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Saturday, August 1, 2015

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Jonathan Papelbon asked Drew Storen for pitching tips in shower

Jonathan Papelbon

For Jonathan Papelbon, no place is off limits when it comes to seeking pitching advice. Not even the shower.

Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Thursday to pick up his first save with the Nationals since being traded to Washington from Philadelphia. He apparently liked what he saw from Drew Storen, the Nationals’ previous closer, who pitched a scoreless eighth for the hold.

According to MASN’s Chris Johnson, Papelbon said after the game that he asked Storen in the shower to teach him his slider grip.

I’d hate to tell Papelbon what I do in the shower, but I can assure you, it’s not asking for pitching tips. Then again, we’ve seen Papelbon get quite intimate with teammates before, so this might not come as a big surprise.

As for the slider, it’s one of Storen’s money pitches. His average fastball velocity has dropped the past two seasons, so he’s increased the amount he throws his changeup and slider. He now throws his slider 35 percent of the time according to Fangraphs.

Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers players: Who is Jimmy Garappolo?

Jimmy Garoppolo

Unless the NFL Players Association is successful enough in federal court to have Tom Brady’s four-game suspension overturned completely, the Pittsburgh Steelers will need to prepare for a different New England Patriots quarterback before Week 1.

They just don’t necessarily know who he is yet.

If Brady’s suspension is reduced or upheld, we’re going to learn a lot more about former Eastern Illinois star Jimmy Garoppolo. A handful of Steelers players will have some serious studying to do, too, as linebacker Jarvis Jones told Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday that he has “no idea” who Garoppolo is.

Rookie first-round draft pick Bud Dupree was equally perplexed, but he got on the right track with a little help from Starkey.

“I’m not really familiar with Jimmy Garoppolo…” Dupree said. “Oh, OK, the quarterback. So we just have to prepare for a different kind of person and watch the little bit of film we do have on him.”

Brady has made a career of carving up the Steelers, so they are undoubtedly hoping to catch a break by having No. 12 sidelined for at least the first week of the season. But if they take Garoppolo lightly, they might find out the hard way why the Patriots used a second-round draft pick on the 23-year-old.

Fortunately for Pittsburgh’s defense, it is only July. They still have more than a month to prepare for Brady, Garoppolo or whoever else might be under center. We saw some impressive flashes from Garoppolo last season when he may or may not have been ignored by Brady after replacing him in a blowout. Expect him to be ready if his number is called.

H/T Around the NFL

Mets reportedly backed out of Carlos Gomez trade over money

Mets suck

We may never know what exactly caused the Carlos Gomez trade to fall apart Wednesday night, but we can at least throw another theory out there. Some reports are saying that the Mets backed out because of money.

To recap the situation, reporters said Wednesday that the Mets had acquired Gomez from the Brewers for Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. The trade later fell through, and Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the team would not be acquiring Gomez. Some reports said the Mets had concern over Gomez’s hip and backed out because of medicals. Other reports say the Mets wanted the Brewers to pay part of Gomez’s salary and backed out when Milwaukee said no.

From Ken Rosenthal:

Both Rosenthal and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman say the Mets wanted the Brewers to take Juan Lagares off their hands rather than Flores because Lagares is owed a lot of money in the future.

Though the two sides ultimately agreed to a deal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt says the Mets called off the deal. Haudricourt intimates that the Mets used the medicals as an escape because they had financial concerns over the trade.

The source said the Brewers then were asked to put some money in the trade to cover part of what’s remaining on Gomez’s contract, including a $9 million salary next year. Considering the talent level of Gomez and his reasonable contract, the Brewers understandably declined to put any cash into the deal.

It was only then, according to the source, that the Mets came back and said they were calling off the deal because of concerns over Gomez’s medical records, which was their right all along. Any team can call off a deal over medical concerns before it becomes official.

Keep in mind that all sides have their reasons for trying to blame others for the failure of the trade. The Brewers want Gomez to appear healthy so that they can trade him for a return; Gomez’s agent Scott Boras doesn’t want anyone thinking his client is damaged goods for when free agency comes around after next season; and the Mets don’t want anyone thinking they are cheap.

