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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Mark DeRosa a possibility for next Orioles manager?

The Baltimore Orioles could be turning to a fairly well-known name to try and rescue them from their abyss.

Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported this week that Mark DeRosa is emerging as a “possible managerial name” for the Orioles. Heyman notes that DeRosa interviewed for the New York Mets job that ultimately went to Mickey Callaway and had an opportunity to go the Chicago Cubs as a bench coach.

DeRosa, 43, played in the league from 1998 to 2013, making stops with eight different teams along the way. He now works as an analyst for MLB Network.

As for the Orioles, who are in an obvious rebuild phase at an MLB-worst 36-86 this year, the contract of their current manager, Buck Showalter, will be up after the season. DeRosa is 19 years younger as well as a former player, and that is a rather popular managerial type these days. It definitely seems like he has the chops for the job too.

Kyrie Irving to be honored by Indian tribe

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving already added “actor” to his resume this summer, and now he will be able to add “diplomat” as well.

Fred Katz of MassLive.com relayed on Friday that the Boston Celtics star will be visiting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Aug. 23 for a ceremony in his honor, citing an official release from the tribe. The ceremony for Irving, who has ancestry with the tribe, will take place in North Dakota.

Katz adds that the All-Star guard’s late mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was part of the tribe but was adopted out of it when she was a child. Irving’s grandmother and great-grandparents were citizens of Standing Rock as well.

Irving himself, meanwhile, has a Standing Rock tattoo on the back of his neck, and his recently-released signature shoe with Nike has a Standing Rock seal on the back. He also expressed support for the Native American community’s mass protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016.

It has certainly been an offseason of wholesome news for Irving, and getting in further touch with his roots later this month will only add to that.

Watch: Boban Marjanovic shows off his tennis skills

Boban Marjanovic Stan Van Gundy

Is Boban Marjanovic on his way to being the next great dual-sport superstar?

The LA Clippers center was in his native Serbia this week and hit the tennis court to show off his skills with the racket. ESPN’s Mike Schmitz shared video:

While there’s an understandable lack of fluidity from the 7-foot-3 Marjanovic, you have to admit that’s a pretty mean forehand.

The tallest men’s tennis player in the world right now is another European in eight-time ATP tournament champion Ivo Karlovic, who stands 6-foot-11. Marjanovic could just be next in line after his NBA career is over (that is if he doesn’t become a full-time actor first).

Steve Ballmer takes shot at Sixers over The Process

Steve Ballmer

Rather than trusting The Process, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is making it clear that he very much doubts it.

Speaking with fans and season ticket holders at an event this week, Ballmer said that the Clippers would not be tanking for a high draft pick this season and got in a shot at the Philadelphia 76ers while he was at it.

“That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” said Ballmer of bottoming out, per Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years.

“I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in,” he continued. “How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”

To be fair, the Sixers only actively tanked for four years as part of The Process, the brainchild of former general manager Sam Hinkie. The gambit also helped them put together an elite young core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, and others, a group that won 52 games last season. But the cost of that was a combined 253 losses over those four seasons and a totally unwatchable product on their floor for their fans for all that time.

The Clippers, meanwhile, are now facing a talent vacuum that could see the losses pile up for them in a similar fashion over the next few years. However, Ballmer has always been one to try to keep his team as relevant as possible, so a Hinkie-esque total free fall seems quite unlikely for them.

Giants P hurt hamstring during fight with Dodgers

Dodgers Giants brawl

Dereck Rodriguez wound up as collateral damage of Tuesday night’s fight against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The San Francisco Giants right-hander was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Thursday with a Grade 1 hamstring strain. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Rodriguez suffered the injury during the aforementioned benches-clearing brawl with the Dodgers.

Yasiel Puig and Nick Hundley were the primary combatants in the incident, which occurred in the seventh inning of the eventual 2-1 Giants win. Puig got a fine and a two-game suspension as a result, while Hundley was also fined.

As for Rodriguez, who holds a 2.25 ERA in 12 starts this year and is the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, his injury is not quite unprecedented. Earlier this season, we saw another pitcher get hurt under very similar circumstances.

Ben Simmons may switch to shooting righty this season?

Ben Simmons

Markelle Fultz may not be the only Philadelphia 76er looking to improve his shooting stroke for the coming NBA season.

In the latest edition of his weekly newsletter, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that there is a belief that Sixers star Ben Simmons will be switching to shooting righty for the 2018-19 campaign.

“Also remember: It’s August, people. Don’t get too heated here — not over this,” Stein wrote after including the reigning Rookie of the Year on his NBA All-Lefty team in honor of Left Handers Day. “If Simmons goes all righty this season, as some expect, we will adjust.”

Simmons, who averaged 15.8 points per game on 54.5 percent from the field in his rookie year, can get to the rim and score there at will. But his 0-for-11 season total on three-point attempts (mostly halfcourt heaves) and his 56.0 percent free throw shooting indicate that a change may be necessary.

The 22-year-old has also been dropping some other hints recently that such a change may be in order, so that will certainly be a prime storyline to monitor as the Sixers look to build on their 52-win 2017-18 season.

Kyle Kuzma thinks Lakers are being underestimated

Kyle Kuzma

Despite the addition of LeBron James and Co. this offseason, few have the Los Angeles Lakers as legitimate threats in the Western Conference next season. Kyle Kuzma, on the other hand, is of a different opinion.

In an interview with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk on Tuesday, the Lakers forward said that he has been working out with James this offseason and added that he thinks the team is being underestimated.

“We are both definitely excited about the roster and the pieces that we have,” said Kuzma. “And we think that a lot of people are underestimating us. It is definitely going to be fun playing with all these new guys.

“I don’t know why people kind of just rule us out because we are young,” the 23-year-old continued. “We are hungry. We are competitive. Anybody that watched us play last year, we were in a lot of games. Having one of the greatest players of all time is going to raise what we do, raise our level of focus and the team to a higher level. I don’t really see why [there is a need to be] so patient.”

Kuzma, who averaged 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.1 threes per game as a rookie last season, figures to be a core complement to James on the Lakers’ roster in 2018-19. That roster will also include an intriguing blend of other youngsters such as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram as well as wily, playoff-tested veterans like Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson.

James himself also seems to believe that they can outperform expectations, so Kuzma’s confidence here is definitely far from just youthful exuberance.

Tigers manager compares team to Bad News Bears

Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire may have just found the most apt comparison for his team’s season to date.

After a 6-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, Gardenhire compared their play to that of baseball’s most famous fictional losers, The Bad News Bears. Here is what he said, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press:

The Tigers fell to 20 games below .500 on the year with the loss (50-70) and are now a whopping 21.5 games out of a playoff spot. Adding insult to injury is that the White Sox are even lower than them in the standings at 43-76.

August has also been particularly brutal for Detroit, as they have gone just 3-8 on the month so far. Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that Gardenhire has had to turn to humor to cope with his team’s struggles this season either.

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