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#pounditFriday, June 9, 2023


Struggling Mets hit with big Pete Alonso injury blow

Pete Alonso swinging a bat

Apr 16, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets designated hitter Pete Alonso (20) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Things are going from bad to worse for the New York Mets after a brutal series in Atlanta.

The Mets announced Friday that first baseman Pete Alonso suffered a bone bruise and sprain on his left wrist after being hit by a pitch during Wednesday’s game against the Braves. The Mets expect that Alonso may miss as much as a month, and will be placed on the IL.

It is difficult to overstate how big a blow this is to a Mets team that is already struggling. Alonso has been the team’s best hitter, with 22 home runs in 62 games. The team simply cannot replace that sort of production at a time when they are fresh off a series sweep at the hands of the Braves, who are now a full 8.5 games ahead of the Mets in the NL East race.

Alonso also brought some attitude to the Mets, as he briefly sparked controversy in the Braves series before what was a clearly unintentional hit-by-pitch on Wednesday. Regardless of intent, it will cost Alonso significant time.

Red Sox provide concerning Chris Sale injury update

Chris Sale pitching

Oct 8, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in game two of the 2021 ALDS at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox have not had much luck with injuries this season, and things appear to be going from bad to worse for them.

Ace left-hander Chris Sale will be re-evaluated in 3-to-4 weeks after suffering a stress reaction in his shoulder blade, the team announced Friday. Surgery has not been deemed necessary, but Sale will require significant rest and rehab.

The timeline keeps Sale out until mid-July at the earliest. There is not necessarily any reason to believe that the lefty will be ready to return immediately after being re-evaluated, either.

The 34-year-old left his start on June 1 with arm soreness after just 3.2 innings. He simply has not been able to stay healthy since about 2018, and made just 11 starts over the 2021 and 2022 seasons combined. He had managed 11 starts so far in 2023, but his numbers were fairly pedestrian as he posted a 4.58 ERA in 59 innings. Admittedly, those numbers were somewhat inflated by some frustratingly poor outings at the beginning of the season.

DeAndre Hopkins responds to doubters via social media

DeAndre Hopkins without a helmet

Oct 24, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) against the Houston Texans at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

DeAndre Hopkins has heard all of the questions this offseason about whether he is still capable ofp playing at an elite level, and the star wide receiver is clearly using the doubt as fuel.

Hopkins took to Twitter on Friday to share some stats that he feels show he was still at the top of his game last season. The 30-year-old sarcastically said that he is “old and can’t get open.”

Hopkins then retweeted a video that showed him making several big plays in 2022.

One of the reports Hopkins likely took note of was a recent one from Albert Breer of The MMQB. Breer spoke with several executives about Hopkins, and one of the execs offered a harsh assessment of the five-time Pro Bowl receiver.

Hopkins had 64 catches for 717 yards and 3 touchdowns in 9 games last season. He served a 6-game suspension to start the year for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Even if he has lost a step, the team that signs him should be getting a highly motivated player with a tremendous track record.

Ravens making big change to offense to benefit Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson on the sideline

Aug 11, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) walks on the sidelines during the first half Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Expect the Baltimore Ravens’ offense to look a lot different this season, and not just because of a new offensive coordinator. The team appears ready to give quarterback Lamar Jackson a lot more freedom when it comes to running things.

The Ravens plan to give Jackson much more freedom at the line of scrimmage to make adjustments and call plays under offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken will still call plays, but is prepared to give Jackson much more room for changes.

“There are times where Coach ‘Monk’ says, ‘I’m the coordinator. I call the plays. You like [the play]? Keep it,'” Ravens quarterbacks coach Tee Martin said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “When you change that play, you become the coordinator. And we want it to work.

“He’s doing a good job and getting us in the right plays and operating the offense.”

Jackson said he is “loving” the changes Monken is making to the offense.

“Coach [Monken] is basically just giving us the keys to the offense, really,” Jackson said. “I’m loving it.”

This appears to be the latest chapter in the evolution of the Baltimore offense. Jackson had suggested earlier in the offseason that there will be a lot more passing this year, too. Whether this helps or hurts Jackson remains to be seen, but the quarterback is obviously enthusiastic over the changes.

Could James Harden reunite with Kevin Durant on Suns?

