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Thursday, July 30, 2015

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Paul Pierce first pitch indicates he cannot throw a baseball (Video)

Paul Pierce threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Los Angeles Dodgers game on Tuesday night in honor of “Clippers Night.” The veteran forward was likely chosen because he is one of the newest members of Doc Rivers’ squad, but he shouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t invited back.

Simply put, Pierce looked like it was the first time he had ever thrown a baseball in his life. This is the face of an embarrassed man, and rightfully so:

Paul-Pierce-first-pitch

We thought the worse pitch from an NBA player at a Dodgers game came courtesy of Nick Young last year, but at least Young’s mechanics were decent. Pierce might want to try throwing left-handed next time.

Nick Saban: I told my agent 15 times I’m not interested in Texas

Nick Saban Alabama

When Mack Brown left Texas in 2013, Nick Saban was immediately mentioned as a possible replacement. While there were reports that Saban gave serious thought to starting a new chapter with the Longhorns, the four-time national champion insists he never contemplated leaving Alabama.

Last week, an excerpt from a new book about Saban quoted Texas athletic director Steve Patterson as saying the Longhorns never made an offer to Saban. On Tuesday, Saban says he was never interested in the job despite his agent contacting him about it numerous times.

“I have an agent (Jimmy Sexton), which most coaches have, and when somebody is interested in you, they call your agent, which they did,” Saban said, per D.C. Reeves of The Tuscaloosa News. “The agent calls you, and you tell the agent ‘I’m interested’ or ‘I’m not interested.’ So (Sexton) called me about 15 times about Texas, and every time he called I said I’m not interested in talking to them, and I never will be. That’s the story. He did his job, I did my job.”

Patterson had said he did not want Saban using him for leverage against Alabama.

“I told (Sexton) if he wanted to come here and drink bourbon and eat barbecue and talk about Saban, that’d be fine,” the Texas AD said. “But I told him not to come here if he just wanted to get Saban an extension and a raise at Alabama, which I thought was his intention all along.”

There were rumors that Saban turned down a massive offer from Texas, but it sounds like it never got to that point. We wouldn’t be surprised if he used the Longhorns’ interest as leverage to get more money, but most people would have done the same.

H/T Dr. Saturday

Robert Kraft: NFL leaked false info on PSI, never corrected it

Roger Goodell

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft unloaded on the NFL on Wednesday in the wake of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension being upheld. One of Kraft’s main sticking points was that the NFL has planted false information and never bothered to correct it.

When the Deflategate scandal first erupted back in January, a report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen indicated that 11 of the 12 balls used by the Patriots during the AFC Championship Game were underinflated by two pounds. Ted Wells, who was hired by the NFL, later determined that only one ball was two pounds under, and that was after accounting for the Ideal Gas Law. That’s all explained in detail here.

In short, Mortensen’s report was inaccurate. Most people, including Kraft, believe it was leaked by the NFL.

“I will never understand why an initial erroneous report regarding the PSI level of footballs was leaked by a source from the NFL a few days after the AFC championship game, [and] was never corrected by those who had the correct information,” Kraft said Wednesday, per Pro Football Talk. “For four months, that report cast aspersions and shaped public opinion.”

Kraft feels that Roger Goodell did something similar on Tuesday when releasing his report explaining why Brady’s four-game suspension was upheld.

“Yesterday’s decision by Commissioner was released in a similar manner, under an erroneous headline that read, ‘Tom Brady destroyed his cellphone.’ This headline was designed to capture headlines across the country and obscure evidence regarding the tampering of air pressure in footballs,” Kraft said. “It intentionally implied nefarious behavior and minimized the acknowledgement that Tom provided the history of every number he texted during that relevant time frame. And we had already provided the league with every cellphone of every non-NFLPA that they requested, including head coach Bill Belichick.”

In his own statement on Wednesday, Brady tried to explain what happened to his phone. He also said that he turned over all relevant electronic communications during the appeal, though Goodell basically said the NFL didn’t have time to get in touch with the right people in an attempt to find the truth.

For the most part, even those who don’t believe Brady agree that the league has botched the entire Deflategate investigation. If Goodell’s top priority is protecting the integrity of the game, he could have worked harder to find the truth — even after Brady destroyed and/or replaced his phone.

