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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Jeanie Buss brushes off outsider attempts to buy Lakers

Jeanie Buss

There have been calls by some Los Angeles Lakers fans for Jeanie Buss to sell the Lakers, but don’t expect that to happen any time soon.

Buss is the controlling owner of the team, which her father bought in 1979. In comments to the LA Times on Monday at the NBA Awards show, Buss says she has received plenty of calls from interested buyers, but she brushes them all aside.

“There’s probably like at least, I’ve had probably 20 to 30 people actually call and want to buy the team in the last five years but there’s probably, oh, a billion people who would like to own the Lakers, too,” Buss said. “That’s nothing new. It was no surprise. Who wouldn’t want to own the Lakers?”

Buss has long been involved in the business side of the team, but she took a greater role when she effectively pushed out her brother from the basketball side in 2017 and installed Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson to head the front office. The team has missed the playoffs six straight seasons and made more headlines for negative reasons than positive ones lately. But with Anthony Davis and LeBron James on the roster, the team looks to have more promise entering next season.

The team needs to start winning in a big way to quell the negative talk surrounding Buss and her leadership group.

Yasiel Puig leaves helmet, bat at home plate after being ejected

Yasiel Puig left a parting gift on the field after being ejected from Tuesday’s game between his Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Angels.

Puig was tossed from the game after striking out looking in the top of the sixth inning. He was upset about a strike call on an inside breaking ball on the first pitch that put him behind in the count. The third pitch was a strike low and outside and caught him looking. After the bad call on the first pitch, Puig may have been expecting a makeup call that he didn’t get on the third and looked at umpire Kerwin Danley after the call. Danley had no tolerance and immediately ejected Puig, who then got in the umpire’s face and began cursing at him.

Reds manager David Bell eventually came out to talk with Danley, all while Puig remained on the field and spoke with one of the other members of the umpiring crew to share his side. Then when Bell was also ejected, Puig dumped his helmet and bat at home plate.

Puig was 0-for-3 in the game.

If he ends up getting some additional discipline from the league for his ejection, it could be because of his extra step of putting his gear on the field after being tossed.

Rockets’ reported free agency targets list emerges

The Houston Rockets’ top priority this summer seems to be trying to work a deal to land Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade deal. Such a move would be complicated to execute and require the influence of Butler and cooperation of the Philadelphia 76ers.

If Houston is unable to pull off a deal for Butler, they do have a list of other free agent options they are reportedly targeting.

The Athletic’s Sam Amick published an article on Tuesday in which he shared some of the team’s other potential targets. According to Amick, that list of other targets includes: Danny Green, Jeremy Lamb, Al-Farouq Aminu, DeAndre Jordan, Brook Lopez and Kevon Looney.

Jordan, Lopez and Looney are all big men but offer different skills. Lopez has incorporated a 3-point shot into his game and will likely be in demand this offseason. Jordan mostly is a rebounder and defense guy who seems to be limited to dunks on offense. Looney offers lineup versatility and strong defense. As for the others, Lamb emerged as a secondary scoring option behind Kemba Walker in Charlotte last season and offers plenty of steals on defense. Green is used to being a 3-and-D guy for Toronto and before that San Antonio. Aminu has stated his desire to remain in Portland, but it’s possible he could be enticed to leave if the right offer comes.

Houston already has so much in salary commitments to James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker that they would have to move some pieces around to create room to add any of the players listed above. Otherwise the only way they likely would be able to add one of those players would be through a mid-level exception.

Penn State coach James Franklin supporting Vandy at CWS

Penn State head coach James Franklin has raised some eyebrows with his support of Vanderbilt at the College World Series.

Franklin has been cheering on Vanderbilt as they face Michigan in the CWS Finals. During Game 2 of the series, he was seen celebrating a Vanderbilt home run.

ESPN’s Ryan McGee also reported on Monday that Franklin was in Vanderbilt gear for the series.

Franklin coached at Vanderbilt for three seasons from 2011-2013. He is now entering his sixth season at Penn State.

This is not Franklin’s first trip to Omaha to support his former school in the College World Series. He also did so in 2014. Corbin talked about it with The Tennesseean.

