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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Stories by Grey Papke:

Diamondbacks were not aware of Madison Bumgarner’s secret rodeo career

Madison Bumgarner

The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t sound particularly enthralled with Madison Bumgarner’s secret rodeo career.

Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen admitted Monday that the team had no idea Bumgarner had used the alias Mason Saunders to secretly compete in professional rodeo events, but the team does believe the pitcher has not done so since signing with Arizona.

As funny as the story about Bumgarner’s well-honed alias is, it does open up a bit of a can of worms from a contractual perspective. This is not the sort of thing the Diamondbacks would like to see Bumgarner doing, and it’s normal for contracts to include language prohibiting players from taking part in potentially dangerous activities. It may be true that Bumgarner hasn’t taken part in any rodeos since signing, but there’s no guarantee he won’t over the course of his contract, and it’s not clear if the Diamondbacks will know or what they’ll do about it.

Astros offer first legal defense in lawsuit over cheating scandal

Astros cheating meme

The Houston Astros are in the awkward spot of having to defend themselves against various lawsuits brought by fans and even a former player about their cheating in 2017.

The Astros filed their response to the first of those lawsuits, this one by daily fantasy sports players who argued in their filing that Houston’s cheating corrupted their games in 2017. The Astros responded by essentially arguing that cheating should be expected to be part of the game.

“It is well established…that attendees or viewers at sporting events have no express or implied right to an event free of penalties, undisclosed injuries, rules violations, cheating, or similar conduct, and claims asserting such a right have been repeatedly dismissed,” the Astros’ brief said, via Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. “Even accepting the Complaint’s allegations as true, the alleged sign-stealing does not in itself render false any statement about the team’s strengths and successes.

“If there is any implied understanding of fans, it is that rule infractions will occur during the games.”

The Astros were also dismissive of claims that the Astros did not perform as well in away games due to not having access to their schemes, citing stats showing the Astros hitting better on the road in 2017 than at home.

MLB and the Boston Red Sox, also named in the lawsuit, largely echoed Houston’s arguments. They also pointed to an appeals court ruling on a lawsuit brought by a New York Jets fan over the New England Patriots’ Spygate allegations which stated that fans cannot sue over alleged cheating.

The Astros are also facing other lawsuits very different than this one, and they’ll likely have to adapt their arguments in each case. However, we’ve probably seen the backbone of their argument here already.

Madison Bumgarner uses a secret alias ‘Mason Saunders’ to participate in rodeo events

Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner is well-known as a three-time World Series champion and elite postseason pitcher. He’s also known as a regular rodeo participant, albeit under a different name.

After a bit of research, Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan of The Athletic deduced that Bumgarner, now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, participates in various rodeo events under the alias Mason Saunders. Bumgarner even won $26,560 in a team-roping competition last December, and his picture is posted on the venue’s Facebook page.

Bumgarner owned up to the hobby, and admitted that he may have won other events under the alias. The name is derived from a shortened version of his first name and his wife’s maiden name, and he uses it because he does not want to attract outside attention while competing.

And yes, Bumgarner is serious about those competitions.

“No matter what hobbies I have, I take ’em serious,” Bumgarner said. “That’s just my personality. I don’t do anything just for fun, per se. I wish I did.”

The Diamondbacks would not divulge whether Bumgarner’s rodeo habit was a breach of his contractual language. It was not a total secret that he participated, as he’d divulged it in a 2016 interview while with the San Francisco Giants. As long as the pitcher is a little more careful with that hobby than he was with his dirt biking, the Diamondbacks will probably be able to get over it.

Hurricanes have big plans for viral star David Ayres

David Ayres

The Carolina Hurricanes are riding a wave of popularity right now thanks to viral sensation David Ayres.

Ayres came into Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs as the emergency goalie, but was pressed into action after both of Carolina’s regular goalies got hurt. Ayers managed to get the win, and quickly became a sensation beyond the sports world.

