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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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Rangers exec Thad Levine says team gets trade ideas from Twitter

Rangers logoTexas Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine admitted the team gets trade ideas from Twitter, which means he’s not completely different from me or you.

Levine conducted an “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit last week to promote his fantasy sports charity, “Meaningful Wins.”

Levine answered just about every single question he was asked, and he gave insightful responses. Among the ones that stood out to us were his admission that the team uses Twitter for trade ideas.

From his AMA:

Q. How difficult has social media made it to keep trade or signing negotiations private? Has this impacted your approach to these things?

A. You identified one of our biggest challenges. This has impacted us unfortunately quite negatively. Used to be that we could tell all the players involved in trades before it became public. Now, that is extremely difficult to do. Last year, Ian Kinsler found out through the media that he had been traded. We felt awful, but someone called the media literally before we were able to complete a call to Ian.

That being said, at the trade deadline, we are all on twitter, because you may be surprised how many trade discussions are inspired or refined by tweets

A lot of times Twitter can be an effective tool because it’s such a good marketplace for information. Execs can use it to find out what players supposedly are available, who’s talking with whom, and what the latest rumors are. Don’t forget — an MLB.com reader predicted the Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder trade, so you can never discount crowd sourcing as an effective tool.

In addition to Twitter, Levine also says the Rangers use popular baseball sites Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference as resources.

Q. How much information do teams have access to beyond what we have as fans through sites like B-Ref, Fangraphs, and so on?

A. We scour the entire sites, and several others. We are not too proud. If there is cutting edge information out there, we want to know about it.

Those sites, and others, have done such a phenomenal job. I believe that is why you see so many clubs hiring their employees. Really the only thing that we have access to that they do not is an extensive database from our scouts. We use those sites extensively in our analysis.

In addition to those revealing responses, Levine shared some other insight about the club. He said he believed a lot of Josh Hamilton’s success with the Rangers had to do with the outfielder’s relationship with manager Ron Washington.

“Truth be told, a large part of his success here can be attributed to how open he was with Ron Washington and how much chemistry the two had.”

He also said this of relief pitcher Neftali Feliz, who used to be one of the hardest throwers in the game before injuring his arm.

“Feliz continues to regain arm strength, but i do not anticipate him returning to throwing 96-100 mph.”

Warning to any teams: if you get a call from the Rangers saying they’re looking to deal you Feliz, now you’ll know why.

Oakland Raiders voted least desirable team to play for

Darren McFadden RaidersAt one time, the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders were among the more successful NFL franchises. The silver & black was feared. “Just Win, Baby” meant something.

That seems so long ago.

The Raiders won three Super Bowls from 1976 to 1983. However, their last playoff appearance came in 2002. Since then the team has become known for draft picks that haven’t worked out (like Darrius Heyward-Bey and JaMarcus Russell) and a revolving door of head coaches.

The Raiders name has apparently lost some of its luster among players, if a poll conducted by ESPN is to be believed. The network asked current players to insert a team name into the following sentence:

“The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.”

23% of those who responded chose the Raiders. The Buffalo Bills (19%), Cleveland Browns (16%), Jacksonville Jaguars (9%) and Green Bay Packers (6%) followed. I guess playing on the frozen tundra in Green Bay can be considered a turnoff to some.

Veteran fullback Marcel Reece strongly defended the franchise upon finding out the results.

“I would play for this team if they paid me half of what they pay me, and I have taken pay cuts to stay. I guarantee you, if half those guys would have the opportunity to come play for this franchise, they’d be on board. They’d get it,” Reece said via ESPN.

Fans also haven’t been choosing the Raiders as a team for positive reasons lately.

Pete Rose screwed up his reinstatement plan from Bud Selig

Pete Rose jacket

Pete Rose had a reinstatement plan set up for him by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, but a book he put out in March derailed those plans, so says Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.

Schmidt, who has lobbied for his former teammate many times in the past, wrote a column for the Associated Press Sunday in which he argued for Rose’s reinstatement by Major League Baseball. Schmidt defends Rose, argues that a bad entourage got to the Hit King regarding the gambling, and ultimately says he wants Rose’s name to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot.

One thing to come out of Schmidt’s column that I previously was not aware of is that Selig actually had a reinstatement plan for Rose that was ruined when Charlie Hustle put out a recent book.

From Schdmit’s column:

Following Pete’s apologetic admittance to gambling after 14 years of denial, Commissioner Selig seemed in a cooperative and forgiving mood, actually helping to map out an itinerary for Pete’s possible reinstatement.

Over the following few months, things went sour, as did the commissioner’s attitude.

Pete’s penchant for bad decisions and relationships, plus a need for money, caused a premature book release in New York, which conflicted with the Hall of Fame election news conference. This was a direct hit to baseball and couldn’t have come at a worse time for Pete.

Commissioner Selig never returned to this issue with the same attitude he had that day in Milwaukee, and the Rose case file hasn’t been opened since.