“He didn’t want to (come) at first because he was hesitant,” Corbin told the newspaper at the time. “But I said, ‘No, don’t worry about that. People get traded all the time. But at the same time it’s fine to maintain a relationship.’ And he came and I appreciated it.”

Corbin said he recruited Franklin hard to come to Vanderbilt and that they became close while working at the school.

Franklin continuing to support his close friend makes plenty of sense in that context. But he might be advised to avoid wearing their gear so as not to upset his current fanbase.

Rays fan Dick Vitale blasts team over split-season proposition

Tampa Bay Rays superfan Dick Vitale is not at all happy with the team over the split-season concept they have floated.

The Rays last week went public with the idea they are considering having two homes and playing half a season in the Tampa area and the other half in Montreal.

Vitale, who has been a longtime Rays fan, ripped the team on Twitter Tuesday over the idea.

Part of the Rays’ proposal includes the Tampa area giving them a new stadium that is open air because the team would only play there the first half of the season. Such a stadium would be cheaper to build than a dome or retractable roof, which is why it was suggested. But Vitale is not a fan of that idea, nor the concept as a whole.

While the Rays have had major attendance issues and need a change, this is a reminder that a plan like the one proposed might not resolve things so much as agitate it further.

Gabe Kapler ejected by Joe West for arguing after hit-by-pitch

Gabe Kapler

Gabe Kapler went over 230 games in his managerial career without ever being ejected from a game. And now he’s been ejected twice in the span of four days.

Kapler was tossed from Tuesday’s Philadelphia Phillies-New York Mets game by umpire Joe West after protesting a decision.

Wilmer Font had just given up back-to-back home runs to the Phillies, blowing a 5-2 lead in the sixth as Philly took a 7-5 lead. After surrendering the two homers, Font hit Scott Kingery with a pitch high on the shoulder.

Rather than immediately eject Font, West issued warnings to both sides. That left the Phillies in a bad spot; not only was Font spared an ejection, but if Philly tried to exact revenge by hitting a Mets player, their player would have been tossed. Kapler came out to argue and was quickly ejected.

Kapler seemed to have a good case for being upset.

Kapler was also ejected on Saturday against the Marlins, ironically on a play also involving Kingery being hit.

Bobby Portis reportedly looking for $16 million per season

Bobby Portis

Bobby Portis will likely have no shortage of suitors in free agency and will be looking for some big money.

Portis will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Washington Wizards extend him a qualifying offer as expected. The Athletic’s Tony Jones reported on Tuesday that Portis will be seeking as much as $16 million (per season) in free agency. The Wizards would not be expected to match an offer sheet for him on such terms.

Jones is a Utah Jazz reporter and previously reported that Portis has interest in signing with the Jazz.

Portis, 24, averaged 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season, split with Chicago and Washington. He offers outside shooting too and made 39.3 percent of his threes.

The Jazz have a $16.9 million team option on Derrick Favors that they could decline and then use the money on Portis. It’s a tricky decision for a squad that intends to seriously compete in the West after pulling off a trade for Mike Conley last week.

Second girl who ran up to hug Cody Bellinger posts video ‘worth it’

Cody Bellinger

For the second straight day, a girl ran onto the field to give Cody Bellinger a hug while he was in right field. And for the second straight day, the girl who did so said it was “worth it.”

On Sunday, a young girl ran onto the field during the Dodgers-Rockies game in Los Angeles and hugged Bellinger. Though she was handcuffed by security for the incident, she called it the “best day ever” and said it was “worth it.”

On Monday night, a different girl ran onto the field during the Dodgers-Diamondbacks in Arizona to hug Bellinger. Different city, same result. The girl posted the video on her Twitter profile Tuesday, saying it was “worth it” and she was “inspired.”

As this is beginning to develop into a trend, the Dodgers have grown concerned. Bellinger has as well and believes it could get “dangerous.”

He’s right. If young fans want to meet Bellinger, they should do so in appropriate settings, like by going to the park early and hanging near the field during batting practice, or by going to official meet-and-greet events. Running onto the field for a hug — especially if they think that’s how they’re going to get viral attention — is not the way to do it.