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Friday, May 27, 2016

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Sorry Cleveland Browns Apply Franchise Tag to Kicker Phil Dawson

Since returning to Cleveland in 1999 after a three-year absence, the Browns have only enjoyed two winning seasons. As if having two winning seasons and ten losing seasons in 12 years isn’t bad enough, nine of the 10 losing years were double-digit defeat seasons. Simply put, other than a miracle 10-6 year in 2007, the Browns have been pathetic.

Perhaps nothing indicates the hopelessness of the sad franchise than their front office move on Tuesday afternoon: the team announced it was applying its franchise tag to kicker Phil Dawson, as LBS contributor Aaron pointed out.

It’s not that paying a kicker decent money is a bad idea. It’s not that having a really good, consistent kicker is a bad thing either. It’s that using your franchise tag on a kicker means that you don’t have enough talent at the other more valuable positions to warrant protecting them from the free agent market. And that’s a problem.

This reminds me of a fantasy baseball team I took over several years ago. It was a keeper league and the team had just finished last, so there was very little to choose from. I ended up franchising K-Rod even if closers only account for one fantasy category just because the other choices were uninspiring. Having good closers help you win fantasy baseball, but if those are your only keeper options you know you’re in trouble.

Nothing could have the poor state of the Browns more than their decision Tuesday. Good luck Pat Shurmur, you sure have your work cut out for you.

Carl Crawford Says Red Sox Creeped Him Out When Scouting Him

Theo Epstein has openly admitted that the Red Sox monitored Carl Crawford very closely in the months before signing him to a monster contract. Epstein even referred to the process as a private investigation, meaning they not only watched Crawford’s play but also kept an eye on him away from the ballpark. Turns out that was a little strange for the $142 million man.

“I thought it was a little weird,” Crawford told reporters in Fort Myers on Tuesday. “I guess that’s what they have to do when they’re making that type of investment. I can’t remember when [Epstein told me they had been watching me closely], but I was a little freaked out.”

“I definitely look over my shoulder now a lot more than what I did before,” he continued. “Just when he told me that, the idea of him following me everywhere I go, was kind of, I wasn’t comfortable with that at all.”

I can understand if you agree with Crawford, but it obviously wasn’t enough to keep him from signing with Boston.  The bottom line is you don’t take any chances when you’re spending $143 million — period.  The way Crawford acts off the field is just as important as the quality of his play when it comes to making that type of enormous, long-term investment.

For the record, any MLB team that wants to follow me to work, lunch, dinner, home, my friends’ house, the local pub, or watch me take a dump can have my services for under $1 million.  I won’t find anything creepy about it.

Carlos Zambrano on Anger Management Issues ‘I’m Cured’

For a guy who became one of Chicago’s biggest punching bags last season, Carlos Zambrano seems to be pretty relaxed. The pitcher was spotted playing slow pitch softball last week and was described as being a “super friendly guy.” That was a stark contrast to the person baseball fans know as the man who has annual blowups and meltdowns on the field.

Let’s see, Zambrano’s lengthy list of missteps includes:

– Going after Derrek Lee in the dugout
– Bumping an umpire and then beating up a Gatorade machine
– Fighting teammate Michael Barrett in the dugout

Despite all these issues, Zambrano says he considers himself a nice guy off the field. I can buy that — maybe Zambrano only just loses it during competition like many other people. Anyway, Zambrano was ordered to take a leave from the team after his blowup against Derrek Lee last year and he underwent anger management counseling. Asked how those sessions were going, Z said Tuesday via Rotoworld “It’s all done — I’m cured.”

Zambrano was just joking around when he said that, but hopefully he’s a new man. He apparently has dropped weight and is hopefully in better shape. I’m hoping he’ll regain his ace form because he’s too good to be having the problems he has. The Cubs signed him to an extension and are paying him big-time money and he needs to earn it.

