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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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Antone Smith on Jadeveon Clowney: “I don’t see anything special”

Jadeveon Clowney hitDuring Saturday’s preseason game between the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons, the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft announced his presence during the first quarter with impressive displays on back-to-back plays.

First, Jadeveon Clowney darted into the Falcons’ backfield and dropped running back Antone Smith. He followed that up with a sack of Matt Ryan.

While many watching at home were impressed with Clowney’s efforts, one of his victims was not.

During an interview with Sports Radio 610 in Houston, Antone Smith downplayed the hit and hype surround Jadeveon Clowney.

“Just a guy,” Smith said of Clowney. “I don’t see anything special. He’s just a guy. He’s a guy who plays defensive end. He plays pretty good. Made a good play.”

Tell us how you really feel, Antone.

For those wondering who Antone Smith is, he was undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft and spent some time on the Houston Texans practice squad before signing with the Atlanta Falcons. He appeared in 15 games for the Falcons last season and rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns.

H/T ProFootballTalk

Report: War Machine had Taser used on him during arrest

War Machine mug shot

When War Machine was arrested on Friday in Simi Valley after evading the police for several days, an official statement from the Simi Valley Police Department indicated that the former Bellator MMA fighter was taken into custody “without incident.” I don’t know about you, but to me the use of a Taser indicates there was some sort of incident.

KTLA News reports that authorities used a Taser to subdue War Machine, whose real name is Jon Koppenhaven, and may have thought he was wielding a gun.

“And they were like banging on the door, trying to get it open, and they’re like, ‘Open the door, open the door,” Nicolle Blankenship, a guest who was staying at the same hotel, explained. “Finally when they got it open they yelled, ‘Gun,’ and then all of a sudden you see them shoot him with a Taser. And he got shot with a Taser and he went down to the floor, and then they handcuffed him.”

[GRAPHIC: Christy Mack posts photos injury photos after alleged War Machine attack]

Another guest who was staying at the Extended Stay America in Simi Valley said she called police after she saw a “big dude” yelling at and getting physical with a small woman. War Machine reportedly grabbed the woman by the hair while she was attempting to calm him down.

Given what we already know about War Machine, we would be surprised if he simply put his hands on his head and went quietly. This is the same guy who allegedly beat Christy Mack and the man she was with. He also ran from the police for days while there were seven warrants out for his arrest. A Taser sounds pretty believable to me.

Mike Scioscia: Josh Hamilton not the same player he was with Rangers

Josh HamiltonMike Scioscia isn’t exactly thrilled with the type of production — or lack thereof — he’s received from Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton is only hitting .216 with a .630 OPS since the All-Star break and went 1-for-5 with 4 strikeouts Friday against the Rangers. That prompted Scioscia to say Saturday that Hamilton isn’t the player he was with Texas when he was a 5-time All-Star, won the 2009 AL MVP and commanded a 5-year, $125 million contract from the Angels.

“Josh is not the same that we saw when we were looking at the other dugout,” Scioscia said via the Dallas Morning News. “He’s not in the batter’s box with the confidence we know he has. He’s not attacking the ball like he can. He’s working hard to try to find it …but we need him to do what he’s capable of doing, or close to that.”

Despite being exasperated with Hamilton, Scioscia says he is not moving the outfielder from the cleanup spot in the lineup.

Though Hamilton has struggled lately, his regular season numbers could be worse. He’s batting .266/.339/.414 this season and was really scorching before going down with a thumb injury. Sometimes that’s all it takes to take a player out of his rhythm.

If Scioscia maintains confidence in Hamilton, I’m sure the outfielder will come around. He’s always been a streak hitter and will likely get hot again before too long. Maybe Scioscia is trying to motivate Hamilton by talking him down.

Paul Heyman explains why Brock Lesnar wrestles part-time

Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar is headlining SummerSlam with his match against John Cena, which will be one of his few wrestling appearances for the WWE this year. Knowing that the fans love him and that he does huge ratings, why doesn’t Lesnar wrestle more? His manager Paul Heyman explained that they take a less is more/exclusivity approach.

“Brock Lesnar is not here 365 days a year, so when he appears, it’s can’t miss, it’s something extraordinary, it’s must see, it’s something special,” Heyman said in an interview on DC101. “Besides, if Brock Lesnar wrestled every single week, he would wipe out the entire WWE and in three months we’d have no one left to work with!”

That last line is a funny quote from one of the best managers in the business, but that first statement really makes sense. It’s like the theory behind clubs. If they let everyone in, then it wouldn’t be so great and desirable, would it? It’s the exclusivity that makes something special or unique. The fact that Lesnar only wrestles on rare occasions makes his matches an even bigger deal.

Barry Larkin got calls from agents, execs on Pierce Jones

Pierce Jones LLWS

Pierce Jones was the talk of the Little League World Series after going 4-for-4 with 3 home runs and a triple in his first game at Williamsport Thursday. He played so well and looked so good that MLB personnel took note.

Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, who was serving as an analyst for ESPN for Jones’ Jackie Robinson West Little League game Thursday — a 12-2 win over the team from Washington — said on the air the next day that he was hearing from agents and MLB executives who were asking about Jones.

Jones is still a good 5-6 years away from being draft-eligible, but this gives you an idea of how much he stood out. It also gives you an idea of how aggressive some agents and execs can be when it comes to spotting and signing talent.

How good will Jones be a handful of years from now? Nobody knows. Some kids are stars at 12 years old because they are bigger and stronger than their competition at that age, but once everyone else catches up, they’re no longer great. It doesn’t look like that will be the case for Jones; he looked legit.

