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Monday, April 27, 2015

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Albert Pujols called Royals to deny ‘bush league’ allegation

Albert Pujols arrowAlbert Pujols called Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost to clarify that he did not call the team “bush league.”

The Royals had a tumultuous series with the Oakland A’s over the weekend that started with a takeout slide by Brett Lawrie on Friday night that injured Alcides Escobar. The Royals responded by having pitchers Kelvin Herrera and Yordano Ventura throw at him the next two days, leading to suspensions for the pitchers.

After the pitchers were suspended Tuesday, Lawrie commented on the Royals, called out the team’s fans, and labeled the players bush league. Two media outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle interpreted Lawrie’s comments to mean that Albert Pujols said he thought the Royals were playing bush league, when that was not what the Angels first baseman said.

Via the Chronicle:

Two media outlets, including The Chronicle, thought Lawrie said that Pujols had told him the Royals do “bush-league stuff,” when in fact by that point, Lawrie was discussing himself – he was saying that’s how the Royals behave, rather than Pujols, two distinct sentences rather than one.

Here is what Lawrie said: “I talked to Albert Pujols at first base. This guy has been in the game forever, he’s one of the best players in the game. And for him to say that, ‘Hey man, you’re playing the game hard.’ And for them (the Royals) to do that, it’s bush league stuff.”

Pujols has lived in Kansas City and didn’t like having his name thrown into the controversy, so he personally reached out to the Royals to smooth things over. Pujols spoke with Yost over the phone.

“He was concerned,” Yost said Thursday via the Kansas City Star. “He lived in Kansas City. And he’s got a lot of friends in Kansas City. He said he’s got far too much respect for our team and our players to say anything like that. He said he just wanted us to know that that didn’t come from him.”

Got all that? So Lawrie still thinks the Royals are bush league, but Pujols never said it. Still, if Pujols does think it, he would have a lot of reason based on this.

A.J. Francis applies to be Uber driver

aj-francis-dolphinsTransportion network Uber has seen its popularity steadily on the rise, becoming an alternative to traditional taxi cab services thanks to an easy to use app to request a driver. Soon, its fleet could contain Dolphins defensive tackle A.J. Francis.

Francis, who was undrafted out of the University of Maryland, sees driving people around for Uber as a great source of additional income, as do the many others.

Francis isn’t the only athlete to take up driving for Uber. Matt Stainbrook, leading scorer for Xavier’s basketball team this season, also chauffeurs during his spare time to help pay expenses like rent and utilities.

After missing last season due to a knee injury, Francis heads into organized team activities looking to secure a place in a Dolphins defensive line that should be among the best in the NFL with Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, and Ndamukong Suh.

Draymond Green offers hilarious quote about not winning Defensive Player of the Year

Draymond Green

Draymond Green did not win the award for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but he did win over fans with a hilarious quote he offered about the matter.

Green finished second in voting to San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who received 333 total points compared to Green’s 317. Green actually had 45 1st-place votes — more than any other player — but Leonard was second and third on more ballots, giving him more overall points (see the full results here). Green was hurt by several voters leaving him off their ballot entirely, which doesn’t make much sense.

Still, Green wasn’t about to let the results get him down.

“That’s not the end of the world,” Green said at Warriors shootaround Thursday. “Al Gore won the popular vote and didn’t get elected president, so I’m not gonna sit here and kill myself over not winning Defensive Player of the Year. We’ve got a bigger goal. That’s to win a championship.”

Not only did Green keep the bigger picture in mind, but he also was praiseworthy of Leonard for winning.

“Disappointed? Yeah … but to be angry? That man’s a champion and we all strive to be that. You can’t knock that. He’s done that at the highest level. He’s helped carry his team to a championship on the defensive end.”

How can you not support Green after reading his quotes and seeing his attitude? Either player was a fine choice, but Green would have made sense as the winner considering Golden State has the top defense in the league (Andrew Bogut also has a big role in that). Maybe Green will achieve the bigger goal — winning a championship — which would be even more important than receiving the individual award. And he might have a chance to beat Leonard’s Spurs on the way there.

Oh, and as far as athletes making politics references go, there are only a few we would expect that from: Vitali Klitschko, Pau Gasol, Chris Kluwe, and like RG3. Maybe we can now add Green to that exclusive list. Between this and what he said about Tim Duncan, it’s clear that Draymond is one of the more quotable players in the league.

Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao tickets sell out in less than a minute

Mayweather tickets

Tickets to the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight are a hot item, mostly because everyone desires the coolness associated with being able to say, “I was there.” So it’s no surprise that the tickets for the fight sold out in less than 60 seconds Thursday.

The two sides finally resolved their long-standing ticket issue Wednesday, thanks to the help from a Nevada senator who stepped in and interceded. That allowed the tickets to finally go on sale to the public, less than two weeks before the May 2 fight.

Only 500 tickets were made available to the public — 100 each at five different price levels ($1,500, $2,500, $3,500, $5,000 and $7,500). If you tried to snag tickets, well, good luck to you and let’s hope you had an uber-fast internet connection.

Given the demand for the fight and lack of supply of tickets, it’s no surprise that all the tickets were gone in less than a minute once they were released through TicketMaster’s website. Your best chance of getting a ticket may be through the secondary market, or if you happen to have some sort of hookup within either fighter’s camp. Even if you get tickets through the secondary market, there is no guarantee that delivers after the mess we saw at the Super Bowl.

If you couldn’t get tickets for the fight, we suggest huddling up with a group of friends and splitting the $100 pay-per-view cost. That’s how most will be watching.

Rob Manfred: Pete Rose will be part of All-Star Game

Pete Rose TimeCould Major League Baseball be in the early stages of lifting the lifetime ban from baseball that was imposed against Pete Rose more than 25 years ago? The All-Star Game this summer could be a start.

On Thursday, new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that Rose will be allowed to take part in some of the activities surrounding the Midsummer Classic, which is being held in his hometown of Cincinnati this season.

“I’ve agreed with Mr. Castellini that we’re going to have a conversation about what specific kind of participation the Reds are interested in, and we have not had that conversation yet,” Manfred told the Associated Press. “You can rest assured that he will about allowed to participate in some of the activities.”

Rose was officially banned from baseball on Aug. 24, 1989, amid allegations that he gambled on baseball while he was playing for and managing the Reds. He was been ruled “permanently ineligible” for the Hall of Fame. Rose applied for reinstatement in September 1997 and met with former MLB commissioner Bud Selig in November 2002. Selig has opted to pass the buck to Manfred.

Rose, who turned 74 earlier this month, once again applied for reinstatement in January. Manfred said the league is in the process of reviewing his request.

“We have gathered volumes, I mean literally volumes of documents, related to the original investigation,” he said. “They’re in the process of organizing those, preparing summaries so that I can review those documents.”

Rose is baseball’s all-time hits leader with 4,256 hits in 24 major league seasons. He recently expressed confidence that he will one day be elected to the Hall of Fame, though he doesn’t know if he will be alive to see that day. Maybe he’s working his way back, albeit very slowly.

John Elway not happy about Demaryius Thomas missing workouts

John Elway leather jacket

John Elway is not happy about wide receiver Demaryius Thomas not showing up to the Denver Broncos’ team workouts this week.

The Broncos GM spoke with the media Thursday and had some strong words for his franchise wide receiver.

“To be dead honest with you, I see absolutely zero value with him being away from here,” Elway said via The Denver Post. “Him being away from here, there is zero value not only to us, but to him. To me it makes no sense.”

Thomas was designated with a franchise tag by the Broncos after he and the team were unable to reach agreement on a long-term deal. He has not reported to the team’s workouts nor has he signed his franchise tag tender yet, which would pay him $12.82 million.

The two sides have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal, but there is a feeling that Thomas’ negotiation is tied to Dez Bryant’s. Bryant would ostensibly receive a larger deal from the Dallas Cowboys if/when he signs, which would help set the market for Thomas. He might be waiting for Dez to sign before he signs. But the problem is some fighting among Bryant’s agents could be holding up his deal, which may be delaying things for Thomas.

Regardless, Elway is clearly unhappy about one of his top players not reporting to the team. The only positive for him is that Thomas has indicated he will report to training camp.

Chris Birdman Andersen got a crazy head tattoo

Chris Andersen skull tattoo

Just the other day I was thinking to myself that we hadn’t really done many tattoo-related posts on LBS recently. I started to wonder whether that was due to tats becoming so mainstream and commonplace that they really just aren’t a big deal anymore.