Sacked by the LBS Nut Bag: Nai Fotu DUI Arrest, Driving Wrong Way on Highway

Miguel Cabrera led things off for our LBS Nut Bag feature when he was “sacked” for smiling during his mugshot after being arrested for a DUI.  Early Sunday morning, Utah linebacker Nai Fotu joined him.  Fotu was arrested for DUI after police stopped him for driving in the wrong direction on the highway.  It goes without saying that he was completely shattered, but the video and audio taken by the dash cam in the cruiser is priceless.

Deadspin also shared with us that Fotu already had a warrant out for “giving false personal information to police, unlawful possession of alcohol or a controlled substance by a minor and public urination following a March 2009 incident” at the time of his arrest.  Apparently some people just don’t get it.  Check out the arrest video and enjoy some of the brilliant comments made by Fotu as he was undergoing a field sobriety test.

Fotu’s blood alcohol was reportedly three times the legal limit, so I guess we can’t blame him for having no idea what was going on. I thought football players were big enough guys that they would have a high tolerance, but Fotu said he only had one or two beers. I believe him, don’t you?

Hank Steinbrenner Says Building Mansion Comment Was Not Directed at Derek Jeter

Baseball is a better world when Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner is popping off and running his mouth. That’s why it was delightful to hear him say Monday the Yankees were too complacent and that was a reason they didn’t win enough last season. Those comments came only a month after he dropped a four-letter cuss word describing the urgency behind the Yanks needing to win.

Steiny’s exact quote Monday was “Sometimes you celebrate too much, players concentrating on building mansions and not concentrating on winning.” Many people assumed his words were a direct jab at shortstop Derek Jeter who had been building a mansion in St. Petersburg, Florida. On Tuesday, Steinbrenner denied that was the case.

“It was a euphemism, that’s all it was,” Steinbrenner said. “It was a generalization, a euphemism. Bad choice of a euphemism, but it was a euphemism. That’s all it was. He knows that I wasn’t referring to him. You can’t say that about a guy that’s won five rings.”

Wait a sec, so Hanky Panky was backing off his words? You can’t say that about a guy that’s won five rings? Maybe that’s what Hank’s conclusion was after reconsidering his harsh words. The guy has unreal expectations and we all know that — every season is a failure unless the Yankees win the World Series. There’s nothing wrong with that mindset, but there’s only something wrong with Hank backing off his remarks. We all know he was taking a run at the Captain, why slow down now? Maybe the Yanks will win another World Series with Hank breathing down their necks this season. I just hope the backlash didn’t frighten Hank into a shell because a season full of his angry remarks makes everything more fun (unless you’re a Yankee fan).

Tim Tebow Focusing on Practicing, Not Commercials (but Book Promotion is OK)

Tim Tebow’s work ethic and practice habits are quite impressive. Watching his Year of the Quarterback documentary on ESPN, you could see how hard he works to improve his play. The former Heisman Trophy winner worked hard to prepare for the draft, and then he continued his strong practice efforts throughout his rookie season. He ended up starting the final three games for the Broncos, going 1-2.

The second-year quarterback will have a lot to prove next season because John Elway said three weeks ago the team currently would have Kyle Orton starting. Good thing for Tebow that he’s been focusing solely on football instead of lending his name to every product that comes along and becoming an endorsement whore, like Peyton Manning.

During an interview with The Florida Times-Union to promote his autobiography Through My Eyes (pre-order here) which is due out in May, Tebow explained why he doesn’t do too many commercials. “I have my priorities in a certain order,” he said. “I just don’t have the time right now to do a lot of commercials and ads.”

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Nonito Donaire Has Serious Punching Power, Similar to Manny Pacquiao

Nonito Donaire is a force, and the 118-pound bantamweight is making a charge up the pound-for-pound rankings. The 28-year-old Filipino Flash destroyed Fernando Montiel on Saturday with a second-round TKO to win the WBC bantamweight title. The emerging star has now captured crowns in the bantamweight, super flyweight, and flyweight divisions, inspiring comparisons to fellow Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao started off his career 107 and has now fought at a 150-pound weight limit, winning a light middleweight title. Donaire has never fought above 121 pounds, but he may venture into higher weight classes before long.

