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Monday, October 23, 2017

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Report: Nationals to interview Dave Martinez for managerial job

The Washington Nationals are scrambling to find a replacement for Dusty Baker, and have turned to a longtime major league coach as a possibility.

The Nationals will reportedly speak with Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez about their vacancy, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post.

Martinez has been Joe Maddon’s right hand man since 2008, when he joined his staff with the Tampa Bay Rays. He moved to Chicago with Maddon in 2015. Even before then, he was mentioned as a managerial candidate pretty much every offseason, but has never actually landed a job. Perhaps the Nationals could change that, particularly with one of their main candidates now off the board.

Genie Bouchard recalls Super Bowl bet during latest Patriots-Falcons game

Genie Bouchard Wimbledon

Almost everyone who watched Super Bowl LI thought the game was over at halftime, but women’s pro tennis player Genie Bouchard put her money where her mouth was in a big way. During the latest game between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, fans on social media did not let her forget it.

If you remember, Bouchard tweeted that she “knew Atlanta would win” after the Falcons jumped out to a massive lead over the Patriots back in February. One fan then proposed that he go on a date with Bouchard if New England pulled off the comeback, and the rest was history.

Fast forward to Sunday night, when the Patriots once again defeated the Falcons in a pretty boring game.

Bouchard learned her lesson the first time, so it doesn’t look like she made any more promises. To her credit, she followed through after Tom Brady orchestrated one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

Last we heard, Bouchard was very much spoken for. If that’s still the case, her boyfriend probably doesn’t want her making anymore bets during Patriots games.

Are the Steelers going to give Martavis Bryant what he wants?

Martavis Bryant

Martavis Bryant can mock the reports about him wanting out of Pittsburgh all he wants, but it seems quite obvious that he would prefer if the Steelers traded him.

Bryant caught just one pass for three yards in Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Emerging rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster didn’t exactly turn heads, but he once again drew more targets than Bryant and was more productive. In an Instagram comment he later deleted, Bryant made it clear he is disgruntled.

“JuJu is no where near better than me, fool,” Bryant wrote. “All they need to do is give me what I want and y’all can have JuJu and whoever else.”

Bryant paid Smith-Schuster some compliments in a later comment, but the message was already received.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network originally reported earlier in the month that Bryant has asked the Steelers to trade him. Bryant later mocked that report with a pretty funny comment, but he is probably just trying to downplay it to avoid tension in the locker room.

A source close to Bryant told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Sunday that Bryant “wants out, point blank.” The 25-year-old’s Instagram activity following an important win in a divisional game all but confirmed that.

Of course, Bryant has been suspended multiple times for positive drug tests. Even if the Steelers try to trade him, they probably aren’t going to get much in return.

Alvin Gentry has ultimate compliment for Lonzo Ball

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry believes in the Big Baller way.

Before his team played the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Gentry paid rookie guard Lonzo Ball the ultimate compliment by saying that he couldn’t see how Ball could possibly fail, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.

While Gentry’s players seem much less enthused by the rookie, it’s certainly high praise from somebody who has coached in the NBA for decades and been around elite point guards such as Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and Stephen Curry. Ball has been drawing rave reviews from other basketball higher-ups as well, and it’s becoming obvious that he is much more than just empty hype.

Doug Baldwin: Sideline spat with Tom Cable was ‘100 percent my fault’

Doug Baldwin Tom Cable

Doug Baldwin got physical with a member of the Seattle Seahawks coaching staff during Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, and the star wide receiver later took responsibility for what happened.

With Seattle trailing 7-0 midway through the second quarter, Baldwin was caught by television cameras shoving offensive line coach Tom Cable. The two were later shown having a friendly exchange, and Baldwin said after the game that he apologized to Cable.

“I lost my cool. It’s 100 percent my fault,” Baldwin told reporters, per ESPN’s Brady Henderson. “At that moment, I was really frustrated with the offense as a whole. Not the coaching staff — the players. Again, it goes back to our X’s and O’s. We had the playcalls. We just didn’t execute. Whether it was passing the ball, blocking, catching, jumping offsides, false starting, whatever it may be, we weren’t executing as players, and to me there is nothing a coach can say. We have to take accountability for that.”

Animated sideline discussions can sometimes look a lot worse on camera than they actually are. Still, Baldwin understands that shoving a coach is never a good look.

“Y’all know I love Cable to death,” the receiver added. “Me and Cable have one of the best relationships from coach to player. That was 100 percent my fault. I already apologized to him. He knows how I am. It’s just at that moment, the players needed to realize it’s the players — it’s not the coaches.”