I’m trying to piece together the timeline laid out by Schmidt here. The publication date of the recent Rose book, “Pete Rose an American Dilemma,” is March 11, 2014. The first review I saw for it was Jan. 12, 2014. The results of the 2014 Hall of Fame class voting were announced on Jan. 8, 2014. Seems like Rose had his book reviewed around the same time the Hall of Fame class was announced.

We don’t know all the details of the situation between Selig and Rose. Selig recently said he still has five months to think about reinstating Rose before his tenure as MLB commissioner ends. It seems like he is more than open to the possibility of reinstating Rose, but Pete just can’t get out of his own way. For younger fans, I imagine this is not too dissimilar from working with Jose Canseco, who we all know can be extremely flaky. I still bet Selig reinstates Rose for his last act as commissioner.

USC CB Josh Shaw out after jumping off balcony to save nephew

Josh Shaw USC

USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw is out indefinitely after hurting himself saving his nephew over the weekend.

Shaw was at a family function at his cousin’s apartment in his hometown of Palmdale over the weekend when he saw his 7-year-old nephew, Carter, struggling in a swimming pool. Carter cannot swim and there was no help nearby, so Shaw instinctively jumped off the second-floor balcony to help save the young boy.

Of course, real life is not like the movies where people can jump from the second story and land below without incident; Shaw landed hard on the concrete and hurt his legs, but he was able to crawl into the pool and pull his nephew to safety.

Shaw was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with two high-ankle sprains. The Trojans senior team captain expressed no regret over his injuries.

“I would do it again for whatever kid it was, it did not have to be my nephew,” Shaw said Monday via USC’s website. “My ankles really hurt, but I am lucky to be surrounded by the best trainers and doctors in the world. I am taking my rehab one day at a time, and I hope to be back on the field as soon as possible.”

USC opens up its season on Saturday against Fresno State.

Dimitri Patterson was unhappy with place on Jets’ depth chart

Dimitri-PattersonDimitri Patterson was suspended by the New York Jets indefinitely for not showing up to the team’s preseason game on Friday night and going AWOL until meeting with the team on Sunday. Now we know why he was upset.

The New York Daily News reports that Patterson was dropped on the team’s depth chart after dealing with multiple injuries over the past month. He apparently was unhappy about being dropped and did not show as a result.

“It’s safe to say that I’ve never been in a situation where a player has not shown up for a game,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said Monday.

The Jets now have to decide what they will do with Patterson, who signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with the team in April. Patterson was signed to be one of the team’s starters, but they may no longer feel he should be a part of the team after his no-show.

Sarah Palin sides with Mike Ditka in Redskins name debate

Sarah Palin Mike Ditka

Sarah Palin has weighed in on the Washington Redskins nickname debate, and unsurprisingly the former Alaska governor and vice president nominee sides with Mike Ditka in believing the nickname should stay.

Palin shared her thoughts on the nickname after being inspired by political commentator Rush Limbaugh, who predicted that Ditka could be fired by ESPN for voicing his support of the nickname. Palin expressed disappointment with the notion that Ditka could be fired and went on to defend the Redskins name.

[Previously: Mike Ditka bashes liberals, thinks Redskins name debate is stupid]

Here’s what she wrote on her Facebook page Friday:

Nothing should surprise us lately; but when the Politically Correct Police bust Ditka, they hope the silent majority will cower under leftist control. My goodness, Ditka merely spoke his mind. This accomplished and esteemed coach knows there are big issues to be addressed in America today; there’s no intent to offend by referring to a team by the name they’ve proudly worn since day one and chose with pride in our native ancestry and obviously had absolutely no intent to insult; and the liberal media’s made-up controversies divide our country. The government’s intent to force any owner of anything, in this case an NFL entity, to change a name is the antithesis of the American way of working through differences. Ditka said he actually likes the Washington Redskins, and he’s a man full of commonsense and admired patriotism. Still, I must disagree with Coach Ditka after reading his full statement:

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said. “It’s so much [expletive], it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Proudskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is. It’s been the name of the team since the beginning of football. It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. Leave it alone. These people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.”

He thinks the name should always be Washington Redskins, as a source of pride? Take the word “Washington” out and I’ll agree the team name is a great source of pride.

Yes, that’s Sarah Palin saying “Washington” is the most offensive part of the Washington Redskins name. Wait til the liberal media gets a hold of that one!

For what it’s worth, Ditka later said he could understand changing the name if American Indians found it offensive, but that they shouldn’t change it just because liberals declared it offensive. No word on Ditka’s opinion if he found out some were lobbying for the change on behalf of American Indians who told them the name was offensive.

Helmet smack to Shutdown Corner

Report: Mark Sanchez has no interest in playing for Rams

Mark-Sanchez-A-Justin-Bieber-FanFor whatever reason, Mark Sanchez to the St. Louis Rams has become a popular rumor over the past 24 hours. Sam Bradford is out for the season with another torn ACL, and journeyman Shaun Hill is currently the Rams’ best option at quarterback. Plus, Sanchez’s old offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is calling the plays in St. Louis this year.