Where Donaire stands out amongst his competition is punching power. The 5’6″ Filipino-American seems to be somewhat more muscular and physical than his opponents, and his punches certainly sting more than the ones he receives. Of his 26 wins, 18 have come by knockout, including the beautiful knock down of Montiel captured in the photo above.

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With Deron Williams or Chris Paul, Knicks Could Contend with Miami Heat

The trade we’d all been waiting for and held hostage by since the summer — Carmelo Anthony’s departure to New York — finally went through on Monday night. Melo will join fellow All-Star Amare Stoudemire on the Knicks, and he’ll be accompanied by Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter. Even though the Knicks gave up Danilo Gallinari, Ray Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Timofey Mozgov in the deal, they’re getting back a legitimate superstar who had the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals two seasons ago. Though critics will say the Knicks now lack depth, I’ll argue that one star like Carmelo Anthony is worth a dozen moderate players like Gallinari, Felton, and Chandler, so I like obviously like the trade for the Knicks.

The Knicks may not click instantly, and they’re not a championship-ready team. Pairing Melo with Amare — two of the biggest offensive ballhogs in the game (and I don’t say that in a negative way because they’re both fantastic players) — will be tricky. However, I’ve always believed the more good players you put together, the better you’ll be, so I like New York’s chances for the future.

The question is can they be a title contending team?

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Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi go to Justin Bieber’s Movie, See Luis Gonzalez

You read that right — Colorado Rockies players Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi had some free time during Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona and decided to hit the theater. They did exactly what any typical bulky, muscular, All-American tough-guy ballplayers would do … watch Justin Bieber’s movie, Never Say Never.

But that’s not all — The Denver Post says Tulo and Giambino ran into former roider Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez at the theater.

See, Gonzo I could picture heading out to Bieber’s movie. He seems like a sweet, family type of guy who would find a chick flick charming. Tulo we already knew is a Miley Cyrus fan, so hearing he went to see the Biebs’ movie is no surprise. But Giambi? The Rick Vaughn of the Rockies, going to see Bieber?

Not only is it true, but he actually liked it saying “it was really, really good.”

Apparently the once proud prankster is changing, admitting that “The Big G’s getting old,” so maybe his idea of going out is different from what it once was. He sure seems a lot more tame than he used to be, and I for one am horrified.

Jason Kendall Jumps on Reporter During Standard Interview with Mike Moustakas

It’s Spring Training for the Kansas City Royals which is good news because they’re still in contention for the AL Central crown. Apparently veteran catcher Jason Kendall didn’t get that memo, because it’s only been a week and he already has a bug up his butt. Overhearing an interview Kansas City radio host Nick Wright was conducting with hot prospect Mike Moustakas, Kendall jumped in to interject after hearing a question he didn’t like. Royals Review transcribed the interview and we have the audio below:

Wright: (To Moustakas) “There’s a decent chance that no matter how well you do this Spring Training, you might still start the year off in the minors just because of baseball’s rules and wanting to hold on to eligibility, all that stuff. Do you think about that?”

Kendall: (Jumping in) “No, he wants to stay in the minor leagues all f—ing year. Are you s—ing me right now?”

Wright went on to “rephrase” his question by asking the exact same thing again. Kendall clearly was overreacting and trying to look out for a younger player but he had no business being so edgy. If he had heard it, he would have realized it was a perfectly legitimate question. It’s actually good that Kendall was backing up Moustakas because it’s not like he has much else to offer the club.

Here’s the transcribed clip: [audio:http://larrybrownsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/jason-kendall.mp3|titles=jason-kendall]

Full audio via Nick Wright

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