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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Twitter reacts to MLB’s proposed ‘wet rag’ rule for 2020

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball is scrambling to address various concerns as they look to implement a shortened 2020 season, and one suggested rule change in particular is drawing some attention.

Chris Cotillo of MLB.com reported on Tuesday that one of the proposed rule changes for 2020 is to allow pitchers to keep a wet rag in their pocket as a substitute for licking their fingers. The idea is to allow pitchers to maintain their grip on the ball in a more sanitary way amid the current health climate.

This “wet rag rule” was promptly roasted on Twitter and led to a bunch of funny reactions. Here were some of the best ones:

Other than the rule being pretty darn funny on its face, it could prove difficult to institute for a number of reasons. For one, finger-licking is basically second nature for pitchers. For another, the rule could potentially open the door for various foreign substances to appear on the wet rag undetected.

The league is looking to enact some other odd new rules for 2020 as well, but the wet rag one might be the most hilarious one of them all.

Paul George shares why he asked out of Indiana

Paul George

Paul George’s time with the Indiana Pacers ended in a fairly messy split, but it turns out that he may have had good reason for handling things like he did.

Appearing this week on the “Knuckleheads” podcast, the LA Clippers star revealed why he asked for a trade from the Pacers in the summer of 2017.

“I ain’t gon’ say the names, because I’m going to keep their business private, I’ma just say it like this,” George said, according to RealGM. “I had at the time, the best power forward saying he wanted to come to Indy and team up with me. They’re like, ‘We’re a mid-major, we’re a small market, like, we can’t do it … we can’t afford that.’ I’m like the best power forward wants to come play here, like, y’all can’t make that work? They didn’t want to do it.

“So I’m like, now I’m pissed, because it’s like, what am I doing here? You know what I mean? They don’t want to win,” the six-time All-Star continued. “I’ve got the best power forward that wants to come play here. Not everybody chooses Indy to come play here.”

George did not reveal who the player was, though a Pacers reporter says the player was Anthony Davis. Davis was not a free agent at the time and would have cost the team a lot in trade compensation, with no promises of him re-signing, so the team’s reluctant to make a trade was understandable.

George butted heads with the Pacers over their desire to play him at the power forward spot. The team declining a chance to add a top talent at that very same position might very well have been the last straw for George.

George ended up demanding a trade and was dealt to the Thunder. He later demanded a trade from OKC and was dealt to the Clippers last summer.

Report: Nikola Jokic tests positive for coronavirus; return to US delayed

Nikola Jokic

One top NBA star has tested positive for the coronavirus with just over a month to go before the league’s planned restart in Orlando.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Tuesday that Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic tested positive for the disease in his native Serbia, delaying his return to the United States temporarily. Wojnarowski adds that Jokic has been asymptomatic since the positive test last week and is expected to be cleared to travel to Denver within a week.

The two-time All-Star Jokic had been back in the headlines in recent days for his slimmed-down figure during an appearance at an exhibition game in his home country. Reports later emerged however that Jokic may have been exposed to the virus at that game, having been in close proximity to an individual with a confirmed positive test.

Jokic, 25, had been averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game for the Nuggets this season. The team will be the No. 3 seed in the West upon the expected resumption of play at the end of July.

New Pistons GM expresses commitment to Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin Pistons

Some see former All-Star big man Blake Griffin as dead weight on the Detroit Pistons, but their new general manager certainly begs to differ.

At his introductory press conference Monday, Pistons GM hire Troy Weaver expressed the team’s continued commitment to the 31-year-old Griffin.

“As long as Blake is in a Pistons uniform, I look forward to working with him,” said Weaver, per James Edwards III of The Athletic. “He’s in our plans moving forward.”

Griffin is still under contract for $75.6 million over the next two seasons. But seemingly endless knee surgeries have limited his effectiveness and overall availability for the Pistons, who appear to be stuck in constant mediocrity.

Weaver, the former vice president of basketball operations for the Oklahoma City Thunder, will have the challenging task of righting the ship for Detroit. It does look like Griffin, who recently signaled confidence about his ability to return to a high level of play, will be staying along for the ride though.