What if the initial report from Mortensen indicated that each game ball the Patriots used was just a few ticks under the allowable limit? What if we knew from the start that there were two different gauges used to check the balls, and referee Walt Anderson wasn’t certain which one he used? You can’t blame Kraft for thinking that would have drastically changed the narrative.

Robert Kraft apologizes for accepting team Deflategate penalty: ‘I was wrong’

Robert Kraft

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Wednesday addressed the league’s decision to uphold Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. In doing so, Kraft apologized for accepting sanctions against his team back in May.

Kraft said that he was “wrong” numerous times during his short press conference and made it clear that he felt accepting the loss of draft picks and the largest fine against a team in NFL history would persuade Roger Goodell to reduce or overturn Brady’s suspension.

“I want to apologize to the fans,” Kraft said. “Back in May, I chose to make a difficult decision that I now regret. I was wrong to put my faith in the league. I was willing to accept the harshest penalty in the history of NFL, for an alleged ball violation, because I believed it would help Tom.”

If nothing else, you have to give Kraft credit for not hiding behind lawyers. It was obvious that he suddenly reconciled with Goodell two months ago because he was hopeful that the commissioner would exonerate Brady. The question is was Kraft assuming, or did Goodell assure him that it would be taken care of?

Kraft was also upset that the league has a history of reducing suspensions upon appeal but did not budge in this instance, despite a lack of concrete evidence.

“It is routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal,” he said. “In the vast majority of these cases, there is tangible and hard evidence of the infraction for which the the discipline is being imposed, and still the initial penalty gets reduced. Six months removed from the AFC Championship Game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs. I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady.”

Kraft made it clear that he believes everything Brady said in his statement on Wednesday morning. He also questioned the league’s motive in making a headline out of the allegedly destroyed cell phone, which makes sense when you read this argument.

Off to federal court we go.

Drew Storen not happy about Jonathan Papelbon trade

Drew-Storen-TinkerbellThe Washington Nationals bolstered their bullpen on Tuesday when they acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies. But it could take a while before one of Papelbon’s new teammates offers to buy him dinner.

Drew Storen has been closing games for the Nationals all season, and he has been very effective in that role. The 27-year-old is tied for third in the majors with 29 saves and boasts a 1.73 ERA. So why are the Nats giving Papelbon his job?

“Papelbon is our ninth-inning pitcher,” Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said Tuesday, per MASN’s Chris Johnson. “Drew will pitch the ninth inning at times when Papelbon’s not available and be our set-up guy in the eighth inning as we constructed today.”

As you might expect, Storen does not seem pleased.

“Really, all I’m gonna say is that obviously I’m aware of the move,” he told reporters. “I’ve talked to (Rizzo) about it. I’ve talked to my agent. We’ve had some ongoing discussions. Until those have progressed, I’m just gonna leave it at that and no comment for now. But as the situation goes, I’ll keep you guys posted.”

Papelbon has pitched well this season, too. He has converted all 17 of his save opportunities (the Phillies aren’t good) and has a 1.59 ERA. He also has more big-game experience than Storen, who has blown just two saves.

Papelbon has been a full-time closer for the past 10 seasons. Perhaps the Nationals feel that Storen is better equipped to change roles, especially given Papelbon’s reputation for flying off the handle.

In any event, the Nationals are on track to make the playoffs. Assuming they can make everyone happy down the stretch, the team will have one of the deepest bullpens in baseball.

Cowboys reportedly not interested in Ray Rice

Ray Rice

The Dallas Cowboys have not ruled out the possibility of signing a veteran running back during the preseason, but they apparently have no interest in a three-time Pro Bowler with a history of domestic violence.

According to Charean Williams of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys will not be bringing in former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Plenty have speculated that Dallas could take a flier on Rice depending how Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar look, but it seems highly unlikely.

The Cowboys already signed one player this offseason who has been accused of domestic violence in Greg Hardy, and having two on the same roster might not be a great look.

Rice’s age isn’t helping his cause at this point, as he turned 28 in January. His best days are likely behind him even without the video of him punching his wife hanging over his head. Despite the NFL Players Association’s insistence that teams are blackballing Rice, the truth is he simply isn’t worth the bad publicity now that his skills are likely in decline.

Tom Brady: We turned over all emails, cell phone records Ted Wells requested

Tom Brady

If only for just a few minutes, let’s assume Tom Brady panicked and destroyed his cell phone. Perhaps he had things on his phone that he was worried would be leaked to the public, but what if they had nothing to do with the inflation level of footballs?

