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#pounditFriday, October 23, 2020

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Kevin Kiermaier feels snubbed after not receiving Gold Glove nomination

Kevin Kiermaier

Kevin Kiermaier is regarded as one of the best defensive outfielders in Major League Baseball, but the selection process for the Gold Glove awards don’t agree.

Kiermaier was not a finalist for the award when they were announced Thursday. On Friday, he made clear that his defensive excellence is something he values — and he’s not happy that the award for it is ignoring him.

“I was very surprised,” Kiermaier said, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN. “And once that emotion left me, I was disappointed. I was upset. I feel like what I did out there, defensively, was underappreciated this year.

“I wasn’t flawless by any means, but I thought I was darn good out there, and not to be considered top three … I don’t know. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset about it.”

It’s worth noting that the Gold Glove nominees this year were determined solely by defensive metrics. Players and coaches typically have a vote, but due to the shortened schedule and lack of play against other divisions, that was eliminated for 2020.

Kiermaier is a three-time Gold Glove winner, so it’s not as if he’s lacking in hardware. It’s more about the respect level. Defense is Kiermaier’s calling card, after all.

How good is the Rays outfielder in the field? He volunteered to run some routes for Tom Brady. It would’ve been totally justified if Brady had taken him up on it.

This is why Buccaneers are signing Antonio Brown

Antonio brown

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had spent months downplaying any interest in wide receiver Antonio Brown. That changed quickly this week, and we’re getting an idea of why.

Brown has agreed to a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The wide receiver is expected to make his debut in Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints.target=”_blank”>follows reports earlier in the day suggesting an agreement was close.

Brown signing with the Bucs comes as a surprise, and not just because of how abruptly the deal came together. The door had seemed to be closed on Brown joining Tampa Bay for several reasons. First, the Buccaneers were fairly set at wide receiver, with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin operating as the primary weapons in the passing game. Perhaps more importantly, coach Bruce Arians, who coached Brown in Pittsburgh, seemed to have no interest in working with the receiver again.

So what changed? The short answer is injuries. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, that’s the key reason the team is citing behind the change of heart.

Evans is struggling with an ankle injury, while Godwin is just returning from a hamstring issue. No. 3 receiver Scotty Miller is also dealing with an injury. The reports that the Buccaneers had no interest in Brown were likely true, but injuries changed things. This is a team that wants to win a Super Bowl, and they can’t afford to leave Tom Brady without enough weapons.

There are certainly other reasons. Brady clearly enjoyed briefly playing with Brown in New England last year, and has reportedly been pushing the Buccaneers to sign the receiver. It’s pretty clear, though, that this was unlikely to happen had Evans and Godwin stayed totally healthy.

Michael Jordan does not think he could have survived Twitter era

Michael Jordan

Today’s athletes play in a very different media environment than their predecessors did. The proliferation of social media means that star athletes are under the microscope at all times in a way that even the most famous athletes of previous eras weren’t.

Michael Jordan, for one, has taken notice. And he thinks that things would have been a lot harder for him had he played in the social media era.

“Tiger [Woods] played at his peak somewhere toward the end of my career. Then, what changed from that time-frame to now is social media — Twitter and all those types of things. And that has invaded the personalities and personal time of individuals,” Jordan told Cigar Aficionado, via Alex Kennedy of Basketball News. “It’s to the point where some people have been able to utilize it to their financial gain and things of that nature.

“But for someone like myself — and this is what Tiger deals with — I don’t know if I could’ve survived in this Twitter [era], where you don’t have the privacy that you’d want and what seems to be very innocent can always be misinterpreted.”

Jordan is a notoriously private figure. In ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary, he discussed how his immense fame deprived him of privacy, and part of the reason for his retirement was to get out of the spotlight. Late in his career, he could hardly go anywhere, and was essentially holed up in his room all the time. That all happened despite living in a world without social media.

Jordan’s position is understandable. If something like this happened in today’s world, it would be all over the internet.

Rob Manfred says MLB could limit defensive shifts

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball has introduced a host of rule changes in recent years, but commissioner Rob Manfred suggested a bigger one may be yet to come.

Appearing on Friday’s edition of “The Dan Patrick Show,” Manfred said that limiting defensive shifts is a frequent topic of conversation for the league’s competition committee.

“A lot of people feel that the extreme shifting that you’re talking about has changed the game in ways that are not positive and it remains a really hot topic in terms of conversation within that committee,” Manfred said, via Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

The shift has been the subject of potential rule changes for a while. In fact, two years ago, there was some suggestion that there was momentum toward limiting them. That hasn’t happened yet, with MLB pursuing other minor rule changes, such as limiting pitching changes.

Teams have gotten very good at shifting and positioning to take away hits and limit offense. Left-handed pull hitters have been particularly vulnerable. It’s not clear what banning the shift would look like, and whether players would be limited to specific positions or simply given a range of areas they can play in. What’s clear is that the discussion is at least on the table.

Antonio Brown, Bucs working towards agreement

Antonio brown

Antonio Brown’s NFL suspension is set to end soon, and he could reunite with Tom Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown is set to visit with the Bucs on Saturday, the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson reported on Friday. Wilson said both sides are “highly motivated” to reach an agreement.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the two sides are working towards a deal, though he says the Seahawks are still in the mix.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports that Tom Brady was pushing the Bucs for the move.

