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#pounditSunday, May 29, 2022

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Oakland Athletics have world’s saddest concession stand item

Wide shot of RingCentral Coliseum

Oct 1, 2020; Oakland, California, USA; The video board displays A s win! after the Oakland Athletics win against the Chicago White Sox at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Attending an Oakland Athletics game is looking more like punishment than entertainment at this point.

A photo went viral this week of a concession stand item apparently for sale at RingCentral Coliseum, the home of the A’s. An Oakland fan said that the stadium was selling a packet of hot cocoa mix and a cup of hot water for $4 … and you still have to mix it yourself.

That has to be a new low, even for the notoriously dilapidated RingCentral Coliseum. That very same packet of Nestle hot cocoa mix is selling for about 43 cents each right now on Amazon. Meanwhile, the Athletics are selling it (plus a cup of what is presumably hot tap water) for $4. Now if you want a plastic spoon to mix your hot cocoa with, that’s really going to cost you!

The 19-30 A’s, who are exploring a potential relocation to Las Vegas, are struggling with attendance in 2022, posting historically dismal numbers. With gimmicks like this being pulled on the few fans who do attend, it is hard to blame those who want to stay far away.

Tony La Russa offers strong response to Gabe Kapler’s national anthem protest

Tony La Russa looking on

Aug 22, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa (22) looks on during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa has taken issue with Gabe Kapler’s national anthem protest.

In the wake of the tragic elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, Kapler said on Friday that he will not come out for the national anthem until he feels better about the direction of the country.

While speaking to reporters Saturday prior to his team’s game against the Chicago Cubs, La Russa said that he agrees with Kapler’s concerns on gun violence. However, the 77-year-old disagrees with Kapler’s form of protest.

“I think he’s exactly right to be concerned with what’s happening in our country,” La Russa said. “He’s right there. Where I disagree is the flag and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice your objections.”

La Russa also said that he thought Kapler’s method of protest was disrespectful to servicemen and women.

“Some of their courage comes from what the flag means to them and when they hear the anthem,” La Russa said. “You need to understand what the veterans think when they hear the anthem or see the flag. And the cost they paid and their families.

“And if you truly understand that, I think it’s impossible not to salute the flag and listen to the anthem.”

La Russa is in the second season of his second stint managing the White Sox. His first go-round in Chicago was from 1979-1986. La Russa is a three-time World Series champion and Hall of Famer.

Erik Spoelstra offers extremely high praise for Kyle Lowry

Erik Spoelstra looks on

Feb 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat avoided elimination on Friday with a 111-103 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Jimmy Butler was the undisputed star of the game with a 47-point performance, but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra thought Kyle Lowry played just as big of a role in the win.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday after the game, Spoelstra raved about Lowry’s play on the court, and what he has meant to the Heat as a leader in clutch situations.

“I can’t say enough about Kyle and his veteran leadership,” Spoelstra said. “It means so much to us and you can’t put an analytic [to] what it means to your team of the feeling of calm and confidence that he can give everybody.

“He’s one of the all-time clutch players in this league.”

Spoelstra also said that Lowry excels at running the offense in important moments of a game. He even compared having Lowry on the floor in those key moments to having a “Hall of Fame quarterback.”

Lowry certainly rose to the occasion in a must-win Game 6.

After scoring a combined three points and shooting 1-of-12 from the field in Games 4 and 5, Lowry had 18 points and 10 assists in 37 minutes. He also made four 3-pointers.

Lowry had a reputation for struggling in the postseason throughout much of his career. But he has turned around that perception in recent years. In his postseason career, he’s averaged 14.8 points, 4.9 assists and 5.7 three-pointers per game.

The Heat will face even greater pressure in Game 7 on Sunday. They will need Lowry to provide a calming presence again if they are to advance to the NBA Finals.

Trae Young clowns FOX Sports host over on-air mistake

Trae Young handling the ball

Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA Today Sports

Trae Young is only 6-foot-1, but he had no problem this week dunking on a FOX Sports host.

Kevin Wildes, who is a co-host on FS1’s “First Things First,” was speaking during a segment comparing the Atlanta Hawks star Young to fellow 2018 draftee Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. Wildes correctly stated that Doncic won one game in the conference finals this year but incorrectly stated that Young got swept in the conference finals last year.

Young, whose team actually won two games against Milwaukee in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, clowned Wildes on Twitter over the goof.

“1st team ever to get swept in 6 games,” wrote Young. “kids don’t think everybody on tv know what they’re talking about.”

Young and Doncic will forever be linked after being traded for each other on draft day in 2018. The former has even lobbed some friendly trash talk at the latter in the past. But Young thinks that Wildes needs to get his facts straight first before jumping into the conversation.

Former All-Star catcher officially retires from MLB

Russell Martin throwing a baseball

Aug 17, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin (55) throws to retire Atlanta Braves right fielder Charlie Culberson (not pictured) during the sixth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Four-time All-Star catcher Russell Martin announced his retirement from baseball on Saturday.

Martin took to Instagram to post his farewell message after 14 big-league seasons. In the post, Martin wore the uniforms of the four teams he played for during his career: the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.

“After 14 years in the @mlb , I am officially retiring from professional baseball,” Martin wrote. “Timeless memories that I will cherish forever. I had the chance to play for great organizations such as the @dodgers @yankees @pittsburghpirates and @bluejays.

