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#pounditTuesday, January 26, 2021

Stories by Gordon Dixon:

Breanna Stewart upset about seeming disrespect for WNBA Finals

Breanna Stewart

Breanna Stewart took to social media to express her displeasure over an apparent lack of respect for the deciding game of this year’s WNBA Finals.

On Thursday, the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun met in Washington D.C. for Game 5 of the Finals. Despite the fact that it is last game of the WNBA season, and a winner-take-all game for the championship, the buzz surrounding the game did not match that of other sporting events that evening. That didn’t sit well with the Seattle Storm star, who made reference to the attention an NBA preseason game was receiving.

Stewart’s tweet garnered responses mentioning Game 5 of the ALDS between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays as well as the “Thursday Night Football” game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants that were also taking place Thursday evening. It’s those types of comment that confirm the basis of Stewart’s frustration with the place of the WNBA in the American sports landscape.

The Washington Mystics beat the Connecticut Sun 89-78 to win their first championship.

Alex Ovechkin to throw out first pitch before Nationals’ Game 4

One of Washington D.C.’s most popular athletes will throw out there ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Nationals returned home after earning a split in the two games that took place in Los Angeles. Washington winning one of the first two games means there will be at least four games in the best-of-five series. Prior to Game 4, the crowd at Nationals Park will get to see one of its sports heroes throw out the ceremonial first pitch: Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin, the captain of the Washington Capitals, was the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy (MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs) as the Capitals won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship in 2018. Hopefully this attempt is better than the last time Ovechkin was given the opportunity to throw out a first pitch.

Watch: Oregon’s Cyrus Habibi-Likio destroys fan who runs onto field

Oregon Cyrus Habibi Likio

A fan found out the hard way that running onto the field at Autzen Stadium can be a painful endeavor.

During Saturday night’s game between the Oregon and Cal, a fan got the not-so-bright idea to run onto the field. As he approached the 15-yard line, he put his arms up in the air in a victorious motion. A couple of seconds later he was tackled to the ground by Oregon running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio.

As a running back, Habibi-Likio is used to avoiding tackles. This time, he was the one delivering the shot.

Videos via Lisa Catto and McKennaeLise22

Freddie Freeman: Ronald Acuna not running out of box ‘frustrating’

Ronald Acuna

Freddie Freeman voiced his frustration at a teammate after the Atlanta Braves’ loss in Game 1 of their National League Division Series.

The Braves pulled to within one run after entering the bottom of the ninth inning down 7-3 but came up just short to lose the first game of their series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. After the game, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman called out teammate Ronald Acuna Jr. for not running hard out of the box — an issue that has been present throughout this season.

The play Freeman is referring to took place in the seventh inning. Acuna was caught watching the ball instead of hustling out of the batter’s box on a drive to right field. As a result, Acuna ended up with a single instead of what could have been a double.

Acuna did hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning and finished the game with three hits. There’s no doubt he’s one of the more talented players in baseball and is already a star at just 21 years old. However, there is a lesson to be learned from Thursday’s game. Hopefully for the Braves, it sinks in this time.

A’s continue ugly streak in postseason elimination games

The Oakland Athletics’ loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday was the latest in a string of disappointing performances in playoff elimination games by the club.

The A’s entered this year’s American League Wild Card Game with the home field advantage. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Rays came away with a 5-1 victory and a date with the Houston Astros in the ALDS.

For Oakland, it was their ninth consecutive loss in postseason winner-take-all games — a streak that goes back to 2000. The A’s have also loss 15 of their past 16 potential clinching games.

Oakland won 97 games for the second consecutive season this year, which is their highest total since winning 103 in 2002. However, the sour taste of extending an unfortunate streak will be cause for questions that need answering during the offseason.

Team executive Billy Beane has long described the playoffs as a craps shoot because they are prone to small sample size results and flukes. But after losing nine straight elimination games, Beane might have to wonder whether his team has just been unlucky, or whether something more is going on.

Kerryon Johnson has great response to Eagles’ defense against him

Kerryon Johnson

Kerryon Johnson had a great response to a social media post about how the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense played against him.

Johnson found yards tough to come by during Sunday’s 27-24 win by his Detroit Lions over the Eagles. The Lions running back carried the ball 20 times for 36 yards, an average of just 1.8 yards per carry.

Johnson was held in check due to Philadelphia routinely putting eight or more defenders close to the line of scrimmage. That led to Johnson joking on Twitter that there must be a “conspiracy theory going on.”

As a rookie last season, Johnson led the Lions in rushing with 641 yards in 10 games. With Detroit releasing veteran C.J. Anderson, Johnson is in line for plenty of work as Detroit’s main man in the backfield. That means, nice guy or not, Johnson may face more stacked boxes in the near future. It’s up to Detroit’s passing game to take advantage.

Bud Dupree apologized to Russell Wilson over illegal hit

Russell Wilson

Bud Dupree said he offered an apology to Russell Wilson over his hit to the Seattle Seahawks quarterback during Week 2.

During Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers, Dupree delivered what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet hit on Wilson. Even though the play did not draw a penalty flag, there were more than a few people who thought Dupree might hear from the NFL in the form of a fine.

On Wednesday, Dupree said he had not yet heard from the league, though fines are typically given out on Fridays. Dupree also said he apologized to Wilson after the play, indicating he did not have malicious intent.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said he was informed by the NFL that the hit was indeed illegal.

It’s surprising Dupree’s hit wasn’t flagged at the time. Dupree and Pittsburgh surely are glad it wasn’t.

Yankees’ Dellin Betances suffers partial tear of left Achilles

Dellin Betances

Dellin Betances’ injury-plagued 2019 season ends after appearing in just one game.

Betances made his season debut this past Sunday after dealing with a combination of shoulder and lat injuries that date back to March. During his debut, the Yankees relief pitcher suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon, which occurred when Betances jumped on the pitcher’s mound.

Betances has been a valuable member of the Yankees’ bullpen over the past five seasons. He was named to the American League All-Star team in four of those seasons. However, this year has been one Betances will likely want to forget; he has not been able to escape the injury bug that will prevent him from helping New York in their quest for a World Series championship this postseason.