Brady is a celebrity. His wife is a supermodel. Had we been talking about a team-issued phone, this would be a different story. Does destroying a phone on or around the day you are supposed to be interviewed look terrible? Of course, but is it out of the realm of possibility that he didn’t trust the NFL — the same organization that probably leaked this bogus report about the PSI level of game balls early on — to not leak the other stuff that may have been on his phone?

Maybe Brady cheated and felt that it was better to deal with the backlash from destroying a phone than it was to be caught redhanded. But on Wednesday, Brady claimed in a statement that he tried to “reconcile” at his appeal by turning over any electronic communications that Ted Wells had requested.

“To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested,” Brady wrote. “We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, the NFL knows that Mr. Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr. Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing.”

Not surprisingly, Goodell made little mention of this in explaining his appeal ruling. The commissioner only said that Brady offered up names of all the people he had been in contact with and that, basically, the league didn’t have time to contact all of them.

The one thing people seem to be forgetting is that in defending his investigation, Wells said that he told Brady and his legal team that they could go through the cell phone records and electronic communications and turn over anything they felt was relevant. Wells himself said that he would have been fine with Brady not handing over the actual phone. So, if what Brady says is true, how is that different from what he did during the appeal?

I don’t blame you if you think Brady is a cheater. The stuff we learned about his old cell phone looks pretty bad. But if you don’t believe the NFL is forcing the public to focus on the broken cell phone just to suit its overall narrative, you have a lot to learn about the league.

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong, replaced a broken phone

Tom-Brady-white-sweater

Tom Brady released a statement on Wednesday morning addressing the NFL’s decision to uphold his four-game suspension. Sticking with the theme of the past six months, the New England Patriots quarterback claimed he is completely innocent.

“I am very disappointed by the NFL’s decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me,” Brady began. “I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.”

Brady also noted that he disagrees with the narrative surrounding his cell phone. One of the main reasons Roger Goodell upheld the suspension was evidence indicating that Brady destroyed his personal phone on or around the day he was scheduled to be interviewed by Ted Wells. Brady claims he simply replaced a broken phone.

“I also disagree with yesterdays narrative surrounding my cellphone,” he wrote. “I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.

“Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January. To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.”

During the appeal, Brady claims he and his legal team “exhausted every possibility” to turn over as many emails, text messages and relevant communications as possible. He called the controversy “manufactured” to distract from the fact that there is no actual evidence of wrongdoing.

There probably isn’t much Brady can say at this point to sway public opinion. But in order to stand a chance in federal court, he will have to prove that he didn’t intentionally destroy his phone to hide evidence. It’s hard to believe that his cell phone was coincidentally broken after you hear this piece information, but a federal judge may believe Brady or rule in his favor.

Omar Infante, Alcides Escobar combine for highlight reel play (Video)

Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar combined for one heck of a defensive highlight on Tuesday night.

During the 9th inning of Kansas City’s 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians, Infante went up the middle to the shortstop side of the field, backhanded a grounder by Roberto Perez and flipped to Escobar, who made a barehanded grab and threw on to first for the out. That was all to get the first out of the inning in a 1-run game.

Royals defense

Kansas City held on for the win and is now 61-38, giving them the best record in the AL by a solid margin.

Del talks Tom Brady fallout with The Tuck and O’Neill Show in Orlando

Tuck-Oneill

Shortly after the NFL announced on Tuesday that Tom Brady’s four-game suspension has been upheld, I joined The Tuck and O’Neill Show on Sports Talk 1080 The Team in Orlando to discuss what the future holds for the reining Super Bowl MVP.

As most of you have heard, the NFL discovered that Brady destroyed his cell phone on or around the day that he was scheduled to be interviewed by Ted Wells, and his excuse for why he did so doesn’t make much sense. We spoke about that and much more during the interview, including whether Brady has any chance of succeeding in federal court and how Deflategate affects his legacy.

You can listen to the interview below:

Just a reminder: the staff members at Larry Brown Sports including myself, Larry Brown (founder and expert on many sports topics), and Gordon Dixon (MLB/Baltimore sports) are available as radio guests for your program. You can email us at info@larrybrownsports.como if you are interested in having one of us on your show. All interviews will be promoted here on the site.

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