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Sunday, September 23, 2018

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Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury sign contracts to fight Dec. 1

Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder is not getting his desired fight with Anthony Joshua, but he will be taking on a compelling opponent later this year.

A news blast was sent out on Friday to alert media members that Wilder and Tyson Fury had signed their contracts to fight on Dec. 1. The venue and ticket information has not yet been released, though Staples Center in Los Angeles appears to be a leading contender to host, along with Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The fight will be broadcast through Showtime pay-per-view. The fighters will embark on a three-stop media tour, going from London to New York to Los Angeles.

Wilder and Joshua is the fight boxing fans want to see, but talks stalled despite Wilder supposedly offering Joshua $50 million. Joshua is signed to Eddie Hearns’ promotional company, which is focused on fulfilling a new deal with streaming service newcomer DAZN.

Instead, Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) secured a fight with Fury. Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) is known for defeating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. His career was derailed by drug abuse and a PED violation charge, but he returned to the ring in 2018 and is looking to win his third fight of the year.

This will be Wilder’s toughest challenge yet. Though his record is impressive, he has been criticized for the lack of quality opponent he has faced.

The fight might not bring Wilder closer to facing Joshua, but it should tell fans more about how good he really is.

Kyrie Irving has not spoken to Jimmy Butler about teaming up

Kyrie Irving

Uncle Drew and Jimmy Buckets seems like the match made in heaven, but it sounds like the involved parties themselves have yet to progress on that front.

In an interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that ran on Friday, Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving acknowledged that he was aware of rumors linking him with fellow All-Star Jimmy Butler in free agency, most popularly of them playing together on the New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets. Irving added however that he has had no such discussions with Butler about teaming up.

Per MacMullan:

Irving said he’s aware that he’s been linked to Jimmy Butler in persistent free-agent rumors regarding a mutual desire to play together in New York, but he said he’s had no such discussions with Butler. In fact, he said, the last time he talked to Butler at length was when they were both playing with USA Basketball, and the two engaged in a spitballing session along with Durant and Cousins about what the future held for each of them.

“And that,” Irving laughed, “was in 2016.”

Irving, 26, and Butler, 29, can both become unrestricted free agents in 2019. Rumors of a potential team-up have surrounded the two for over a year now.

Of course, Irving can always choose to stay put on the Celtics, a situation that may even have some dynasty potential over the next several years. And while the Knicks and Nets are both on Butler’s list of preferred destinations now that he wants out of Minnesota, we have heard rumblings recently that he could be pairing with another star instead.

USC loses potential touchdown on controversial pass in end zone

USC Michael Pittman replay

USC lost a potential touchdown during their game against Washington State on Friday night after a controversial call by the officials.

Trojans quarterback JT Daniels threw a pass deep in the end zone to Michael Pittman Jr., who caught the ball and tried to get a foot down inbounds. The call on the field from the back judge was incomplete due to Pittman being out of bounds.

The call was reviewed and stood. USC then had a 3rd-and-goal with two seconds left before halftime and decided to kick a field goal. The field goal made it 24-17 Washington State at halftime.

The replay seemed to be inconclusive, so had the call on the field been a touchdown, it probably would have stood.

USC has not gotten too many favorable calls lately, including the safety call that was missed last week against Texas.

Report: NFL did not include Clay Matthews hit on officiating video

Clay Matthews penalty

The NFL did not include the infamous Clay Matthews hit on their post-Week 2 officiating video, contrary to their reported plans, according to a report.

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter Jason Wilde said on Twitter Friday night that he watched the NFL’s video shared with officials this week and the hit was not on it.

Matthews’ hit on Kirk Cousins late in Sunday’s tie between the Vikings and Packers was one of the biggest controversies of the weekend. Matthews was called for roughing the passer for what most felt was a textbook hit on Cousins. The penalty negated an interception that likely would have sealed the Packers’ win.

A day after the call, both ESPN and The Washington Post reported that the NFL agreed with the call and planned to include it in their video to the officials about what constitutes roughing the passer.

Did they change their mind? Have they reversed course on their enforcement of the penalty? Or have they finally realized that Matthews’ hit did not really constitute “stuffing” the quarterback and therefore should not have been called?

The sooner they stop calling these clean hits penalties, the better off the game will be.

Jacob deGrom sets another record amid historic season

Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom has set yet another record on his way to one of the best pitching seasons in recent memory.

The New York Mets ace came into Friday’s game with an absurd 22 consecutive quality starts this season. He added another one to the total by allowing just three hits and one run to the Washington Nationals while recording eight strikeouts over seven innings. Quality starts are defined by outings in which a starter goes at least six innings while allowing no more than three earned runs.

deGrom’s 23rd straight quality start set a Major League record, breaking a tie with Chris Carpenter and Bob Gibson.

