Skip to main content
Larry Brown Sports Tagline. Brown Bag it, Baby.
#pounditWednesday, December 1, 2021

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Did Marlins screw up Starling Marte’s free agency?

Starling Marte smiles

The Miami Marlins may have really fumbled the bag with Starling Marte.

Marlins writer Craig Mish of MLB Network reported on Saturday that Marte gave the Marlins multiple chances to sign him. Mish notes that Marte did so during the season, after the season, and even as recently as Friday. Mish also adds that Miami’s most recent offer to Marte would have been enough to get a deal done had they offered it to him before they traded him.

For clarification, the former All-Star Marte was with the Marlins during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. But they traded him to the Oakland Athletics in the middle of 2021. Marte became a free agent after the season, and the Marlins were in the hunt to bring him back, but it never materialized. Marte signed a four-year, $78 million contract with the New York Mets this week instead.

Marte hits for power, hits for average, steals bases (swiping a league-leading 47 of them last season), and can play solid defense as a two-time Gold Glove winner. That is the type of player that the Marlins, who went 67-95 in 2021, really would have benefited from bringing back. But (other than an outlier playoff run during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign), this is exactly the kind of ineptiude we have come to expect from the Marlins.

Photo: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo Ball has surprising admission about his time with Lakers

Lonzo Ball warming up

The Los Angeles Lakers picking UCLA product and L.A. native Lonzo Ball in 2017 seemed almost too good of a story to be true, and it turns out that it was. Now Ball is offering some interesting reflections on his time with them.

The Chicago Bulls guard spoke this week to Dime Magazine and made an admission about his Lakers career — that he failed to meet expectations.

“This is my third team in five years and every team’s been a different experience for myself,” said Ball. “Obviously, coming to L.A., I was a young kid with a lot of expectations put on me that I didn’t really live up to.

“Then [I] got shipped off to New Orleans, where I worked on my game and improved the areas that needed the most help in,” Ball went on. “Now I’m the player I am in Chicago, one of the key guys and trying to contribute every night in and night out.”

Ball, who turned 24 this past October, was just 19 years old when the Lakers drafted him. His growing pains were pronounced as a rookie, especially his wobbly shooting ability. The scrutiny only intensified when LeBron James arrived on the Lakers in 2018, a move that changed the overall trajectory of both the franchise as well as of Ball’s development. Ball was eventually traded to the Pelicans in 2019 as part of the Anthony Davis deal.

In New Orleans and now in Chicago, Ball has flown more under the radar and has quietly been able to develop his game into that of a strong all-around winning piece. As for his time with the Lakers though, there is probably another reason why Ball had such massive expectations then.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Miami boosters want team to pry away prominent Pac-12 coach?

Mario Cristobal in an Oregon shirt

Boosters for the University of Miami may have a head coaching target in mind, and it does not matter that he is already employed.

Five Reason Sports Network reported Saturday that major boosters tied to the university are pushing the administration to try to pry away head coach Mario Cristobal from the Oregon Ducks. Cristobal is probably the biggest fish in the Pac-12 right now after leading the No. 11-ranked Ducks this season to a 9-2 record, which leads the conference.

As for the Hurricanes, they have stumbled to a 6-5 record this season under third-year coach Manny Diaz. The Hurricanes also just fired athletic director Blake James, which could be a signal that a coaching change is next.

The link for Cristobal is obvious. He is a Miami native and was a four-year letterman for the Hurricanes during his playing career. Cristobal played on two of Miami’s national title teams in 1989 and in 1991 and also began his coaching career with them in 1998 as a graduate assistant followed by stints as the tight ends coach and then the offensive line coach for the Hurricanes.

Additionally, Miami probably offers a bit more prestige and excitement for Cristoabl than Oregon, especially if he can be the native son who restores the program to its winning ways. It’s almost as if Cristobal makes too sense for the Hurricanes. That is unless they are eyeing an even bigger name.

Photo: Nov 23, 2019; Tempe, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Barkley hints at when he may retire from television

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley has been a mainstay on the television airwaves ever since he retired from the NBA in 2000. But now he is hinting at when he may ride off into the sunset altogether.

Barkley appeared this week on ESPN’s “The Paul Finebaum Show” and hinted at when he may bring down the curtains on his illustrious TV career.

“I made up this goal when I turn 60,” said Barkley. “I’m gonna get me a big ol’ fish bowl, put different countries in there, and spin it up. For one week a month, I’m gonna go to some place in the world that I’ve never been before. That’s always been a goal of mine. I can’t wait to try it. It’s just a game, but I wanna try it. I wanna see the whole world.

“I wanna be like John Madden,” added Barkley. “I thought John Madden was great at his job, but the one thing you don’t wanna do is stay on too long. I’m not comparing myself to John, I wanna make that clear. He’s the best to ever do it, and he left before his time was up. We all have to make this decision whether you’re a television announcer, radio announcer, or a jock … It’s better to leave early than late. You see some jocks out there, some guys on television like, ‘Are they wheeling him out there to do a broadcast?'”

The TNT “Inside the NBA” analyst Barkley is currently 58 and will turn 60 in Feb. 2023. When he does decide to retire from television, there will be no replacing Barkley, who is truly one-of-a-kind with his unfiltered and often times savage commentary.