The problem is Sanchez didn’t exactly thrive under Schottenheimer, despite reaching back-to-back AFC Championship Games. Schottenheimer is a run-first OC who is very different from the inventive Chip Kelly.  That’s probably one reason Sanchez reportedly has zero interest in being trading to the Rams. Via USA Today Sports:

But if Sanchez has anything to say about it, there’s “no chance” he’d abandon his fresh start as a backup under coach Chip Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles for a shot to rejoin Schottenheimer and play in St. Louis, a person with knowledge of Sanchez’s thinking told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday.

At age 27, Sanchez has time to reboot his once-promising career. There’s no reason to rush into a situation like the one in St. Louis, where he’d be trying to get in rhythm with new teammates at the same time the Rams are preparing for a season opener that’s just two weeks away.

Sanchez said Monday that he highly doubts a trade to St. Louis is on the table.

“I think they would say something or my agent would say something,” Sanchez said, via CSNPhilly.com’s John Gonzalez. “If those people aren’t talking to me about it, I seriously doubt it’s happening.”

The interesting thing is that Sanchez is only 27 and is firmly planted behind Nick Foles on the Philadelphia Eagles depth chart. He stands virtually no chance of starting this season if Foles stays healthy, and he certainly won’t be taking Foles’ job in the future if Foles continues to play well.

Wouldn’t Sanchez rather start somewhere, even if it means reuniting with an OC he didn’t really see eye-to-eye with? Apparently not, and it doesn’t really matter. The Rams sound like they’re set on giving Hill a shot.

H/T Eye on Football

Mo’ne Davis has sick handles in basketball (Video)

Mo’ne Davis gained fame last week as the star pitcher for the Taney Dragons who became the first girl to win a Little League World Series game.

Representing the Mid Atlantic region, Davis went 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 8.1 innings for Taney. She also was 1-for-8 with two walks.

Despite her success playing baseball through this point of her life, Davis has stated that her goal is to play point guard for UConn’s women’s basketball team, which is the top program in the country. As the video at the top shows, Davis has some pretty serious dribbling skills.

That video is over four years old, meaning the 13-year-old Davis was probably 9 or 10 when it was recorded. We imagine she’s still embarrassing opponents with her superior skills.

Mo'Ne Davis Taney

H/T Deadspin

Richard Sherman: Fantasy football is reason for illegal contact emphasis

richard-sherman-cancer-adIf you have watched any NFL preseason action, you know that the league is placing an emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding this year. There have been a ton of defensive holding calls over the past few weeks, sometimes to the point where the games have been painful to watch. Richard Sherman thinks fantasy football is the reason for that.

During a chat with NBC’s Josh Elliott that aired on Sunday Night Football, Sherman was asked for his thoughts on what many have deemed the new NFL.

“You know, when the fantasy football numbers need to be what they need to be, the league needs to do what it needs to do to get it done,” he said. “This is a money-driven league. Whatever sells the tickets is gonna sell the tickets.”

But, of course, Sherman isn’t worried about how it will affect him on a personal level.

“I don’t think it affects our game at all,” he said. “If you look at the statistics, the way the preseason is going, it’s rarely ever affected us in a game.”

There is a common belief that the Seahawks are actually the reason the NFL told officials to start emphasizing illegal contact. Seattle’s dominant, but physical, play on defense resulted in a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl — the third largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history. The NFL would have liked a much closer game.

The NFL also wants to see more scoring, and fantasy football is one of the reasons for that. Heck, there’s a fantasy football lounge at the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium. In many ways, Sherman is right. The officials will likely ease up a bit when the regular season starts, but they’re clearly going to favor the receiver more than they have in the past.

Video via The Big Lead

Denard Robinson calls Michigan State ‘little brothers’ again

Denard RobinsonDenard Robinson loves to rib his Michigan State rivals and did it once again last week.

You may recall last year that the former Michigan Wolverines quarterback was asked to rank the school’s rivals and put Michigan State third behind Ohio State and Notre Dame. He even called the Spartans the Wolverines’ “little brothers.”

Well, Robinson did it again after his Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Detroit Lions 13-12 in a preseason game on Friday. He said it when asked about Michigan State winning the Rose Bowl last season.

“It did sting, but at the end of the day the Big Ten won the Rose Bowl,” he said via the Detroit Free Press. “It was good that they won it, our little brothers won it and pulled it out for the Big Ten.”

Knowing full well that calling Michigan State the “little brothers” would rankle some fans, Robinson was asked about it again. He sang the same tune.

“It’s the truth. When it was first said it was the truth and it holds true.”

For being a little brother, Michigan State has won five of the last six football games between the teams. Not bad for a little brother.

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