With one start remaining this season, deGrom’s ERA now sits at 1.77. The next closest in the National League is Aaron Nola at 2.44. deGrom has also record 259 strikeouts in 209 innings. Unfortunately for deGrom, who is 9-9, Nola and Max Scherzer have also put together seasons worthy of being in the Cy Young discussion. Should Nola or Scherzer take home the award, deGrom’s remarkable season may be forgotten by many, thanks largely to the Mets’ lack of run support for him.

Report: Earl Thomas expected to play in Week 3 despite absence

Earl Thomas

Earl Thomas is expected to play in the Seattle Seahawks’ Week 3 game on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys despite his head coach expressing uncertainty over the matter.

Thomas did not practice on Friday, leading to questions about his status. Some wondered whether a trade was imminent. Others wondered whether the absence had anything to do with Thomas’ contract situation considering he held out during the preseason.

The Athletic’s Calvin Watkins reported on Friday that Thomas is not expected to miss Sunday’s game.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Clarence Hill Jr. also reported the same about Thomas’ status for Sunday, while adding a trade has nothing to do with Thomas’ absence.

Perhaps we can keep in mind what Pete Carroll said — the absence is personal, and could be explained by any number of factors.

Yankees undecided on who will start wild-card game

Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees are nearly a lock to clinch a spot in the AL wild-card game, but they are not sure yet who will start in the game.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman talked with reporters on Friday about who would start the wild-card game on Oct. 3.

The team could line things up for whomever they want to start in the game. The regular season finale is on Sept. 30, and their first playoff game wouldn’t be until three days later.

JA Happ has been pretty dynamite since joining the team (6-0, 2.39 ERA in nine starts). Masahiro Tanaka has lowered his ERA by nearly half a run since Aug. 10. CC Sabathia has the experience and offers a southpaw look. And of course there is Luis Severino, who is 18-8 and the anchor of the staff. He got bombed in last year’s wild-card game against the Twins and was quickly pulled, though he performed better in his next start against Cleveland.

The nice thing for the Yankees is that they have plenty of options. The bad things is they don’t have one clear-cut ace.

Jets reporter Manish Mehta in Twitter fight with Bart Scott

Bart Scott media

A New York Jets reporter is in a Twitter fight with former linebacker-turned-analyst Bart Scott over a difference of opinion.

Scott is now a pre and post-game commentator for Jets games on SNY and analyzed the Jets defense’s play against the Browns on Thursday night. The criticism must have extended to the team’s linebackers, because the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta went after Scott personally in defense of the linebackers.

Mehta said on Twitter that he thought linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Avery Williamson had “solid” games.

Mehta then posted the world “clueless” on Twitter, along with a sign for the No. 57, which is what Scott wore when he played.

To top it all off, Mehta seemed to say Scott was “comically and consistently wrong” with his analysis and commentary.

Scott responded to Mehta on Twitter, saying “No subliminal say my name if u have something to say.” He also challenged Mehta to mention him personally on Twitter rather than talk about him. “Don’t be a b—- all u have to do is at me,” he said (edited for profanity).

Mehta better be careful, because Scott has shown he can get serious with threats sometimes.

Report: Tom Brady irritated with Patriots’ execution

Tom Brady

The New England Patriots’ lackluster start to the 2018 season is not sitting too well with Tom Terrific.

Michael Giardi of NFL Network reported on Friday that multiple Patriots players told him star quarterback Tom Brady was “irritated” this week due to the team’s poor execution in their Week 2 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Pats put up just 302 yards of total offense against the Jags, falling by the final of 31-20. After the game, Brady made some critical remarks to the media about his team’s play.

While wide receiver Julian Edelman, one of Brady’s top targets, is suspended for the first four games of the season, it still hasn’t been the start that the Pats had envisioned. The hope here will be that the defending AFC champions can have a bounceback game on Sunday against the winless Detroit Lions, who are coached by former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

Twins’ Miguel Sano to undergo more testing on leg

Miguel Sano leg

Miguel Sano has been pulled from the Twins’ road trip and returned to Minnesota to undergo further testing on his leg.

Sano had a titanium rod inserted in his leg last year to repair a stress fracture in his shin. He re-injured the leg on a collision with Houston’s Carlos Correa on Sept. 4.

Sano missed two weeks but returned to action on Tuesday, though it did not go well. The Twins third baseman took a golden sombrero — striking out all four times he batted. He did not play on Wednesday, and the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller reported on Friday that Sano went back to Minnesota for more tests.

Sano’s season has been nothing short of a disaster. The 25-year-old batted .264 with an .859 OPS last season, making his first All-Star team. A year later, everything went awry, beginning with an accusation of past improper behavior towards a photographer. He has battled injuries and ineffectiveness and was even demoted.

Sano is batting .199 in 71 games.

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