but the guard is still wearing a splint for his thumb.

This is honestly the first time he has touched a basketball with that right hand, (so) we’ll see how it goes, Hoiberg told reporters Tuesday. He’s going to continue to condition and do everything he can. He was in the weight room (Monday) getting a good session for the first time, so he’s really just getting this whole process started.