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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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Bryce Harper on Atlanta Braves fans: ‘I love when they go crazy and boo me’

Bryce Harper NationalsWashington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper is the type of player who lives for drama. He has a temper that has been well-documented and makes it obvious that he can’t stand losing. The 20-year-old outfielder also feeds off the hatred he receives from opposing fans, and he has been fed a lot of it by Atlanta Braves supporters this season.

Harper has been hit by pitches against the Braves three times this season. Earlier this month, he was plunked after admiring his home run and flipping his bat. Then on Friday, Atlanta fans cheered when Harper was hit two more times. He loved every second of it.

“I love these fans. I really do,” Harper said Sunday, per Dan Kolko of MASN Sports. “These people are absolutely unbelievable for their team. If I was playing for a team like this and had a crowd like that, I’d be stoked to play here every night, too. I love playing at Nats Park. We have a great crowd, too. Going to Philly. Going here. Fenway. New York. There are so many great crowds.

“I love when the crowd goes crazy and they boo me. I live for that situation. I think a lot of guys do. Just like the old commercials, ‘We live for this.’ Live for the booing, and (when) they’re going crazy, it makes me a better player.”

Harper could not have loved the Braves taking two out of three from his Nationals, but he heard plenty of boos every time he strolled to the plate. He also had a brief exchange with third base umpire Marvin Hudson when he was called out on a 1-2 check swing to end the game. Harper said he didn’t like the call, but wouldn’t elaborate much further.

“I just told him how good he was and how good he looked,” he joked.

If a rivalry is budding between the Braves and Nationals, there is no better person to play the role of villain than Bryce Harper.

H/T Hardball Talk

Joe Girardi on Ryan Dempster: ‘I wish he had to hit’

Alex Rodriguez Ryan DempsterNew York Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected on Sunday night after he went ballistic when Boston Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster blatantly threw at and hit Alex Rodriguez on purpose. Girardi had every right to be upset, as home plate umpire Brian O’Nara could have easily ejected Dempster for the stunt but chose not to.

“Ryan Dempster has hit six guys in the last 320 innings,” Girardi said, via the NY Daily News. “He threw the first ball behind him; intentional. He threw the next one inside, he didn’t hit him, intentional. At some point Brian O’Nora has got to give him a warning. And he should’ve thrown him out of the game is the bottom line.

After watching his team claw its way to a come-from-behind victory, Girardi did not cool down much. He blasted Dempster for trying to take the law into his own hands following the game.

“Ryan Dempster has been a player rep and has been very involved in the union,” the Yanks manager said. “He knows these guys, this is what they decided to do, so you can’t change it just take your pot shots. And you’d have to have your head in the sand with the comments that came from the other side not to know that something might be up. I thought it was handled very poorly and I was upset about yesterday because calls went against us that changed the complexion of the game. Then you have this. It’s just flat wrong.”

Girardi also implied that Dempster would have been plunked if it was a National League game.

“I wish he had to hit,” Girardi said, according to Newsday’s David Lennon. “That’s what I wish.”

Both benches were warned after Dempster hit A-Rod, which meant CC Sabathia would have been ejected immediately in an important game if he tried to retaliate. Some of Dempster’s teammates and even one AL East rival believe Rodriguez has no business playing during his appeal, but the Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place for a reason. You don’t have to defend A-Rod to defend his right to appeal.

Pam Oliver hit in face by Chandler Harnish throw (Video)

Pam Oliver hit faceStanding on an NFL sideline is always a risky proposition, especially if you are not paying attention. FOX NFL reporter Pam Oliver knows all about that.

Oliver was on the sidelines during pregame warmups for the Indianapolis Colts-New York Giants game on Sunday and was hit in the face by a throw from Colts backup quarterback Chandler Harnish. Harnish, last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, went over to give Oliver a hug to apologize for the throw, which was just out of the reach of his receiver.

Head on a swivel at all times, Pam. Head on a swivel.

Ryan Dempster throws at Alex Rodriguez, hits him

Alex Rodriguez Ryan DempsterRyan Dempster attacked Alex Rodriguez with a purpose on Sunday night.