Paul Tagliabue in 2012: No player has been suspended for obstructing investigation

Tom Brady

Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association received unfortunate news on Thursday when a Minnesota judge rejected their case and sent it to New York, but that does not mean the war is lost for the New England Patriots quarterback.

As the details of the NFLPA’s lawsuit against the league filter out, it has become clear that Brady’s representatives will spend less time trying to prove his innocence and more time obliterating the process. One major sticking point will be the lack of precedent, as no player has ever been punished this severely for violating a game rule or failing to fully cooperate with an investigation.

In 2012, Roger Goodell appointed former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue as an independent arbiter when several New Orleans Saints players appealed their Bountygate suspensions. Tagliabue ended up exonerating all of the players, and one of the things he noted was that no player has ever been suspended for failing to cooperate with an investigation.

“In my forty years of association with the NFL, I am aware of many instances of denials in disciplinary proceedings that proved to be false, but I cannot recall any suspension for such fabrication,” Tagliabue wrote in his ruling, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “This is no evidence of a record of past suspensions based purely on obstructing a League investigation.”

That should obviously bode well for Brady in court.

Florio also notes that the NFLPA is arguing that Ted Wells never informed Brady that he could be suspended if he did not produce his cell phone or electronic communications. Brady testified during his appeal hearing that he would have made his private text messages and emails available had he known the potential consequences, which may be why he offered up records of 10,000 text messages after the fact and encouraged NFL investigators to look into them.

While some of the things Brady has said about destroying or breaking his cell phone sound shady, he should stand a better chance in front of a neutral judge than he did in front of Goodell.

Joey Bosa, three others suspended one game by Ohio State

Joey Bosa sack shrug emoji

The Ohio State football team will open the 2015 season without its best defensive player and three others.

On Thursday, the Buckeyes announced that All-American defensive end Joey Bosa, H-backs Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson, and wide receiver Corey Smith have been suspended for the team’s Sept. 7 game at Virginia Tech due to unspecified violations of team rules. ESPN’s Joe Schad reports that the suspensions were the result of marijuana use and academic issues.

As Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch notes, most one-game suspensions stem from a second failed drug test for recreational drugs and/or not keeping up with school work. Any sanctions from performance-enhancing drug use are typically more severe.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he has known about the violations for a while.

“I kind of knew about this for a little bit,” Meyer said. “The university and the athletic department has policies that I fully support. Whether it’s a sprained ankle or stuff [like a suspension], you try to create a culture and move forward. We lost Braxton Miller [last season] 10 days before our first game, we lost J.T. Barrett a week before the Big Ten championship game, and you just push forward. Get going, move forward.”

The biggest name among the list of suspensions is Bosa, who is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He was considered a sure-fire top-five NFL draft pick if he decided to declare for the draft after this season, and it’s unclear if this will have any effect on his stock.

Spurs Jesus catches burglar, holds him down until police arrive

Spurs-Jesus

Arguably the most unique San Antonio Spurs fan on the planet is responsible for getting a burglar off the streets following an incident at his home earlier this week.

A Southtown man who goes only by “Spurs Jesus” says he chased down a man who tried to burglarize his home on Monday night and held him down until police arrived. The suspect, Jose Roberto Medina, was allegedly trying to break into a second-story window while Spurs Jesus was home.

“I hear a noise behind my back and I turn around and my upstairs window there’s somebody there with his hands under the window trying to shimmy up the window,” Spurs Jesus told Bill Barajas of KSAT 12 in San Antonio.

Medina took off running, but Spurs Jesus caught up to him. When Medina managed to get away by jumping into a river, Spurs Jesus was able to catch him once again in a small open field and restrain him until police got there. Oddly enough, it was the second encounter he had with Medina.

“The same guy had been in our house the previous Thursday and walked in our bedroom on my girlfriend who was lying in bed,” Spurs Jesus said.

The superfan, who is known for sitting courtside at Spurs games in his Jesus-themed attire, said he wishes he was dressed in character when he caught the alleged criminal.

