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Monday, February 19, 2018

Stories by Grey Papke:

Blackhawks ban fans who shouted racist taunts at Capitals player

The Chicago Blackhawks have taken swift action against fans who chanted racist taunts at a black Washington Capitals player.

Caps forward Devante Smith-Pelly was sent to the penalty box after a fight during the third period of Saturday’s game. According to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post, four Blackhawks fans up against the box began chanting “Basketball! Basketball!” at him.

Smith-Pelly confronted the fans through the glass, and all four were ejected by arena security. On Monday, the team announced that the fans have been banned from all future Blackhawks games.

Unfortunately, racist heckling happens at sporting events from time to time. Luckily, teams tend to deal with it fairly aggressively.

Report: JD Martinez gets five-year deal from Red Sox

JD Martinez

J.D. Martinez has reportedly officially signed with the Boston Red Sox.

According to various reports, Martinez has signed a five-year deal worth $110 million and includes an opt-out after two seasons.

It’s safe to say Martinez fell a good bit short of his original ambitions. It became inevitable early on that this would happen, as the market simply didn’t develop in the players’ favor. Martinez will hope it rebounds, in all likelihood, and that he can perform well for two years before taking another shot at it.

Report: Red Sox, JD Martinez close to deal

JD Martinez

After a whole lot of back and forth, it sounds like J.D. Martinez may finally be moving close to a new landing spot.

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Martinez and the Boston Red Sox are close to a deal, though nothing is done yet.

The Red Sox have always looked like Martinez’s most likely landing spot. There has been mutual interest there all offseason long, though there were numerous hitches in the negotiations, with Martinez less than enamored by Boston’s reported offers. Obviously, it sounds like some sort of breakthrough is either close or has already happened, though nothing is done until the contract is signed.

Fergie apologizes for NBA All-Star anthem performance

Fergie has apologized for her strange rendition of the national anthem prior to Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

The singer was widely criticized and mocked for her bizarre, slowed-down jazz version of the anthem, and she told TMZ Sports that she tried to take a risk that obviously didn’t pay off.

“I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA,” Fergie said. “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”

It’s never a great sign when the players are trying not to laugh during the performance, and that’s what was happening Sunday. It’s probably best to just play it straight next time.

Josh Donaldson does not anticipate extension with Blue Jays

Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson’s contract talks with the Toronto Blue Jays don’t appear to be going well.

Donaldson said Monday that he and the Blue Jays are not on the same page at the moment with regard to contract talks, and while things could change, he expects to become a free agent at season’s end.

Donaldson was his customarily strong self in 2017, hitting .270 with 33 home runs. He has made clear that he would prefer to stay in Toronto, but he’s also going to want what he sees as a fair contract. Obviously, the two sides have not gotten there.

Gabriella Papadakis’s father predicts quick comeback after wardrobe malfunction

Gabriella Papadakis

The father of French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis expects her to bounce back quickly after her wardrobe malfunction.

Emmanuel Papadakis, who runs a food truck business in Texas, said that as embarrassing as his daughter’s wardrobe malfunction was, he expected a big performance on Tuesday in response.

“But it won’t knock her down,” Papadakis told Martin Rogers of USA Today Sports. “She is so tough and she has put in so much work. You wait and see what she goes out and does (on Tuesday). I am so proud of her, especially today.

“People see one thing. Yes, something happened. But I hope people can understand enough to think about what really matters. They don’t see that it took years of effort to get here and to try to be as good as you can be.”

Gabriella Papadakis struggled to keep her top up after an early wardrobe malfunction, which was understandably embarrassing for her. She and her partner Guillaume Cizeron still came in second after the short program, though, and have every chance to win a medal despite their troubles.

Kevin Kiermaier slams Rays’ roster moves

Kevin Kiermaier

The Tampa Bay Rays’ recent moves have not gone down well with a key member of the team.

Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier made no secret of his displeasure on Monday, admitting that he didn’t get what the Rays were doing after trading pitcher Jake Odorizzi and designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.

“I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush,” Kiermaier said, via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Kiermaier is something of a team leader, and he admitted that he and his fellow players have no choice but to put their heads down and get to work.

“With that being said it’s my responsibility, and now the team’s responsibility, to move on,” Kiermaier said. “It’s over with. It’s done. Got to move on from it. We can not sit here and dwell on it. We can sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. Chatter amongst each other. But it’s over with, it happened. We still have a really good team in here, got a lot of good guys. I believe in these guys.

“We lost two great players. It’s terrible. At the same time, life goes on. We still have to do what we have to do to go out there and get as many wins as possible.”

Odorizzi was a quality starter, but designating Dickerson for assignment after he was an All-Star last year was particularly surprising as the Rays looked to cut payroll. Kiermaier’s comments aren’t all that different from those made by a former Rays player who watched these events from afar.

MLB to limit mound visits from players and coaches in 2018

Major League Baseball is limiting the amount of mound visits for players and coaches in the 2018 season.

According to new pace of play rules released Monday, each team will be entitled to six mound visits from players, coaches, or the manager during a nine-inning game, with an additional mound visit allowed for each extra inning. Visits for an injury and pitching changes will not count against that total, and exceptions can be made if the pitcher and catcher are crossed up.

This is just the latest change to pace of play rules, following the institution of no-pitch intentional walks a year ago. While some reforms aren’t coming anytime soon, you can bet that this isn’t the last effort commissioner Rob Manfred will make to speed up games.

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