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Saturday, June 23, 2018

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Peyton Manning expects Drew Brees to break his records

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning knows that some of his passing records won’t last, and he figures Drew Brees is next in line to break them.

Manning spoke from his Manning Passing Academy on Friday and talked with The Times-Picayune. The New Orleans paper asked Manning about Brees being on his tail for some of the passing records, and Manning handled the questions with grace.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘if’; it’s just a matter of ‘when.’ He deserves it, and he’s been a great player for a long time,” Manning said of Brees breaking his records.

“When he breaks the touchdown record … he will get it next year if not this year. I know when he breaks any of these records it’s not going to mean as much if the Saints don’t win the game that day. He certainly deserves it.”

Brees trails Manning and Brett Favre in career passing yards by just under 1,500 yards and should surpass that mark during the upcoming season. Brees and Tom Brady are tied for third in career passing touchdowns with 488 and are 20 behind Favre and 51 behind Manning. That record will probably stand for another year, as Manning said.

Even if those marks are surpasses, Manning will still have his name prevalent throughout the NFL record books, and at least he doesn’t seem to be bitter about his records being broken, unlike some others.

Eight biggest disappointments of the World Cup so far

Lionel Messi

The 2018 FIFA World Cup has been a good one so far, and the group stages look primed for drama to the last day. However, even a good tournament has disappointments, be they stylistic or teams and players failing to live up to expectations.

So what groups, players, teams, and aspects of the World Cup have been a letdown so far? Here are eight of them that could stand to pick up their games as the tournament moves through its second week.

8) CONMEBOL

South America is packed with two traditional powerhouses in Brazil and Argentina, plus a 2014 quarterfinalist in Colombia. In all, they got five teams into the tournament, but thus far, they only have three wins to show for it. Two of them are thanks to Uruguay against inferior opposition, while the third is Brazil’s late show against Costa Rica on Friday. Argentina, whom we’ll get to later, have yet to win a game, while Peru are out of contention for the knockout rounds with a game to spare. There is plenty of time to turn it around, but the South American confederation has work to do.

(more…)

Twitter reacts to Mo Bamba’s perfect jersey number choice

Mo Bamba

Mo Bamba is already nailing his first order of business as a member of the Orlando Magic.

The rookie big man, who was drafted sixth overall by the Magic, was officially introduced on Friday and revealed his perfect choice of jersey … No. 5.

Many immediately drew a parallel to the iconic ’90s one-hit wonder “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega, and it led to some fantastic reactions on Twitter.

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Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox deny knowledge of reported investigation

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez and the Boston Red Sox are denying any knowledge of a reported investigation involving the slugger, while MLB has no comment on the report.

Reporter Michelle McPhee teased some “issues” Ramirez was facing regarding an ongoing federal and state investigation.

“Obviously, I know absolutely nothing about sports or Hanley Ramirez’s stats, but what I do know is crime,” McPhee said on The Sports Hub in Boston Friday. “And there has been some reports about a FaceTime phone call that was made between a man at a car stop. After that car stop, police recovered a significant amount of drugs. And during that car stop, the suspect claimed that one of the items found in the vehicle belonged to Hanley Ramirez and then FaceTimed him in front of police. And that car stop coordinated with the timing of his release from the Red Sox.”

McPhee said the person who was pulled over — not Ramirez — was found with “435 grams of fentanyl and crack cocaine.”

“There is a sweeping federal case involving a substantial ring that’s being operated out of Lawrence, Massachusetts,” McPhee said. “And I think the suspect had ties to that ring.”

For those doubting the credibility of McPhee, keep in mind that she was often ahead of the curve with the Aaron Hernandez investigation.

Ramirez was released by the Red Sox on May 25 in a move that caught many by surprise. Although Ramirez was slumping, he had started out the season hot and nobody saw his release coming.

Red Sox VP of Media Relations Kevin Gregg said the team was unaware of any investigation regarding Ramirez.

Ramirez’s agent also said Hanley denied knowledge of the allegations or investigation.

MLB offered no comment.

What’s interesting is that at the time of his release, the Red Sox emphasized that Ramirez was released for “baseball reasons.” While there was suspicion that this was done to avoid a grievance, there is now additional reason to wonder about the specific choice of language.

Although Ramirez remains a free agent, there was talk of the Orioles having interest in him. The 34-year-old former three-time All-Star was batting .254/.313/.395 this season. He is owed around $14 million by Boston for the rest of the season.

Jim Harbaugh bringing Michigan icon back to campus

Jim Harbaugh

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh is thawing relations between the school and one of its most famous athletes.

According to Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb, Harbaugh appeared on WTKA’s The M Zone to invite former Wolverine basketball star Chris Webber back to campus as an honorary captain next season, an offer Webber accepted.

