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#pounditMonday, April 12, 2021

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Trevor Bauer rips MLB over cheating story

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer is being investigated by MLB for possibly using a foreign substance on baseballs during his start on Wednesday, and the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher is already firing back.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Thursday that MLB has collected “multiple” baseballs that were thrown by Bauer on Wednesday. The balls reportedly had “visible markings and were sticky.”

Bauer responded on Twitter Thursday night. He ripped both Rosenthal and MLB.

Bauer’s point seemed to be that he is being targeted by Rosenthal for “clickbait.” MLB sent a memo to all 30 teams in late March informing them that there would be a crackdown on foreign substances being used by pitchers this season. According to Bauer, balls have been inspected in just about every game this season but little has been written about it.

Of course, Bauer was extremely vocal in bashing the Houston Astros over their sign-stealing scandal. He also openly wondered in 2018 if Astros pitchers were cheating, so you can understand why it would be such a big story if Bauer did something illegal.

Video: Mets walk off with wild win after batter gets HBP in strike zone

Michael Conforto hit by pitch

The New York Mets had one of the most insane walk-off wins you will ever see on Thursday afternoon, and more than a few people feel they did not deserve it.

The Mets scored the winning run against the Miami Marlins after outfielder Michael Conforto was hit on the elbow by a pitch with the bases loaded. What was really wild about the play is that the pitch was in the strike zone and was actually called a strike by the home plate umpire. Had the ball not hit Conforto’s elbow pad, he would have been called out on strikes.

You can see the video below:

There was some question about whether Conforto intentionally stuck his elbow into the strike zone. However, that was not reviewable. Officials could have reviewed whether or not the ball hit Conforto, but there was no question that it did. They could not review the play to determine if Conforto stuck his arm in the strike zone, as the strike zone itself is a judgment call by the home plate umpire.

After some discussion from the umpiring crew, the call stood and the Mets won 3-2.

Conforto told reporters after the game that he thought the pitch was a slider and lifted his elbow out of habit.

We haven’t seen a walk-off win that controversial since this insane play in the 2018 Little League World Series. You can understand why the Marlins were frustrated.

Noah Syndergaard takes hilarious shot at Pirates after Mets game blackout

Noah Syndergaard

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard is recovering from Tommy John surgery he had roughly a year ago, which means there will be times when he has to watch his teammates from the couch until he returns. Syndergaard tried to do that on Thursday, but unfortunately he ran into an issue.

Syndergaard couldn’t get the Mets home opener against the Miami Marlins on TV, as the MLB package had it blacked out in his area. He voiced his frustrations in an Instagram live video in which he said he would have to settle for watching the “sh—y Pirates.”

Here’s the video, but beware that it contains inappropriate language:

The Pirates are off to a 1-5 start, so they can’t really argue with Syndergaard. Though, the Mets are 1-2 and have not made the playoffs since 2016. Pittsburgh last reached the postseason in 2015, so both franchises have been pretty lousy.

It should be noted that Syndergaard is a known troll. Perhaps the best illustration of that was when he got into it with Trevor Bauer on Twitter earlier this year. We’re not surprised he called out the Pirates like that.

Video: Rory McIlroy hit his dad with an errant shot at the Masters

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy struggled during the first round of the Masters on Thursday, and the four-time major champion’s father felt his pain — literally.

McIlroy pulled his tee shot left on the 7th hole and ended up with a difficult angle into the green. He tried to move the ball right to left with his approach shot, but he was unsuccessful and hit a spectator in the leg. The patron was his own father.

The shot was later shown on ESPN with audio of McIlroy’s exchange with his caddie. McIlroy’s caddie asked if the ball hit Rory’s dad, and McIlroy said that it did.

McIlroy ended up making a bogey — his third in a row — on the hole. For someone who will always have his infamous Masters meltdown in the back of his mind, hitting your dad with an errant shot can’t feel like the best omen.

Andy Reid had awesome way of recruiting JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster turned down offers from several teams before he re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Kansas City Chiefs were one of those teams, and it sounds like Andy Reid really wanted the star wide receiver.

