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Monday, May 21, 2018

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Nats calling up top prospect Juan Soto

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals are losing some ground in the NL East, and now they are turning to some fresh blood in the hopes of stopping their skid.

Byron Kerr of MASN Sports reported on Saturday that the Nats are calling up top outfield prospect Juan Soto, who is expected to join them for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Soto, 19, has looked like one of the best players in the minor leagues for awhile now, hitting .361/.433/.608 with 22 home runs and 100 RBIs in 121 games over the last three seasons. As for the Nationals, they are currently third in their division at 24-20 and were just swept by the Dodgers in a doubleheader on Saturday. They also recently made history for an unfortunate reason, so the hope here will be that Soto can give them a jolt.

Brad Stevens not making an issue of Celtics’ road struggles in playoffs

Brad Stevens

If there’s anything we’ve learned about Brad Stevens, it’s that the Boston Celtics head coach is not going to overreact to anything. So it’s no surprise that he’s not thinking too hard about Boston’s 1-5 record on the road in the postseason.

The Celtics got smashed by the Cavaliers 116-86 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Cleveland on Saturday. Stevens was asked after the game about his team now slipping to 1-5 away from home in the playoffs. Stevens said that’s not something they’re thinking about.

“In my 11 years as a head coach, I probably haven’t talked about road and home five times with our team. It’s about how you play between the lines. If you start talking about that, then you find excuses in both places,” Stevens said.

Stevens also pointed out that Boston went 28-13 on the road in the regular season, which signifies that they’re not incapable of winning on the road. Perhaps the explanation here is that you face much better teams in the playoffs, and it’s tougher to win on the road, so this really shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

Watch: Did LeBron James toy with Donald Trump supporter on purpose?

LeBron James Trump fan

Did LeBron James toy with a Donald Trump supporter on purpose Saturday?

LeBron was seen tossing a towel into the stands during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. A fan sitting with some excellent seats put his hands up as if James was going to throw a towel to him. Instead, James threw it clearly past the fan.

The fan was wearing an mistakable red “Make America Great Again” hat, which indicates support for President Trump. Before the last presidential election, James made clear his support for Hillary Clinton. He has also expressed his disdain for Trump on multiple occasions since. It wouldn’t be surprising if he did that on purpose.

Marcus Morris called for three fouls and a tech in 32 seconds

Marcus Morris

Marcus Morris was called for a technical foul after complaining to the officials about a foul called on him during the third quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, the culmination of a horrendous series of events for him.

Morris was guarding LeBron James, who hit the floor after losing his footing. A foul was called on Morris, putting James at the line for two free throws, which he made. The foul seemed to be a bogus one, and well worth the complaints from Morris. But the officials didn’t appreciate the complaints and called him for a tech.

Kevin Love stepped in and made the technical free throw to put the Cleveland Cavaliers up 79-55.

Morris’ frustration was understandable for a few reasons. Not only was the foul questionable, but that was the third one he had been called for in 32 seconds. Between that and the game’s score, it’s no wonder he was upset while his Boston Celtics struggled.

Cowboys WR Terrance Williams defends himself in statement

Terrance Williams Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams is defending himself against allegations of public intoxication and leaving the scene of an accident.

Williams was arrested early Saturday after police found his abandoned Lamborghini, which they said was nearby a light pole. They traced the car’s registration to Williams and found him riding an electric bicycle nearby his home in Frisco, Texas. He was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and leaving the scene, which are both misdemeanors.

Williams’ attorney released a statement on Saturday evening defending his client that he believes will vindicate his client.

The attorney says Williams did not hit a light pole and did not leave his car nearby a light pole. He says Williams turned to avoid hitting a car in front of him, which had slammed the brakes, and ended up hopping a curb. Williams then allegedly got the insurance information from the other person and called his neighbor for a ride home because his car would not drive. He says he was on the bike to meet a tow truck. Williams also says that he was not asked by the officer to perform a sobriety test.

The receiver, who caught 53 passes last season for 568 yards, says he will fight the allegations in court.

Brad Stevens: Marcus Smart almost too intense for scrimmages

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart is lauded for his intensity and toughness on the court, which are great assets. But if there is one downside to that, it’s that Smart may be a little intense for practices.

Brad Stevens said before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday that Smart’s intensity is one of the reasons the Boston Celtics don’t do a lot of scrimmages late in the year.

“That’s one of the reasons why we don’t do a lot of scrimmaging late in the year. Marcus plays like that no matter what,” Stevens said, via ESPN’s Chris Forsberg.

You can understand the reasoning; you don’t want any of your players getting injured in practice, especially the closer you get to the playoffs. Maybe all the intensity from Smart will pay off before long and result in some recognition he’s craving.

Watch: Shohei Ohtani hits reported 525-foot HR in batting practice

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani continues to outdo himself.

During his batting practice session before Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Los Angeles Angels rookie sensation hit a home run off the right field video board at Angel Stadium that was estimated at a whopping 525 feet. Check out the footage, which was captured by Japanese outlet NHK News 7:

Though it was batting practice to be fair, nobody in the league has hit a ball 500 feet in a game since Giancarlo Stanton smoked a 504-foot home run in August 2016. As for Ohtani, who is up to .321 on the season with six homers and 17 RBIs to go along with his pitching exploits, the scary part is that this might not even be his most vulgar display of power in batting practice yet.

Jockey Mike Smith: Justify won Preakness despite being tired

Mike Smith jockey

Justify won the Preakness on Saturday to capture the second leg of the triple crown, and jockey Mike Smith says he did so despite being tired.

Smith was interviewed by NBC after the race and was asked whether Justify was tired or waiting on competition.

“A little of both,” Smith said. “He got a little tired. This is the hardest race that he’s had. But he was also waiting on the competition — the track was kind of narrow. But it was a good kind of tired. It’s the kind of tired that I’m hoping will help moving forward.”

If Justify was able to win the Preakness while tired and battling adversity, that speaks to the horse’s toughness. However, it might be a bad omen for the Belmont Stakes, which is a longer race.

Each NFL team’s potential breakout player

Patrick Mahomes

Every year, we see NFL players across the league come into their own despite not having much of a track record. They can be all types; many are second- or third-year players who have matured and overcome injury or adapted to the NFL. There are others who were never highly-touted but find themselves in the right situation.

Each NFL team has breakout candidates. Here is a leading candidate from all of them.

Arizona Cardinals — Haason Reddick, LB

The 13th overall pick in last year’s draft flashed potential and appeared in all 16 games, but only started three of them. He still made an impact, with 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on the season. The Cardinals plan to move him to inside linebacker, where he’s been studying tape of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. That bodes well for a big year two breakout.

Atlanta Falcons — Austin Hooper, TE

Year three could be the one that sees Hooper mature into a big target at tight end. His numbers improved last season, as he caught 49 passes and scored three touchdowns. A more prominent role and regular playing time could await him in 2018 and make him a Matt Ryan favorite. He’ll just have to compete with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Atlanta’s talented running backs for touches.

(more…)

Bob Baffert jokes Justify’s Preakness win ‘took more out of me’

Justify

Justify remains on course for a Triple Crown after edging out a win in the Preakness, but the stress levels may have been higher for those not involved.

On a rainy, muddy, foggy track, Justify eked out a win, but the horse’s trainer, Bob Baffert, had the perfect response when asked if he thought the race would take a lot out of the horse.

You can understand why. Justify was neck-and-neck with rivals virtually the entire way, and the race was in doubt right up until the end. That said, Baffert has the LeBron of horses running for him. While it wasn’t the most convincing performance, he certainly came through.

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