The Hurricanes have wisely been taking full advantage. They’re already selling Ayres shirts, but in a cool twist, some of the proceeds will go toward an appropriate kidney foundation as a nod to Ayres’ status as a kidney transplant survivor.

That’s not all. Ayres will be at the Hurricanes’ next home game Tuesday to sound the traditional pregame siren.

Ayres has gone from an AHL zamboni driver to something of a celebrity after his eventful Saturday night. Hurricanes fans will certainly never forget it, and Ayres is going to get some viral fame out of this. Both sides might as well make the most of it, and it sure seems like they’re intent to do just that.

Karl Dorrell will make $18 million as Colorado head coach

Karl Dorrell

The Colorado Buffaloes gave Karl Dorrell a nice payday to lure him back to college football.

Dorrell was officially named the new coach at Colorado on Sunday, with the school’s Board of Regents approving a contract that will pay him $18 million over five seasons.

Dorrell will actually make more than former coach Mel Tucker was slated to make in 2020. Tucker made just shy of $2.7 million in his lone season with the Buffaloes, but got a huge raise when moving to Michigan State.

There will be questions about whether Dorrell deserves the payday, but Colorado was in a tough spot with a coaching search at this time of year and probably had to offer a good chunk of money to get people to listen. It’s unfortunate for them, but it’s what they had to do.

Report: Mavericks filing official protest over end of loss to Hawks

Mark Cuban

For the second time this season, an NBA game is subject to an official protest by one of its teams.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Dallas Mavericks have filed an official protest over the ending of Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Mavericks claim that the rules were misapplied and Hawks center John Collins’ game-winning basket with 8.4 seconds left should not have stood.

Collins was originally called for goaltending when he tipped in a blocked layup to put the Hawks up by 4. Game officials said there was an inadvertent whistle on the play, and as Collins was in his shooting motion when the whistle blew, the play was ruled a continuation and the basket counted.

The first protest of the season, filed by the Houston Rockets, was dismissed largely because it happened with enough time left that commissioner Adam Silver determined the team had the chance to overcome the error. With this one happening inside the final ten seconds, that reason won’t fly here, so it will be interesting to see what the NBA makes of it.

UConn issues scathing statement after ex-coach Kevin Ollie serves Dan Hurley with subpoena

Dan Hurley

Former UConn coach Kevin Ollie’s legal battle with the school took a wild turn Saturday, and the university is not happy.

Ollie has been fighting to recoup nearly $11 million after being fired for just cause after being charged with numerous NCAA violations in 2018. That legal battle spilled over Saturday, when current Connecticut coach Dan Hurley was served with a subpoena at his home Saturday to testify in the Ollie case.

UConn responded with a scathing statement Sunday criticizing Ollie and his legal team for their actions. The school claims that they had an agreement with Ollie’s team that the school attorney would accept all subpoenas on behalf of the university, and said that the actions against Hurley violate that agreement.

As UConn notes, Hurley, who was hired after Ollie’s firing, doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the ongoing case. Serving him with a subpoena at his home feels like an attempt for Ollie’s side to gain attention, but it appears to be a really bad look and might cost Ollie some public sympathy.

Raiders to make public minicamp first team event in Las Vegas

Jon Gruden

The Raiders appear to have their first major event in their new home.

Coach Jon Gruden said Saturday night while attending the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury fight that the Raiders will be holding their mandatory minicamp from June 14-16 in the Las Vegas area. Gruden added that the team hopes to accommodate as many members of the public as possible at the event.

“If we can let everyone in, we will,” Gruden said, via Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

It was not clear if the event would be held in Las Vegas or at the team’s practice facility in nearby Hendersonville, but planning still appears to be ongoing.

The move to Vegas seems to be going well. Despite initial concerns, there appears to be a willing fanbase recreating some of the traditions from Oakland, and a minicamp is sure to draw some fan interest. How much of it sticks once the games begin remains to be seen.