The Boston Red Sox starter threw at A-Rod three times before hitting him on the elbow and torso with the fourth pitch. He missed behind Rodriguez on the first pitch and inside on the next two before plunking him on the 3-0 pitch. Dempster was clearly throwing at Rodriguez intentionally.

Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora came out and immediately warned both teams, but there was a scrum on the field. New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi flipped out and argued that Dempster should have been ejected for intentionally throwing at Rodriguez. Girardi ended up tossed.

In another GIF, Girardi can be seen yelling at Dempster, “that’s bulls—. F—ing p—y!”

(more…)

Eddie Lacy looking like fantasy stud

Eddie LacyEddie Lacy may have slipped in the NFL Draft because of concerns over an operation to repair his turf toe, but you shouldn’t let the same thing happen in your fantasy draft. Many NFL teams such as the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers (both of whom took backs ahead of Lacy in the second round of the draft) have concerns about Lacy’s long-term prospects, but that hardly matters to us since fantasy football is generally a one year at a time proposition. Whether you’re in a keeper or re-draft league, we highly recommend Lacy as one of your top picks.

Lacy was a star at Alabama. He accounted for 32 touchdowns in three seasons while averaging 6.76 yards per carry. He made Notre Dame look foolish in the National Championship Game in January, rushing for 140 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He is a tough runner, adept at catching passes, and big enough to help in pass protection.

Lacy made his preseason debut for the Green Bay Packers on Saturday against the St. Louis Rams and looked great. He showed no effects of the hamstring problem that kept him out of the team’s first preseason game. If you watch the highlights, you’ll see that he broke tackles, ran through guys, and generally was a load to bring down. He finished with 40 yards on eight carries. Lacy also caught a pass out of the backfield and looked smooth in the open field. He reminded me a lot of Steven Jackson, and I don’t just throw out around comparisons to Pro Bowl running backs for anyone.

We’re not the only ones who think Lacy looks great.

“Give credit to that back,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said after Saturday’s game. “He’s a good back. He’s going to be a good player in this league — and he’s a load.”

Packers running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said during the week that Lacy “stands out” in pass protection, so that means he will likely have a role as a third-down back. DuJuan Harris and Johnathan Franklin will also see carries, but reporters believe Lacy will get most of the action for Green Bay.

If you’re wondering what kind of numbers he’s capable of posting, I’d suggest looking at Ryan Grant’s 2008 and 2009 stats for a baseline comparison. I think over 1,100 combined yards and 10 touchdowns are definitely within reach for Lacy, if not more.

Danica Patrick: Tony Stewart off the meds and back to life

Tony StewartTony Stewart is out at least the next month — and likely longer — as he recovers from a broken leg suffered during a crash at Southern Iowa Speedway on Aug. 5. Though Stewart needs to take extensive care of himself while recovering, Danica Patrick makes it sound like her Stewart-Haas Racing boss/teammate is improving.

“I’ve heard he’s kind of getting back in the game, you know,” Patrick said Friday at Michigan International Speedway, per USA Today Sports. “He wants to know everything that’s going on. He wants to be able to hear what we’re doing. He’s off the meds and back to life again.”

Patrick had been communicating with Stewart via text message while he was in the hospital recovering. Stewart-Haas competition director Greg Zipadelli has also been in contact with Stewart and says Smoke is still in a lot of pain. He also says that the recovery process will be slow.

“We’ve been working under the assumption that he’s out for the next month or so, or longer,” Zipadelli said Friday, via ESPN. “He went to the doctor this week, he had a decent visit — no setbacks. … I saw him on Wednesday night, and we spent some time together. … He’s in great spirits. He’s going through a transition period. The next seven to 14 days will tell a lot about how [the leg] heals, whether things take. We’ll update you guys as we can, but it’s going to be a really slow process.”

Austin Dillon is racing in Stewart’s place on the team for the time being. He finished 14th at the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday and 21st in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. Nobody can come close to replacing Stewart both for his racing ability and personality around the track.

Joe Girardi: Managers could use challenges to take pitcher out of rhythm

Joe GirardiMost baseball fans agree that integrating expanded replay review into the game is a good thing for MLB, but there could be some unintended consequences.

MLB owners will vote in November on extending the plays that can be reviewed with instant replay. The expansion will go into effect pending approval from the owners, players, and umpires.