Kareem Hunt wants to sign extension with Browns

Kareem Hunt’s stay with the Browns has been a brief one thus far, but he would like to stick around in Cleveland for the long run.

Speaking with reporters on Monday, the Browns running back said that there was “no question” he would like to sign an extension with the team, per Scott Petrak of The Chronicle-Telegram.

“I would not mind playing for Browns for [a] long time,” Hunt added.

The 24-year-old ex-Pro Bowler logged 464 yards from scrimmage and three total touchdowns in eight games for the Browns last year. He was suspended for the other eight games as a result of the 2018 incident where he assaulted a woman at a hotel, leading to his release from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Hunt signed his one-year, $3.3 million restricted tender from the Browns this offseason and will be a free agent after the 2020 season as it currently stands. Reasons to be skeptical about Hunt still exist, but he could play himself into a favorable new deal with a strong performance next season.

Evan Fournier takes shot at Davis Bertans over decision to sit out

Davis Bertans has made the decision to sit out of the NBA’s planned restart in Orlando, and one fellow player does not exactly respect him for it.

In a pair of tweets on Tuesday, Orlando Magic forward Evan Fournier reacted to the news that the Washington Wizards forward would not be taking part in the resumption of play. Fournier said that Bertans’ decision represented what was wrong with today’s league and questioned him for sitting while healthy.

In reality, it is a lot more complex than Fournier makes it seem. Bertans is in a contract year and was having the best season of his NBA career when play was suspended. His Wizards also had the worst record of any team to be invited to Orlando, giving them a very miniscule chance of actually competing (unlike Fournier’s Magic who were the No. 8 seed in the East).

Bertans’ history of ACL injuries was also cited in his decision to sit out, so it seems like a very fair and justifiable choice for him to make.

Ex-Tennessee star Grant Williams trolls Vanderbilt with Father’s Day tweet

Tennessee Vols logo

Grant Williams chose to celebrate Father’s Day very fittingly on Sunday.

Williams, the former Tennessee star and current Boston Celtics forward, took to Twitter to troll his old SEC rival school Vanderbilt with a hilarious tweet implying that he was their father. Take a look:

The 21-year-old Williams, who spent three seasons with the Volunteers, was famous for the headaches that he gave to the Commodores during his college career. Williams twice set career-highs against Vanderbilt, scoring 37 points on them in 2018 followed by a 43-point outburst against them in 2019.

Even in the NBA, Williams continues to live rent-free in his opponents’ heads, and Sunday’s tweet was an indication of what makes him a truly great troll.

Ken Griffey Jr reveals what was behind his hatred for Yankees

Ken Griffey backwards hat

Ken Griffey Jr had no love lost for the New York Yankees during his playing career, and now he is revealing exactly where that resentment stemmed from.

During MLB Network’s airing Sunday of the documentary “Junior,” Griffey, the subject of the film, told a story about how then-New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner once had him removed from the team’s dugout as a kid. Griffey’s father Ken Sr. was an outfielder for the Yankees at the time.

“I came up to visit my dad, and it was just me and him, and got to the ballpark early,” said Griffey. “I’m sitting in the dugout, and the security guard comes over and says, ‘Hey, George doesn’t want anyone in the dugout.’ My dad was like, ‘What? My son.’ So he goes, ‘Alright, hey, go in my locker. But before you go, look at third base.’ It’s Graig Nettles’ son taking groundballs at third base.”

The film also showed Griffey in archival footage from early on in his MLB career telling fans, “If the Yankees were the last team, if they were the only team that gave me a contract, I’d retire.”

Griffey would get his revenge against the Yankees by becoming one of baseball’s best all-around players for the American League rival Seattle Mariners. He also knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs with a series-winning hit in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS.

Ken Sr. also shared a story a few years ago about a run-in that his son had with then-Yankees manager Billy Martin that may have contributed to Junior’s ire as well. Regardless, Griffey was one of the few stars of that era that the Yanks were not able to acquire at some point, and now we have a better idea of why.