Barkley recently had funny comments on how he avoids cancel culture. But it turns out that he could soon be cancelling himself in effect in order to travel the world and enjoy a true retirement.

H/T NBA Reddit

Photo: November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

NFL did absurd ratings numbers with Thanksgiving game

Roger Goodell

The NFL ate well on Thanksgiving this year and not just at the table.

CBS revealed Friday that the marquee Thanksgiving game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys was the “most-watched NFL regular season game on any network since 1990,” per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. CBS also said that the game brought in an estimated average viewership of 38.531 million.

The Raiders held off a second-half comeback by the Cowboys to win in a 36-33 overtime thriller. The ratings numbers were especially staggering given that the Cowboys were without star receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. Raiders tight end Darren Waller also left early due to injury.

It is a good thing that the Cowboys-Raiders matchup carried the league. After all, we did see some other pretty terrible games on the Thanksgiving slate.

Dwight Howard has 1 big complaint about the way he is treated by media

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard is not having an easy time going from “Taxi Driver” Robert DeNiro to “The Irishman” Robert DeNiro.

The veteran Los Angeles Lakers center spoke this week for a GQ feature and sounded off on the lack of coverage he feels gets from the media these days.

“I’ve watched how I’m rarely talked about when they mention [the Lakers],” he said. “It’s like I’m an afterthought. Like damn … I look at when ESPN highlights the Lakers. Obviously, they’re gonna show LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis, or Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook. And me and Rajon Rondo are left out, like we haven’t done great things in our career. Like we haven’t been amazing. We’re always left out of certain things.

“I try not to look too deep into it, but that s— be the case,” Howard added. “We’ve done exceptional things in this league and still are. So, while we’re playing we should get some praise for the hard work that we put in. I don’t want nobody to kiss my butt or nothin’ like that. But appreciation should go a long way, especially when people are alive.”

Though he has a highly-decorated resume and was once considered one of the best players on the planet, the 35-year-old Howard is largely seen as a has-been these days. It is especially so now that Howard is a role player coming off the bench on a Lakers team with so many other stars and/or future Hall of Famers commanding the spotlight.

Howard hinted at similar frustrations when he was left off the NBA 75 team last month. But as illustrated by players like Blake Griffin and Kevin Love or (in more extreme cases) Andrew Bynum and Roy Hibbert, there is a definite shelf life for big men when it comes to being en vogue in the NBA.

Photo: Jan 15, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) arrives at Toyota Center before a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

LaVar Ball takes shot at Hornets for odd reason

LaVar Ball in a suit

Though the Charlotte Hornets organization employs two of his sons, that is not stopping LaVar Ball from being LaVar Ball.

The infamous Ball family father spoke this week with TMZ Sports and took a shot at the Hornets over their handling of middle son LiAngelo.

“They don’t understand what they got,” said LaVar of the Hornets. “They need to let my boy go ahead and play. I dropped them a superstar in the G League, and they don’t know what to do with him … Y’all got him right in your back door. Bring him in, let him play with Melo [LaMelo Ball].”

LaVar’s criticism is odd for a couple of reasons. For one, LiAngelo just made his debut for the Greensboro Swarm, Charlotte’s G League affiliate, a couple of weeks ago. It is rare for a player to make the leap from the G League to the NBA so soon unless they are on a two-way contract, which LiAngelo is not. For another, the Hornets have playoff aspirations this season, so it is not in their best interest to develop players from the G League. Finally, the Hornets have already given youngest Ball brother LaMelo a starring gig as the centerpiece of their offense, a role he has thrived in. Yet still, LaVar is finding ways to criticize the team.

Of course, we know that LaVar has always been more about entertainment than rationality. Thus, it is probably best to just laugh off these comments from LaVar, just like his past ones about the Hornets owner.

Photo: Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; LaVar Ball the father of NBA prospect Lonzo Ball (not pictured) in attendance before the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Vogel could be on hot seat for Lakers?

Frank Vogel

Frank Vogel may be the latest LeBron James coach to be feeling the heat.

Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein reported in his newsletter this week that there is “rising buzz in coaching circles about the pressure mounting” on the Los Angeles Lakers head coach Vogel. The Lakers are 10-10 this season, and Stein notes that they lack flexibility to make roster changes.

The disappointing start for the Lakers has them currently seeded seventh in the Western Conference. The age and makeup of their roster also suggests that this is a championship-or-bust year for the Lakers.

Vogel is in his third season as coach of the Lakers. While he did already lead the team to a championship during his first season in 2020, there is at least some precedent for a James team making a midseason coaching change in spite of the success of the sitting coach. David Blatt led James’ Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA Finals berth in 2015 only to be fired halfway through the next season, despite the Cavs having a record of 30-11 at the time. This time around, Lakers assistant David Fizdale, a known James favorite, is lurking behind Vogel as a potential replacement.

The 48-year-old Vogel agreed to a contract extension with the Lakers this past offseason but is still only signed through 2022-2023. Though James has shown support for Vogel in recent months, Vogel could be in danger if the Lakers continue to be merely mediocre in James’ age-37 season.

H/T Lakers Daily

Photo: Nelson Chenault-USA Today Sports