Managers will get the opportunity to challenge one reviewable play from the first through sixth innings, and they will get two more challenges after that. MLB has not finalized the list of reviewable plays, but they should listen to the comments of Joe Girardi when making their decisions.

The New York Yankees manager had an interview with WFAN’s Joe and Evan on Friday and discussed how managers could use expanded replay challenges to their benefit.

“You might even see [managers use challenges] just to take a pitcher out of his rhythm,” Girardi told the hosts. “There’s a lot of things that could go into that. All of us will do what we think is best for our club in a lot of situations.”

Girardi also stressed the importance of the clubhouse video guys for determining whether managers should use challenges. He said you’ll have to trust what your players tell you and what your video assistants recommend.

“[You have to listen to your players] and I believe your video guys are going to have to be pretty quick. I think your video guys are going to become a lot more important because of that,” Girardi said.

I’m not sure how MLB will be able to manage the situation. In tennis, players sometimes use their challenges to give themselves a rest or to similarly try taking an opponent out of rhythm, as Girardi suggests This may be one of the consequences of adding replay, but I think it’s a minor one in comparison to the benefit of getting more calls right.

Thanks to LBS tipster David

Dale Sveum ejected for arguing umpire Phil Cuzzi’s awful call

Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum was ejected from Sunday’s 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals for arguing a horrible call by homeplate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

Donnie Murphy check swingCuzzi, who is no stranger to awful calls, punched out Donnie Murphy after the third baseman tried holding up on a check swing with an 0-2 count, two on, and nobody out in the bottom of the seventh. Murphy held up on the swing and it wasn’t close, but Cuzzi blew the call and called Murphy out. Sveum was ejected for the fifth time this season after being tossed by Cuzzi.

If a manager were able to challenge that call in the future based on new instant replay rules, I would really hope that Cuzzi would have enough sense to overturn.

Forearm bash to CJ Zero

Arian Foster a risky fantasy pick with back, calf injuries

Arian FosterArian Foster has been one of the best running backs in football the past three seasons and one of the most productive players in fantasy football during that span. For the third year in a row, he enters the season as a somewhat risky fantasy football pick because of injuries. This time I think the concerns are more serious than usual.

Foster is dealing with back and calf injuries and has not practiced during training camp. He continues to miss timetables given by head coach Gary Kubiak, who has consistently expected the running back to practice. Though the calf issue does not appear to be serious, the back problem is a real concern.

Kubiak told reporters during a news conference on Sunday that Foster will not be at practice on Monday because he needs time after getting injections for his back. Kubiak said the pain from the back has migrated down to Foster’s legs, which is a common issue for those who have nerve problems.

Kubiak’s comments led Houston Chronicle Texans writer John McClain to write that he would be worried about Foster’s status for the season opener.

Foster has been one of the most overworked backs in football the past three years. He had 393 touches in 2010 (327 rushes, 66 receptions); 390 touches in 2011 including playoffs (329 rushes, 61 receptions); and he had an absurd 460 touches in 2012 including playoffs (405 rushes, 55 receptions). There aren’t many players who touched the ball as often as he has the past three years and not experienced a setback. I love his talent, but I have serious concerns about his workload taking its toll.

H/T Rotoworld

Champ Bailey has foot sprain, Wes Welker ankle sprain

Champ BaileyTwo key Denver Broncos players sustained injuries in Saturday’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, though one is more serious than the other.

Wes Welker sprained his right ankle in the contest and is likely out the rest of the preseason, but he is expected back by the opener.

Champ Bailey left the game with a left foot injury suffered while covering Golden Tate before halftime. He was in a boot and on crutches leaving the stadium on Saturday. X-rays on his foot were negative, and an MRI revealed no torn ligaments, per USA Today’s Lindsay Jones. Champ’s condition is the one to watch.

There is no timetable for Bailey’s recovery, but don’t be surprised if he misses a few games to begin the season. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport described Bailey’s sprain as “serious” and a condition that could take weeks to heal. The good news is that Denver has some good cornerback depth and should be able to withstand the loss of Bailey if he misses a few games. They have Chris Harris, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Tony Carter. DRC is expected to play in the team’s third preseason game after missing the first two with a high ankle sprain.

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