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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Tom Brady posts great recap of ‘The Match,’ says he will keep his day job

Tom Brady certainly was not the best golfer on the course during “The Match” on Sunday, but the four-time Super Bowl MVP enjoyed the experience. Playing alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson was, however, a friendly reminder for Brady that he is in the right profession.

Brady reflected on “The Match” in an Instagram post on Wednesday. He provided a lengthy recap that included some nice words for Woods, Mickelson and Peyton Manning in addition to a bit of self-criticism.

View this post on Instagram

I learned a few lessons from this past weekend’s golf tournament with @philmickelson @tigerwoods and #Peyton…I had a lot of fun and grateful to be part of an event that raised a lot of money for Covid relief: 1. Amazing what happens when groups of people come together for the common good. 2. Peyton is still as clutch as ever. 3. I did not escape the inclement weather…heavy stuff…ALL DAY. 4. I shouldn’t wear the same pants to golf that I wear to church. 5. As great as @philmickelson is as a golfer, he is a better man, coach and teammate and potentially has the best calves on the PGA Tour. 6. I really enjoy golf…at halftime of football games we get checked for concussions, in golf, you get refreshments. 7. It was nice to be the young guy again. 8. @tigerwoods was a great host and champion, and I was especially thankful he missed that putt on the 7th hole…had he made it, I would have just went home. 9. I’m sticking to my day job

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Brady found himself in an unfamiliar position throughout much of the event — embarrassing himself on national television. He couldn’t seem to hit a fairway all day, and he even split his pants after making perhaps the best shot of the round. It simply was not the 42-year-old’s day, but he helped raise $20 million for a good cause.

While Brady should definitely stick to his day job, we wouldn’t hate seeing him take part in “The Match” again in the future.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have teamed up yet again! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.

Fan builds awesome Dodger Stadium replica wall in backyard

Los Angeles Dodgers stadium

Being a diehard Los Angeles Dodgers fan living in Massachusetts can’t be easy. Your favorite team plays 3,000 miles away, and watching a game usually requires staying up past midnight. One fan, however, has found a way to bring the team to him.

Ben Massé is a Dodgers fan living in West Springfield, Mass. The teacher and soccer coach has not been working while adhering to stay-at-home orders, so he decided to use the extra time to build a replica of the Dodger Stadium outfield wall in his backyard. And he did an outstanding job.

Massé, who became a Dodgers fan in high school while doing a project on Jackie Robinson, told Con Las Bases Llenas that the idea began as a joke, but it quickly became a reality.

“… I did some drawing and put together a list of materials,” he said, via Chuck Schilken of the Los Angeles Times. “So my father-in-law helped me with the construction and my wife helped me with the painting. Everything was done by hand, including the markers on the wall.”

Massé said he started the project in April and it took him about a month to complete. He is hoping to add bleachers and a concession stand at some point and possibly host charity Wiffle Ball tournaments.

We’ve seen some impressive ballpark replicas in the past, but Massé’s is certainly among the best.

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson could play annual match with celebrity partners

You could come up with a long list of reasons for why “The Match” was such a massive success on Sunday, and a lot of that has to do with all that is going on in the world. Still, having Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson grab a celebrity partner and square off against one another is something that would always draw a big audience, which is why it could become an annual event.

With an average of 5.8 million viewers, Sunday’s match that pitted Woods and Peyton Manning against Mickelson and Tom Brady was the most-watched golf telecast in cable TV history. It also raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief. Plans are now in the works to do something similar every year, and Mickelson told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times that he already has some thoughts on who could partake in the future.

“I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents and have great personalities,” Mickelson said. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”

Woods and Mickelson originally agreed to three separate events, according to Markazi. The first was in 2018, when they went head-to-head without partners. Bryan Zuriff, a film and TV producer who thought of the first event, said one of the issues with it was that Tiger and Phil are both pro golfers and stopped talking much down the stretch when their competitive natures took over. Having other athletes or celebrities join them helps with that, though Mickelson isn’t sure anyone will be better in that department than Brady and Manning.

“They were humanized with their golf game yet they were competitive and they were funny and entertaining. They let their sense of humor come out,” Mickelson said. “It’s about finding the right mix of those competitors and I don’t think we could get two better guys than who we had in Peyton and Tom. Going forward that will be the challenge. How do we improve on that?”

While future installments of “The Match” may not draw as many viewers, they would undoubtedly be a success. There are plenty of ways to liven up the broadcast no matter who is playing, and we saw several great examples of that on Sunday. Hopefully Tiger and Phil keep it going.

Blake Snell changes agents, hires Scott Boras

Blake Snell

Blake Snell was outspoken recently in expressing concerns over his financial future, and the Tampa Bay Rays star has now decided to hire one of the most powerful agents in sports.