Smith-Schuster revealed on the “Michael Irvin Podcast” this week that he would have signed with the Chiefs if he chose to leave Pittsburgh. Part of the reason for that was the enthusiasm with which Reid recruited him. One of the methods Reid used was to repeatedly send Smith-Schuster photos of the Lombardi Trophy.

“I think, just seeing K.C. and bro, Andy Reid was just calling me and he was sending me Lombardi Trophy pictures like constantly,” Smith-Schuster said, via NFL.com’s Nick Shook. “We had a good talk, so it would’ve been K.C. after the Steelers.

“Like texted it to me while I was trying to make a decision and I have so much respect for him and his team.”

The Baltimore Ravens were another team that pursued Smith-Schuster, but he said he didn’t feel comfortable signing with a rival and was concerned about what his role would be in their offense.

Smith-Schuster feels like he has unfinished business with the Steelers. He turned down these better offers from other teams to remain in Pittsburgh, so he obviously enjoys playing there. The fact that he resisted Reid’s trophy photos and the allure of playing with Patrick Mahomes says a lot.

Chiefs fans, you’ll love this Andy Reid cheeseburger shirt. Reid loves his cheeseburgers, and you can wear it. This makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Video: Dustin Johnson holes awesome shot during first round of Masters

Dustin Johnson Masters shot

Dustin Johnson got off to a bit of a slow start in the opening round of the Masters on Thursday, but the defending champion still made what will likely go down as one of the best shots of the tournament.

Johnson was looking to get up-and-down for par at the tricky 11th hole to stay 1-over for his round, but he did one better. He holed an extremely difficult pitch shot for birdie. You can see the shot below:

That is about as much emotion as you’ll ever seen from Johnson, especially during the first round of a tournament. His reaction showed just how improbable the shot was. We won’t put it on the level of what Jordan Spieth did at Pebble Beach earlier this year, but it was certainly close.

Larsa Pippen, Malik Beasley reportedly split after Valentine’s Day

Larsa Pippen

Larsa Pippen and Malik Beasley seemed to have no problem going public with their relationship late last year, but that relationship did not last very long.

Pippen, the ex-wife of former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, was spotted holding hands with Beasley last November. Beasley’s wife, Montana Yao, has since filed for divorce. Pippen has indicated on a few different occasions that she and the Minnesota Timberwolves star are no longer dating, and a source has confirmed that to Us Weekly.

A person familiar with the Beasley-Pippen relationship told Us Weekly that the two “were friends first” and then became romantically involved. They spent Valentine’s Day together but have since split.

“Larsa decided to distance herself from the drama,” the source said. “(Beasley) was going through a lot and the timing wasn’t right. … Many people assumed it was serious when in fact it was not.”

It was shortly after Valentine’s Day that Pippen opened up about dating Beasley, so that may have been around the time the two parted ways.

Beasley certainly is dealing with drama in his personal life. His divorce with Yao is ongoing and recently took a somewhat surprising turn.

Deshaun Watson’s attorney trying to get alleged victims to reveal identities

Deshaun Watson

Two of the women who have filed sexual assault lawsuits against Deshaun Watson revealed their identities this week, and Watson’s attorney is hoping more will follow.

Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has been urging Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing Watson’s alleged victims, to provide their identities to Watson’s legal team. On Thursday, Hardin filed a motion seeking to force Buzbee to make that happen.

In a statement that was sent to Larry Brown Sports and other media outlets, Hardin maintained that Watson is innocent. He said Buzbee is using “anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson.”

“We have said this before and we want to say it again: Deshaun did not force, coerce or intimidate anyone to do anything against their will,” the statement read. “When we asked Mr. Buzbee to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion. (On Thursday), we filed that motion. As discussed in our filing, Mr. Buzbee’s use of anonymous lawsuits violates Texas law and the basic concept of fairness. It is clear that, for Mr. Buzbee, this case has never been about seeking justice in a courtroom, but destroying Deshaun’s reputation to enhance his own public profile and enrich himself. While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword. While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.”

You can read the full court filing here.

Watson has now been sued by 22 women who say he sexually harassed and assaulted them while they were giving him massages. Two of the alleged victims publicly revealed their identities on Tuesday. One of the women, massage therapist Ashley Solis, delivered a powerful statement in which she spoke about how Watson’s alleged misconduct has negatively impacted her career and life. You can see the video here.