Just when I started thinking that, Chris “Birdman” Andersen comes along and gets a skull tattoo that calls for some coverage.

Birdman posted the above photo to his Instagram account last weekend and it shows off the new head tattoo he got. It looks like a couple of skulls on the back of his skull, along with the words, “Give Me War.”

Personally, I’m a fan. And when I find a few free minutes to peel myself away from the blog to get a session with my artist, I may ask for the same design.

H/T Eye on Basketball

Report: Kevin Ollie removes name from consideration for Thunder job

Kevin Ollie

Kevin Ollie released a statement on Wednesday saying he has no intention of leaving UConn, and he was apparently telling the truth.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reports that Ollie has removed his name from consideration for the Oklahoma City Thunder job.

There was — and still could be — some speculation that Ollie’s statement on Wednesday was merely a smokescreen, as Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski later reported that Ollie still has “significant interest” in the job. With the Thunder having officially fired Scott Brooks after Ollie released his statement, the door may have been left open.

Unless something changes, this will slam it shut. The Thunder have also reportedly considered prying Billy Donovan away from Florida, and he could become the team’s top choice with Ollie no longer an option.

Barack Obama makes Deflategate joke during Patriots’ White House visit

Barack-Obama

The New England Patriots visited the White House on Thursday to be recognized for winning the Super Bowl XLIX, and Barack Obama managed to zing the world champions with a well-timed Deflategate joke.

Ragging on a team like the New York Jets probably would have been more appropriate in this situation, but Obama — or one of his publicists — actually came up with a great one-liner.

“I usually tell a bunch of jokes at these events, but with the Patriots in town I was worried that 11 out of 12 of them would fall flat,” Obama said.

Robert Kraft’s reaction said it all.

Robert-Kraft

Belichick wasn’t having any of it.

Obama was just full of jokes during the visit. He zinged Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick.

Obama later added that the whole Deflategate controversy was “blown out of proportion,” which is bold considering Ted Wells has yet to release his report on the matter.

We haven’t heard much about Deflategate over the past few weeks. In fact, the most recent reports had more to do with a rogue NFL employee than they did with the Patriots allegedly cheating. Either the NFL has found something important, or they’re waiting for the perfect moment to bury the findings and move on.

Nick Faldo was rooting hard against Jordan Spieth at the Masters

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth took the golf world by storm with his dominant victory in the Masters earlier this month, and the performance could have been even more memorable if he executed a few more shots. Sir Nick Faldo is thrilled that he didn’t.

The record for the lowest single-round score in any major tournament is currently held by Faldo and a handful of others. Spieth’s first-round 64 was just one stroke away from tying the 63’s that were put together by Faldo, who would not have been a graceful loser if his mark fell, and several others.

“I was sitting up there dodging bullets from this young man,” Faldo said Wednesday, per Rob Oller of The Columbus Dispatch. “Day one, he’s in the middle of the 15th fairway at 8 under par, and my fellow announcers were all, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if he shoots a 62?’ And I’m thinking, Jack and I are both in the 63 club; that’s the best round in any major.

“So I’m sitting in my (tower) at 18, saying, ‘No, it wouldn’t be nice.’ He takes that 4-wood out, and I know it’s the wrong club and I’m going, ‘Hit it! Hit it! Hit it!’ And he did, and he hits it over the green and three putts (for bogey), so that was that.”

Rooting against a 21-year-old kid in the middle of a round? That’s cold, Nick. Faldo also admitted to yelling “Yes!” the following day when Spieth missed a short putt on the 18th hole that would have broken another one of Faldo’s records — lowest 36-hole score (130) — that Spieth and Faldo now share with two other golfers.

Nicklaus was a bit more gracious.

“That wouldn’t be my attitude, but that’s OK,” he said. “Nobody likes to see their record broken, but if someone breaks it, well done.”

Faldo later conceded that he would “eventually” congratulate Spieth.

Faldo rubbed a lot of people the wrong way during his playing days, and he is not afraid to criticize the game’s most popular players now that he is an analyst. I bet he’d get along great with Mercury Morris.

H/T Golf Channel

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