Fan runs onto field during West Ham-Tottenham game, takes free kick (Video)

Fan free kickIf you’re going to run onto the field during a game and get arrested, at least go down swinging. Or, in this case, kicking.

One fan invaded the pitch ran onto the field during Saturday’s West Ham-Tottenham game prior to a Christian Eriksen free kick in the second half. The dude managed to kick the ball prior to Eriksen’s attempt.

The fan, who was later arrested, was identified as a 22-year-old from Kent. He looks like a real thug:

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Team USA wears shooting shirts to honor Paul George

paul-george-stretcher-smallPaul George was unable to participate in Saturday’s exhibition game between Team USA and Brazil, but he was still prominently featured.

When Anthony Davis, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and company took the floor at United Center in Chicago, they did so wearing special shooting shirts which honored their injured teammate.

The shirts displayed the phrase “United We Stand” and George’s initials.

During the broadcast, ESPN’s Mark Jones and Fran Fraschilla interviewed George via telephone. Among the topics of discussion was the two-time All-Star reiterating his desire to play for the 2016 Olympic team.

Jay-Z to blame for Kevin Durant quitting Team USA?

Kevin Durant Jay-Z

Kevin Durant pulled out of Team USA two weeks ago much to the shock of USA Basketball coaches, players and executives. Durant cited mental and physical fatigue as his reason for quitting the team during the middle of training camp, only weeks away from the start of the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

“After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint,” Durant said in a statement. “I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.”

Though many took Durant for his word — and he certainly has earned the benefit of the doubt — there has been a lot of skepticism about KD’s reason for quitting the team.

USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo said Durant pulled out because of contractual obligations, but he later issued one of those “clarifications.”

We speculated that Durant pulled out because he’s concerned with his next big shoe/apparel endorsement contract. It sounds like that is the case.

In a long, rambling, and at times incoherent opinion piece, Chris Sheridan says Jay-Z, who is the man behind Durant’s new agency Roc Nation Sports, is to blame for KD withdrawing from the team.

Though Sheridan never explicitly states what Jay-Z did, he says Durant’s agent is behind the surprising decision.

And what I have discovered in talking to members of the U.S. federation over the past two days is this: Durant and his agency, Roc Nation, are more interested in cashing in on his MVP award and his expiring Nike deal than they are in having Durant keep his word to the people who were with him in 2010 in Turkey at the World Championship and in 2012 in London at the Olympics.

Sheridan points out that since signing with Jay-Z, Durant has ended many of his previous business relationships. He ended his endorsement deal with Gatorade in favor of Sparkling Ice. He is now shopping around shoe/apparel companies even though he’s been with Nike since entering the NBA.

The implication is that Durant/Jay-Z/Roc Nation are more concerned with setting up his business deals than having him participate with Team USA.

For instance, Durant spent the day at Under Armour’s headquarters on Wednesday. UA is a Maryland-based company and reportedly was preparing a monster offer for the reigning NBA MVP. Sheridan also says adidas is preparing a big offer for Durant and that the Thunder forward re-signing with Nike is still a possibility.

Sheridan mentions that Durant may not have wanted to spend several weeks around Nike people (Nike sponsors USA Basketball) while he is shopping for a new deal.

Overall, it comes across as though Sheridan has more inside information on the subject than he can share, but he feels strongly enough to write a very opinionated piece on the matter.

The bottom line is this: participation on USA Basketball is voluntary. Durant is well within his right not to play for the team. He just handled the timing of his leave very poorly.

Miss Texas Monique Evans may have thrown the worst first pitch ever (Video)

Just when you thought ceremonial first pitches couldn’t get any worse than 50 Cent’s, Miss Texas Monique Evans showed us that the worst was yet to come.

Evans threw out the first pitch prior to Friday’s Rangers-Angels game, and she totally bombed.

Evans appeared to recognize that getting it to the plate overhand was out of the question, so she attempted to toss it underhand. But the ball ended up on the ground as if she were bowling or playing some bocce ball.

Someone just needs to help her with her mechanics and let her know that you have to push off with your opposite foot! At least she gets some artistic points for her perfect finishing pose:

Miss Texas Monique Evans Rangers first pitch

Jabari Parker doesn’t want to join list of second overall pick busts

jabari-parker-bucksAfter a standout freshman season at Duke, Jabari Parker was selected with the second overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks aren’t expected to be very good this season. However, in Parker the organization feels they have someone who can be the face of the franchise. That, along with being the No. 2 pick in the draft, means expectations for the 19-year-old are high.

Aware of it takes to get where he wants, Parker seems to have the right frame of mind heading into his rookie season. He also knows there have been several chosen in the same position he was in the draft who didn’t fulfill the promise expected from them.

Brett Pollakoff from Pro Basketball Talk spoke with Parker, who emphasized he doesn’t want to join the list of players we commonly refer to as busts.

There’s been a lot of second pick busts,” Parker said Saturday morning, at the grand opening of the redesigned Jordan space inside Nike Chicago. “I’m just trying not to be that bust. Everyday that I step on the court, I just remind myself that I have a long ways to go. If I want to be one of those guys in the first tier of the NBA, like a LeBron, like a Kobe, like a [Blake Griffin], then I have to have that mentality starting off from the ground, and work my way up.”

Some players go on to become stars. Others evolve into solid role players. Then, there are the ones who never pan out. It’s the crap shoot that is the NBA Draft.

Hasheem Thabeet, Darko Milicic, and Derrick Williams were each selected second overall. All three left the teams who drafted them wanting more. Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge were picked No. 2 overall as well. To go back a little further, so was Jason Kidd.

With Jabari Parker’s career just getting underway, we will have to wait a few years to determine which end of the spectrum he falls into. The Bucks, and Parker, are certainly hoping for the positive end.

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