Brown, 32, was one of the top receivers in the NFL from 2013-2018. He spent the first part of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers before pushing his way out last year. He got traded to the Raiders, who had enough of him and cut him. The Patriots signed him but then cut him too due to his behavior amid some serious legal issues. He was suspended this season through Week 8 as punishment from the league.

Brady was said to be upset at the time about the Patriots cutting Brown. The veteran quarterback was practicing hard with Brown and knows how good of a weapon the receiver is and wants him on his team. It’s no surprise that Brady is pushing for the signing. He even supposedly told teams in free agency that he wanted them to get Brown. And if Brown’s past behavior is any indication, he wants to team with Tom too.

Ron Rivera describes cancer fight as having 300-pound gorilla on his back

Ron Rivera

Ron Rivera on Friday offered a positive update about his cancer fight, though his battle has not been easy.

Rivera told reporters that things are said to be heading in the right direction. He has been receiving treatment for lymph node cancer ever since announcing his diagnosis in August.

But the first-year Washington Football Team head coach gave a glimpse of how difficult his struggle is. He says dealing with fatigue from the treatments is like having a 300-pound gorilla on his back. The coach usually is exhausted by 5 pm or so and needs to leave the facility. Many football coaches stay at the facility until late in the evening.

Rivera has received IV treatments during games and was visibly struggling to get through a few contests, according to reporters.

Coaching an NFL team is already an exhausting job. Coaching one while receiving cancer treatments is an even bigger beast.

Leighton Vander Esch slams anonymous critics of Cowboys’ coaches

Leighton Vander Esch

One Dallas Cowboys player is not at all happy with teammates who are offering anonymous criticism of the team’s coaching staff.

Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch did not hide his displeasure when it came to recent quotes from anonymous players about the team’s coaches. Vander Esch was particularly critical of players for refusing to put their name on the criticism.

“I think if you’re going to put it out there and not put your name on it, I think you’re an absolute coward. Simple as that. Own up to it,” Vander Esch said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.

It’s a similar thought to what other Cowboys players said, except more blunt. The Cowboys are 2-4, but somehow still in the NFC East race due to the division’s struggles. Trashing the team’s coaches is not going to improve things, and the team’s veterans know that.

Mike McCarthy is in his first year as the team’s head coach, so an adaptation process was always likely. That process doesn’t need to include quotes like this, though.

Dwayne Haskins fined for violating protocol with hotel reservation

Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins was fined by the Washington Football Team for a violation of the team’s COVID-19 protocols last week.

Haskins made a reservation for a family friend at the team’s hotel last week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The team fined him $4,833, which is about a third of the amount they could have fined him. Though Haskins made the reservation, he reportedly did not have contact with the person.

Haskins began the season as Washington’s starting quarterback but has fallen to third string behind Kyle Allen and Alex Smith. He missed about a week of practices after falling ill following his demotion, though he returned to practice late last week. The former No. 15 overall draft pick has gone 1-3 as the team’s starter this season and has four touchdowns and three interceptions.

Haskins has faced criticism about his priorities and work habits. There was even talk that he was bragging about his own stats after a Week 4 loss to Baltimore.

Amar’e Stoudemire joining Steve Nash’s staff with Nets

Amare Stoudemire

Steve Nash is embarking on his first NBA coaching journey with the Brooklyn Nets this year, and one of his most well-known former teammates will be joining him.

Nash has hired fellow former Phoenix Suns star Amar’e Stoudemire as an assistant coach, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. Like Nash, Stoudemire has no prior coaching experience in the NBA.

Stoudemire and Nash played together for the Suns from 2004-2010 during the primes of their respective careers. Both were named NBA All-Stars six times in the time they played alongside one another.

Stoudemire last played professionally in China and Israel. He also spent some time in the Big3 league. His last stint as a player in the NBA came in 2015-16 with the Miami Heat, though Stoudemire expressed interest as recently as last year in making an NBA playing comeback.

There has been talk of Nash making a much bigger splash with his coaching staff, but it’s unclear if that is still in play now that Stoudemire is joining him in Brooklyn.

Report: NBA could play MLB-style series to limit travel

Adam Silver

The NBA is fully focused on ironing out a plan and schedule for next season now that the 2019-20 season has finally come to a close. While another season in a bubble does not seem like a possibility, there could be some significant changes with the way the schedule is structured.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe report that the NBA is having discussions about beginning the 2020-21 season as early as Christmas Day. The plan could be to play fewer than 72 games and possibly not wait until fans are permitted to attend. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA could also move to an MLB-style schedule where teams play mini-series against one another to limit travel.

While the bubble in Walt Disney World was ultimately a success, there are numerous reasons the NBA would prefer to avoid doing it again. Money is the most obvious reason.

There was originally some talk that the NBA could wait until fans are cleared to attend games, but no one knows when that will be. As Wojnarowski notes, approximately two thirds of the league’s teams would not be permitted to have fans at the moment due to local regulations. If the NBA waits until those restrictions are lifted, revenue would suffer.

The NBA previously informed teams that the season will not start before Christmas Day. That may be a realistic target date.