Things got much better for the Seahawks after the heated sideline discussion, and they went on to cruise to a 24-7 win. Baldwin caught nine passes for 92 yards.

Ezekiel Elliott will play in Week 8 after judge denies request to expedite case

Ezekiel Elliott

If Ezekiel Elliott is going to have his six-game suspension reinstated, it will have to wait at least another week.

Elliott received a temporary restraining order last week that blocks his suspension for 14 days, at which point a judge will rule on whether the suspension should stand or the star running back will be granted a preliminary injunction. In response to that, the NFL filed a request to expedite Elliott’s case so a ruling would be made before the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins in Week 8. That request has been denied.

It still seems likely that Elliott is eventually going to come out on the losing end of the battle, but the case is playing out similar to the way Tom Brady’s Deflategate case unfolded. With a series of court filings and appeals, Brady dragged out his case long enough to allow him to play the entire 2015 season. However, he ended up serving his four-game suspension at the start of last season.

Some of the comments Jerry Jones has made about Elliott’s case make it seem like the Cowboys are not all that concerned. Zeke rushed for 147 yards on 26 carries and added a 72-yard touchdown reception in Sunday’s win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Jimmy Butler did not want Ricky Rubio in Timberwolves’ locker room

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler had no interest in fraternizing with a former Timberwolves player after facing him on Saturday night.

The Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda reported on Saturday that Butler told authorities not to let Ricky Rubio into Minnesota’s locker room if he tried to visit following a game between the T-Wolves and Rubio’s new team, the Utah Jazz.

Minnesota won the game 100-97. Rubio had a fine statistical line against his former team and is trying to show what he can do in a bigger role. But Utah is his team now, and the Timberwolves, who drafted him No. 5 overall in 2009 have a new culture. Butler clearly doesn’t want the two things mixing now. You have to respect his attitude.

Le’Veon Bell says Vontaze Burfict ‘gotta go’ after dirty hit

Le'Veon Bell

Vontaze Burfict’s latest dirty play against the Steelers is not sitting well with many of Pittsburgh’s players.

Burfict was seen kicking Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix in the face early in the Cincinnati Bengals’ loss to their rivals on Sunday.

The play got some attention during the game but even more afterwards.

Running back Le’Veon Bell said that Burfict’s actions did not constitute a “respectable play.”

Bell also commented on the video via Twitter, saying Burfict “gotta go” for that play.

Burfict has a long history of dirty plays, particularly against the Steelers. He is likely to face discipline from the league.

15 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 7

Falcons Patriots

NFL Week 7 offered another nasty spate of injuries, a few blowouts, and some remarkable performances by numerous players. As usual, though, there were a good number of players who didn’t really show up when their teams needed them to. Be it an unexpected change in plans or simply being outclassed by their opponents, a list of stars and units with high expectations simply left a lot to be desired in Week 7.

Here’s a list of 15 big disappointments from this week’s slate of NFL games.

Atlanta Falcons

Few teams had more motivation entering their Week 7 game than the Atlanta Falcons. After blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl last season, the Falcons surely wanted revenge on the Patriots. Instead, they served up a stinker in Foxboro.

Facing what’s been one of the worst defenses in the league this season, the Falcons were shutout nearly the entire game and managed just seven points, which were scored with only around four minutes left in the contest. Atlanta didn’t commit any turnovers, but they found other ways to shoot themselves in the foot. They had one field goal blocked, missed another, and they failed to punch things in from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter. The Falcons were only 2-for-9 on third-down conversions and 1-for-3 on fourth-down conversions. This was not their finest moment.

Vontaze Burfict, LB, Bengals

Burfict’s statline was unremarkable, as he contributed four tackles but little else. The real issue is his conduct. The Bengals linebacker was spotted kicking Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix in the head as a play came to a halt. This would be bad enough by itself, but it’s even worse when you consider who did it. This is Burfict — one of the league’s dirtiest players — who should really know better by now. He doesn’t, and he’ll probably never learn, and the NFL will probably want to speak with him about this — with good reason.

(more…)

Andrew Wiggins did not think his game-winning shot was going in

The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday 115-113 in one heck of a finish.

First Carmelo Anthony hit a 3-pointer to put the Thunder up by a point with under five seconds to go. Then it was Andrew Wiggins who responded by banking in a buzzer-beater to give Minnesota a 2-point win.

After the game, Wiggins said he didn’t think his shot was going in when he released the ball.

“I didn’t. I didn’t,” Wiggins said when asked if he thought it was going in.

Wiggins and teammate Ricky Rubio then celebrated on social media.

Wiggins had 27 points in the game, which tied with teammate Karl-Anthony Towns for the team lead.

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