This is quite a significant deal considering Webber has been estranged from Michigan athletics since his implication in a booster scandal roughly 15 years ago. Webber and the rest of the Fab Five were actually forced to disassociate for ten years as part of the NCAA penalty, but while the other four members embraced Michigan again after that period ended in 2013, Webber has never returned to campus. While he has supported the basketball team from afar, he’s made it clear that he feels that he isn’t properly appreciated by the school.

Michigan writers immediately took note of the thaw, and pointed out how interesting it was that the football program forged a breakthrough after repeated, ill-fated efforts on the basketball side of things.

Webber returning to Michigan, even if it’s associated with the football team, is a major breakthrough. That said, there’s no guarantee that it will end his ongoing feud with one of his Fab Five teammates.

Gene Steratore retiring from NFL officiating

Veteran NFL official Gene Steratore has informed the league that he is retiring from refereeing.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron confirmed Friday that Steratore had informed him of his desire to retire, having spent 15 years as an NFL official.

That will make Super Bowl LII Steratore’s final officiating assignment, which is a pretty cool way to bow out. His final season as a referee also included a rather unique moment that received both criticism and amusement.

Bryce Harper will participate in Home Run Derby on one condition

Bryce Harper

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby — on one condition.

Harper said Friday that he would be willing to participate in the derby at Nationals Park if he makes it onto the National League All-Star team.

“So count me in for the Derby if and only if I make the team,” Harper told Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post via text message. “But if I do I will be a participant in the 2018 HR Derby.”

Normally Harper making the team would be a foregone conclusion, but he’s only hitting .213, though his 19 home runs do lead the National League. He’ll probably have to rely on the fan vote, where he sat second overall in the most recent update, which would be sufficient.

This will come as music to Major League Baseball’s ears. It’s also a nice incentive for the Nationals, who can now offer up a tangible reward if their fans stuff the ballot boxes for Harper.

Astros reportedly still interested in Zach Britton despite failed trade

Zach Britton

The Astros were on the verge of acquiring relief pitcher Zach Britton from the Orioles at the trade deadline last year, but the deal fell through because of medical questions surrounding the prospects involved. Perhaps the two teams are ready to try again.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Astros remain interested in Britton heading into this year’s trade deadline. There were rumblings a year ago that the failed deal was more about Houston’s refusal to part ways with top prospects and less about failed physicals, but it’s possible those negotiations gave the Astros and O’s a good starting point.

Britton made his 2018 debut earlier this month after he missed time with a torn Achilles, and he has allowed just one hit and no runs in four appearances. He also missed much of last season with an arm injury, but he has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past several years when healthy.

Some believe Orioles owner Peter Angelos discouraged his front office from trading Britton and other top players last season, but it sounds like his stance has changed with his team toting baseball’s worst record this year.

Report: Jameis Winston suspension could be ‘major opportunity’ for little-known backup

With Jameis Winston widely expected to be suspended for multiple games to start the NFL season, conventional wisdom is that Ryan Fitzpatrick will handle a few games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018. That thought, however, may be misplaced.

Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times believes that Winston’s suspension could be a great opportunity for Ryan Griffin, currently the team’s third-string quarterback, to outplay Fitzpatrick in training camp and potentially claim the temporary starting job himself.

Griffin entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013, where he bounced between the practice squad and active roster. He has been Tampa Bay’s third-stringer since 2015. He’s never played an NFL snap, so it seems like a stretch to think that he could outdo an established veteran such as Fitzpatrick, but someone quite familiar with the team clearly believes it’s possible.

Whoever wins the job will likely have three games to make an impression. It’s not much, but it could be enough to put someone on another team’s radar, especially for an unproven commodity like Griffin.

Report: Orioles ownership will ‘probably’ sign off on Manny Machado trade

Manny Machado

The Baltimore Orioles are going nowhere this year, and the quickest way they can stock up their farm system is by trading Manny Machado. In order for them to do that, ownership has to give upper management the green light.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos and his sons, John and Louis, have a history of nixing trades. Machado is by far the team’s best player, so there has been some talk that they will do the same with the star third baseman at the trade deadline. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, that is not expected to happen.

The biggest hurdle in a potential Manny Machado deal – the ownership hurdle – may be close to being cleared, according to those in the know. If so, the chances for a deal for the superstar infielder would be near 100 percent. Orioles ownership, which now includes Peter Angelos’ sons John and Louis, according to one team source will “probably” sign off on a deal after years of blocking deals (i.e. Zach Britton last year). Meanwhile, the derby is said to be heating up.

At 21-52, the Orioles have the worst record in baseball. Machado is only 25, but he is set to become a free agent this summer and will compete with Bryce Harper for the richest contract in MLB history. It makes more sense for Baltimore to hit the reset button at this point than to commit an unprecedented amount of money to one player.

Teams will almost certainly want Machado to commit to signing a long-term deal before they give up top minor league talent for him, and there has been talk that he’s willing to do that for at least one potential trade partner.

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