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Saturday, December 10, 2016

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Brewers prospect Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug violation

Phil Bickford

Phil Bickford, a minor league pitching prospect in the Brewers’ organization, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse, news emerged on Friday.

This is Bickford’s second time testing positive for a drug of abuse. He first tested positive for marijuana before the draft in 2015.

The first positive test didn’t stop the Giants from taking him No. 18 overall in 2015. He dominated in rookie ball and had an excellent season last year split at two different levels of A-ball. But the Giants traded him to the Brewers for Will Smith during the season.

The former Cal State Fullerton pitcher is 7-8 with a 2.79 ERA and 10.58 strikeouts per nine innings during his minor league career.

Dexter Fowler will wear No. 25 with Cardinals to honor Barry Bonds

dexter-fowler-cardinals

Dexter Fowler is headed to St. Louis, and he plans to use his time there to honor his mentor, Barry Bonds.

After agreeing to a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the team on Thursday, Fowler was officially introduced as a member of the Cardinals on Friday and proudly sported a No. 25 jersey at the press conference.

Dexter Fowler, new #Cardinals leadoff hitter.

A photo posted by Derrick Goold (@dgoold) on

According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, Fowler will be wearing the No. 25 for St. Louis in honor of Bonds, who also wore the number during his 21-year playing career.

While the move may have partially been brought about by necessity (the No. 24 that Fowler wore with the Cubs is retired by the Cardinals in honor of Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog) and while Fowler’s power definitely won’t be giving us flashbacks to Bonds’ (Fowler has hit a total of 78 home runs in nine seasons — Bonds hit 73 of them in a single season), it’s still a pretty cool gesture nevertheless.

Image via FOX Sports Midwest on YouTube

Carmelo Anthony: Phil Jackson comments have cast ‘temporary black cloud’ over Knicks

carmelo-anthony

Phil Jackson continues to cause the vast majority of the New York Knicks’ off-court drama, and Carmelo Anthony is not happy about it.

Anthony was critical of the timing of Jackson’s comments about how he holds the ball too much, and also confirmed that Thursday’s cryptic Instagram posts were in relation to the situation.

“At the end of the day we’re playing good basketball,” Anthony said, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “That’s the only thing that matters at this point. So any negativity that’s coming towards me or towards the team, I don’t think we need it at this point.”

Anthony and Jackson have not spoken about the comments.

“I didn’t talk to him so I don’t know where he was coming from with those comments,” Anthony said. “If he wants to talk about it, cool. If he don’t, cool. In my eyes it’s over.

“I feel like we’re playing good basketball, and just to have a temporary black cloud over our heads. I don’t know when the comments were made or the gist of them, I just know something was said.”

Anthony added that his Instagram posts were simply a product of his emotions.

“I’m a big quote guy so there’s a million quotes in my phone,” Anthony said. “Sometimes it just pops up at the right time.”

It’s quite obvious that Anthony wasn’t happy with the content or the timing of Jackson’s comments. Between this and some other drama Jackson has sparked, Anthony and the Knicks probably wish he’d just shut up.

Celtics reportedly interested in trading for Andrew Bogut

Andrew Bogut

The Boston Celtics have largely struggled to defend the rim in the Brad Stevens era, but they may just the right solution in mind.

According to a report by Marc Stein of ESPN on Friday, the Celtics are interested in trading for Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut.

Bogut, 32, is averaging 3.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks in 25.0 minutes per game in 2016-17 but is currently sidelined with a bone bruise in his knee. He is under contract for $11 million this year and will become a free agent after the season.

The Mavericks are 4-17, so it would make sense for them to flip some of their veterans in exchange for assets. Meanwhile, the Celtics are 13-8 but rank 12th in the league in field goal percentage allowed at the rim and 26th in rebounds per game (per NBA.com).

Though Al Horford starts at the 5 for Boston, he’s played roughly 20 percent of his minutes this season at power forward (per Basketball Reference) and could hypothetically switch over to the 4 now that he’s shooting three-pointers with regularity. Pairing him with Bogut in the frontcourt would make for quite the two-way tandem, provided that the Celtics can swallow the injury risk.

H/T theScore

Steelers players willing to pay Ramon Foster’s fine for defending Le’Veon Bell

leveon-bell-giants-dirty

Pittsburgh Steelers players are prepared to stick together after one of their offensive linemen was fined for defending Le’Veon Bell.