Snell said Monday that he is changing representation, but he did not discuss specifics. According to Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic, Snell has left Apex Baseball to sign with Scott Boras.

Snell is signed through the 2023 season. Apex negotiated his current five-year, $50 million deal, which he signed in March of 2019 and was the largest contract in MLB history for a player before he reached arbitration. The left-hander will be 31 when he is scheduled to become a free agent in 2024.

While Snell is not up for a new contract anytime soon, it may not be a coincidence that he has hired Boras at a time when MLB is negotiating a deal with players for a likely abbreviated 2020 season. Snell was outspoken in criticizing team owners for asking players to take a pay cut, and Boras has also spoken out against the league over the handling of the negotiations.

Snell dealt with injuries last season and underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery. He made just 23 starts and posted a 4.29 ERA. The season was a major disappointment for him after he won the Cy Young Award in 2018 with a 21-5 record and outstanding 1.89 ERA.

NBA reportedly considering World Cup-style pool play for when season resumes

Adam Silver

The NBA appears to be leaving no stone unturned when discussing possible formats for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. We have already heard that the league is considering jumping right into the postseason, but could the playoff field include more than 16 teams?

The NBA recently sent a survey to team general managers asking for their feedback on a potential format for the resumption of play, and one option was to group teams into pools similar to the early stages of the World Cup. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, teams would be divided into a certain number of groups and face each member of their group the same amount of times. The final standings from pool play would determine which eight teams emerge and compete in a more traditional playoff tournament.

One potential complication is that the pool play proposal would include more than the 16 teams that currently would qualify for the playoffs under normal league rules. If additional teams are included in pool play to battle for eight spots, a scenario could unfold where one of the top teams in the NBA gets knocked out in the pool round. As you might expect, sources told Lowe that some current postseason teams are not happy about that idea.

A final decision has not yet been made, but the NBA is hoping to have a plan in place by Friday. We’re guessing teams would find one of the other potential playoff formats more favorable than a pool system, though anything is possible at this point.

Jon Kitna’s son Jalen commits to Florida

Florida Gators

Jon Kitna’s son has made a decision on where he will play college football, and the quarterback is choosing the Florida Gators.

Jalen Kitna announced in a tweet on Tuesday that he has committed to Florida for the Class of 2021.

Kitna is a pro-style quarterback who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 200 pounds. The three-star recruit is ranked as the 54th overall player in the state of Texas by Rivals and the 17th-best quarterback.

Kitna joins four-star quarterback Carlos Del Rio as Florida commits for 2021.

Jon Kitna, of course, was a journeyman in the NFL for several seasons. He had stints with the Seahawks, Bengals, Lions and Cowboys and was the quarterbacks coach in Dallas last year. He is now the head coach at Burleson High School in Texas.

Jalen Ramsey says he will not hold out of training camp over contract

Jalen Ramsey

Jalen Ramsey essentially forced his way out of Jacksonville because the Jaguars would not give him the contract he was seeking, but the Pro Bowl cornerback does not plan to hold the Los Angeles Rams to the same standards — at least in the coming weeks.

During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Ramsey said he has no intention of holding out from training camp this summer even if the Rams do not sign him to a long-term extension. He expressed confidence that the two sides are on the same page and said he is not concerned about a deal getting done.

Ramsey is set to make $13.7 million under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract this season. The Rams have shelled out big money to players like Aaron Donald and Jared Goff, and they would not have traded two first-round picks to the Jaguars for Ramsey last season if they did not plan to do the same with him.

While he may have flamboyantly campaigned for a new contract during his time in Jacksonville, Ramsey said his disagreements with the Jags were about a lack of respect. He obviously feels differently about the Rams’ front office.

Report: NFL teams could begin full-squad minicamps as early as June 15

Roger Goodell

NFL teams have been receiving clearance from their local governments in recent days to reopen their facilities and resume training, and there is optimism that minicamp could begin in a matter of weeks.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday that NFL head coaches could return to facilities next week, and minicamps could start as early as mid-June. If coaches are able to resume work at their facilities next week, minicamp may start as early as June 15 and no later than June 27. The decision, of course, still depends on whether certain teams are allowed to resume daily activities.

New York and New Jersey, which have been two of the hardest-hit states by the coronavirus, recently gave professional sports teams the green light to resume training. California has yet to do the same, and one source told Robinson that clearance from governor Gavin Newsom will be one of the key determining factors for the NFL in deciding if minicamp in June is possible. Newsom recently said sports operations could resume as early as next month with “modifications and very prescriptive conditions.”

If minicamp does not begin until June 27, that would be two weeks later than usual and might result in the the start of training camp — which is usually in July — being delayed.

Whether minicamp begins in two weeks or not, the NFL seems determined to find a way to begin the regular season on time. Another team owner gave an optimistic outlook on Tuesday.