“I want to thank everyone that has played a part in my baseball journey. My parents , friend/agent @mlb_mattcolleran , business manager Stanley , my right hand man @ivan.naccarata , all the coaches throughout my amateur and professional career, the training staffs of every team, front office staffs, my teammates, clubhouse staffs, the fans that cheered me on and the ones that booed me, everyone who works hard to ensure fans have a great experience in and out of the stadiums, journalists, the list goes on…”

Martin also said that he plans to golf and spend more time with family in his post-playing career.

The 39-year-old Martin finished his career as one of the more underrated offensive catchers. He ranks No. 24 all-time in home runs (191), No. 20 in runs scored (803) and No. 13 in walks (792) at the position.

Martin’s best season came in 2007 with the Dodgers when he hit .293 with 19 home runs and 87 RBI in 151 games. He went on to win the only Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards of his career that year.

Martin last played in the majors in 2019 for the Dodgers. He hit .220 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 83 games.

Jacob deGrom shares encouraging update on injury comeback

Jacob deGrom ready to throw

Sep 3, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets have had a fantastic start to the 2022 season, and they’ve done it even without Jacob deGrom in their rotation. That might change fairly soon.

deGrom gave an update on his injured shoulder Saturday, saying he threw pain-free from 135 feet on Friday. While he is not yet sure when he will be back on a mound, deGrom offered an extremely positive prognosis.

Even if deGrom isn’t on the verge of a return, that’s probably the best possible update. The lack of lingering pain is encouraging, and if that remains the case, he could be back around this previously reported timeline.

The Mets are doing fine, but they could use the boost they would get from deGrom’s return. They are currently short in the rotation thanks to another significant injury.

Marlins keep hitting Ronald Acuna Jr. with pitches

Ronald Acuna jr looks on

Sep 20, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) reacts against the San Francisco Giants in the third inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Ronald Acuna Jr. has some sort of bizarre enmity with the Miami Marlins, and it manifested itself again Saturday.

Acuna has an extensive history of being hit by pitches against the Marlins on a confusingly frequent basis. On Saturday, Acuna was hit by a Sandy Alcantara pitch, marking the seventh time the Marlins have hit Acuna in 274 plate appearances. No other NL East foe has hit Acuna more than three times.

Acuna did stay in the game despite the pitch hitting him on the wrist.

In this specific instance, there is probably nothing to it. Alcantara had Acuna in a 1-2 count with two out and nobody on, and was just trying to go up and in. Still, it adds to a confusingly high tally.

The Marlins’ penchant for hitting Acuna has gotten them in trouble in the past. The stat isn’t lost on Acuna either, but he has taken a fairly relaxed approach to the frequency of his plunkings.

Heat become latest team to receive NBA bench fine

Erik Spoelstra looks on

Feb 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat won a pivotal Game 6 in Boston, but they will be a bit lighter in the pocket as a result.

The Heat became the latest victims of the increasingly-common bench decorum fine, the league announced Saturday. Miami was fined $25,000, signaling a first offense.

As with other penalties, the league stated Heat players had been guilty of standing away from the team bench and encroaching on the playing area. While the NBA isn’t going to offer specific examples of these offenses, the Dallas Mavericks have been kind enough to give us repeated examples during the playoffs.

The Heat have been fined for other reasons this season without caring too much. They probably won’t be too bothered by this one either.

Nikola Jokic reveals interesting plans for his post-basketball career

Nikola Jokic in a nuggets sweater

Apr 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is a true Renaissance man and proved that once again this week.

Jokic spoke this week with European news outlet Expressen and revealed the unique plans he has for his post-basketball career. He said that he hopes to train horses (specifically at harness racing) in his native Serbia some day.

“My dream is to move back to Serbia and become a trotting coach after my basketball career,” said Jokic, according to a rough translation.

Jokic was speaking at Elitloppet, a prestigious annual harness racing event in Stockholm, Sweden.

This is definitely on-brand for the back-to-back NBA MVP winner Jokic. He received his MVP trophy this year at a horse stable in his hometown of Sombor, Serbia, making for a funny viral video.

The 27-year-old Jokic should also have plenty of funds to make his horse training dream become a reality. He is expected to sign a truly gargantuan contract with the Nuggets in the coming months.

Jaguars GM reveals biggest change in Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence celebrates

Oct 10, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) gestures after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Like many NFL rookies, Trevor Lawrence had a somewhat underwhelming first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. General manager Trent Baalke says he’s seeing things that make him confident in a much better sophomore campaign.

Baalke revealed that Lawrence looks “more confident” and “more decisive” in his offseason work.

“He’s just more confident,” Baalke told the O-Zone Podcast. “You know, he’s carrying himself with more confidence. He’s delivering the ball quicker. He’s continuing to do that. I’ve seen that through the course of the offseason, getting the ball out of his hands, being more decisive.”

These are the sorts of natural improvements one would expect from a second-year quarterback. Even after a middling rookie campaign, there was not a ton of concern about Lawrence. A lot of his issues were simply chalked up to ex-coach Urban Meyer.

The Jaguars have a new coach who has won Lawrence’s endorsement and have sought to improve the offense around him. The steps are in place for him to progress as a second year player.