“I would say, that would (have) gone down as some pretty serious Spurs Jesus San Antonio history myth and lore and legend, if I had actually been dressed like that,” he explained.

No one is more passionate about the Spurs than Spurs Jesus — not even that screaming lady from a couple years back. Apparently Spurs Jesus is just as passionate about protecting his home as he is about rooting for his team.

Tom Brady makes one-handed touchdown catch in practice (Video)

Tom-Brady-one-handed-catch

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Thursday did not look like a man who is worried about potentially missing the first four games of the NFL season. He proved that by hauling in a one-handed touchdown catch from Julian Edelman.

Granted, Brady was wearing a red jersey and none of his teammates could hit him, but for a guy who will turn 38 in a few days and throws passes for a living it was pretty damn impressive.

Despite the terrible news from earlier this week and an impending lawsuit that will be heard in New York, it appeared to be business as usual for the Patriots on Thursday. Well, aside from Robert Kraft signing this fan’s poster. That was somewhat of a surprise.

H/T Shutdown Corner

Robert Kraft signs fan’s ‘Free Brady’ poster

Robert Kraft

New England Patriots fans gave Tom Brady a hero’s welcome when he took the field at training camp on Thursday. You probably expected that, but did you expect to see team owner Robert Kraft autographing a poster calling for his quarterback to be set free?

Kraft, who received a loud ovation of his own, was photographed at one point signing a poster that read “FREE BRADY.”

Kraft apologized to Patriots fans several times during a short press conference on Wednesday, admitting that he thought accepting the team’s Deflategate penalties in May would lead to Brady’s suspension being overturned or reduced. He also accused the NFL of planting false information and never bothering to correct it.

The Patriots have grown used to the “us against the world” mentality over the years. They’ll become even more accustomed to it in the coming weeks and months.

Mike Leach has some great thoughts on Deflategate

Mike-Leach

Washington State football coach Mike Leach doesn’t see what all the fuss is about surrounding Deflategate.

During an appearance on ESPN Wednesday, Leach was asked about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games of the 2015 NFL season. In short, Leach said we should be concerned about the society we’re living in if air pressure in a football is something we care this much about.

“It’s kind of disturbing if you think about it,” Leach said, per Mike Schlabach of ESPN.com. “With everything that’s going on, we’re worried about how much air goes into a ball when everybody uses their own ball. It’s not like it’s a forged football.

“We waste a lot of time with that, and then we worry about the Kardashians. How can it be that we laugh about England’s obsession with the royal family? At least the royal family has college degrees and military service.”

Well said, Mike.

As for Brady playing with a ball that was slightly underinflated, Leach said he believes quarterbacks should be able to use a ball that has as much air pressure in it as they want.

“Give them an empty football and let them fill it however they want to,” he said. “If your quarterback wants a deflated football, your soccer-style kicker is going to want it kind of full. If your quarterback wants it really full, your straight-on kicker is going to want less air in it. It’s a regulation football; let them use it however they want to. You use your own ball.”

That’s something I have said from the start and still don’t understand. The NFL — with its pass interference and illegal contact rules — has made an effort to make it easier for teams to score more points. If quarterbacks have a preference for a certain PSI and they feel it helps their performance, why not let them inflate game balls as much or as little as they want?

Leach usually isn’t quite as eloquent when trying to make a point, as this opposing coach could tell you. It’s hard to argue against his take on Deflategate.

David Price traded to Blue Jays

David Price

The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly traded for Detroit Tigers pitcher David Price.

Shortly after reports surfaced indicating that the Los Angeles Dodgers were considered the favorites for Price, the Blue Jays are said to have ramped up their pursuit of the 29-year-old.

As we learn every year, things can change quickly at the MLB trade deadline.

Price is 9-4 this season with a 2.53 ERA. The Blue Jays are currently seven games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East, but they obviously feel they can make a serious playoff push. They already acquired an All-Star infielder earlier this week, and Price would give them a true ace down the stretch.

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