Steelers guard Ramon Foster was fined $9,115 for tossing Giants linebacker Kelvin Sheppard out of a pileup after Sheppard appeared to pull backward on Bell’s facemask. Foster is appealing the fine, but according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, some of his teammates have said they are willing to help pay his fine if it is not overturned.

This was a response to what Bell felt was dirty play by Sheppard and the Giants. It’s no surprise that they’re sticking together after Bell and his linemen rallied against it.

Chuck Pagano makes ironic comments ripping participation trophies

Chuck Pagano

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano apparently has some different feelings than his employer about being a runner-up.

With his team currently tied for first in the AFC South division, Pagano spoke this week about how the Colts’ upcoming game against the Houston Texans — who are also 6-6 — is basically a must-win.

“There’s no trophies for second place, right? Saw a good YouTube video of a basketball coach explaining that, I think it was the women’s basketball coach from Louisville,” Pagano said. “He was talking about our society today and everybody gets trophies. I thought it was pretty good. You can finish fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and everybody goes home happy. That ain’t real life. There’s only one trophy. There’s only one division champ. That’s how they’re treating it, and that’s how we’re treating it.”

That’s all pretty cliche stuff, and it probably wouldn’t be hilarious if Pagano worked for a team other than the Colts. Remember this?

Yup, the Colts literally hung up their own version of a participation trophy a couple years back, and they were ripped apart for it. Pagano might want to check with his bosses about the importance of second place. They seem to appreciate it just fine.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Jerry Jones believes he can talk Tony Romo out of leaving Dallas

tony-romo-press-conference

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones really, truly believes he can find a way to keep Tony Romo in Dallas.

Jones accepts that Romo will never be comfortable being a backup quarterback, but he told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News that he firmly believes he can convince his veteran quarterback to stay with the team for 2017.

“I think Tony is going to compete. He will never accept it,” Jones said. “But do I think it is possible that he could be in Dallas and it’s good for him and good for us and be the smart thing to do? How many times have we ever seen one drawn up where you see that kind of depth at the quarterback position? How many times do you have to be reminded if we had the concussion protocol the way we had it today, Troy Aikman wouldn’t have played in the second Super Bowl.”

When all is said and done, Jones believes he can persuade Romo to adopt that role.

“I do,” he said. “I think if I ask Tony to go with us on that and let’s try to win a championship, I think, yes, he will.”

That’s some serious optimism. Romo has lost his job to Dak Prescott, who doesn’t look like he’s going to be giving it up. We also know that Romo wanted to try to win his starting job back this season. Jones may just be engaging in some wishful thinking here. It’s hard to imagine Romo being fine with a backup role if a trade opportunity becomes available.

Brandon Marshall shares incredibly racist letter he received from fan

brandon-marshall-broncos

Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall on Friday decided to give fans a glimpse into some of the incredibly cruel letters professional athletes get from fans.

Marshall shared a photo on his Instagram account that showed a hand-written letter he received. The content of the later is so vulgar we’d prefer not to post it here, but here’s the caption Marshall included with it:

“The hatred by some against people of color is one of the reasons we are where we’re at in the world today, and they wonder why we feel the way we do and take the stances that we take. I received this letter at work.”

Sadly, pro athletes get messages like that all the time. They usually try to avoid giving the sender attention by sharing them, but you can understand why Marshall was upset enough to pass this one along.

We saw a similar example of that kind of hatred when fans sent the Atlanta Braves letters about Hank Aaron a couple years back. There are just some horrible people in the world.

Derek Carr refuses to blame injured finger for poor game

derek-carr-finger

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr came up with his worst performance of the season on Thursday night in Kansas City, and naturally, people wondered if his injured finger play a role.

Carr refused to blame that injury, however, saying it was simply one of those nights.

It’s worth noting that Carr suffered his finger injury two weeks ago now, and he beat Buffalo in spite of it. He’s said everything is fine with it as well. Kansas City is a very good team. As he said, it was a terrible time to have a game with a 41.7 QB rating, but the finger may not have been the biggest reason.

Gregg Popovich calls out Spurs for tendency to start slowly

Gregg Popovich

The San Antonio Spurs have a bad habit of getting off to slow starts, and coach Gregg Popovich is tired of it.

Popovich called his team out for that habit on Thursday in the wake of the Spurs’ 95-91 loss to Chicago, their first road defeat of the season.

Nobody is harder on the Spurs than Pop is. It’s even that way when they win. He expects them to work as hard as possible to play a clean game of basketball, and when they don’t, he’s not afraid to say so.

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