James Harden dribbles

Feb 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) brings the ball up court against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns have some work to do this offseason in the wake of their disappointing playoff exit, and some have speculated that they could try to orchestrate a second reunion between Kevin Durant and James Harden.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports wrote on Friday that talk has “quietly circulated around some league personnel since the NBA Draft” that Harden could wind up in Phoenix. One way to make that happen would be via a sign-and-trade between the Suns and Philadelphia 76ers that also involved Chris Paul, whom the Suns are planning to waive.

Harden has a $35 million player option on his contract for the 2023-24 season. If he wanted to help facilitate a trade, he could exercise the option and then sign an extension after being sent to Phoenix. The Suns would likely have to offer more in the deal than Paul.

Durant and Harden played together on the Oklahoma City Thunder and then Brooklyn Nets. It seemed like their relationship in Brooklyn deteriorated before Harden was traded to the Sixers. Despite that, this is not the first we have heard about the potential for a second reunion between the two stars.

A more recent report claimed Harden is torn between the 76ers and one other team. His decision may ultimately come down to which team is willing to pay him the most as he quickly approaches his 34th birthday.

Troubling report about John Calipari, Kentucky basketball emerges

John Calipari at a press conference

Mar 28, 2019; Kansas City, MO, United States; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari speaks during a press conference for the midwest regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats appear to be in a strange state of flux right now, with a roster that still needs work and an unusually quiet offseason in the transfer portal. This has boosters worried, and a new report about coach John Calipari’s program is unlikely to make them feel much better.

Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio shared some worrying information on his show Thursday, describing the Kentucky program as one “in disarray” and falling behind rivals due to Calipari isolating himself atop the program.

“Players come and go; that worries me less than the other stuff. And again, if people don’t want to believe this, they don’t have to but this is the truth: Calipari has no connection with the main boosters of this program, specifically the main couple and it’s killing us. It just is,” Jones said, via Adam Haste of A Sea Of Blue. “The people around the program can’t talk to him; they don’t know what to say to him. And he is completely isolated from everybody.

“The program has been in disarray. I have people — and this has happened three times in the last four days — people who genuinely like and care about Kentucky basketball but also genuinely like and care about Cal say to me, ‘Matt, what is going on?’ And the tough part is I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that.”

One would think Calipari would be very good at navigating the NIL landscape, but he appears to be disconnected from it all at this point. That may be a big reason for Kentucky’s lack of success in the transfer portal, as one Wildcat target cited NIL rights as a big reason for his ultimate decision.

The concerns are significant enough that the athletic director has had to defend Calipari’s efforts. With the roster looking iffy and little postseason success in recent years, it is no wonder people are very worried.

Kentucky is coming off a 22-12 season. They haven’t made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons and last made the Final Four in 2015. Meanwhile, Calipari effectively has a lifetime deal paying him over $8 million per season.

ESPN analyst shares Suns’ plans for Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton during a game

Apr 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) against the New Orleans Pelicans during game two of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson shared this week what he thinks the Phoenix Suns’ plans are for Deandre Ayton.

The Suns reportedly informed Chris Paul this week that they plan to waive him. The team also reportedly is considering trading Ayton.

Jefferson believes Ayton is as good as gone.

“Everything that I’ve heard and see, Deandre Ayton’s gone,” Jefferson said on ESPN.

Jefferson believes that trading Ayton would allow the Suns to add depth and ease their top-heavy issue. The Suns traded away important supporting players (Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson) to acquire Kevin Durant in February, leaving them somewhat thin.

Trade rumors have surrounded the former No. 1 overall draft pick for a few years, but he has remained with the team. It seems more and more like Ayton could finally be traded. He responded to the trade rumors last month by saying he wants to remain in Phoenix.

Ayton averaged 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game this season. The 24-year-old center is owed nearly $100 million over the next three seasons.

Deion Sanders fires back at Pat Narduzzi over criticism

Deion Sanders in a cowboy hat

Apr 22, 2023; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders during the first half of the spring game at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado coach Deion Sanders is not backing down amid criticism from some other coaches over his roster-building methods.

Sanders responded after Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi questioned whether Sanders’ roster overhaul was “good for college football.” The Colorado coach was not concerned, saying he has no idea who Narduzzi is and suggesting that the Pitt coach is still smarting over wide receiver Jordan Addison’s transfer to USC a year ago.

“What was his situation when he came to Pitt? He had a different situation than me,” Sanders told Carl Reed of 247 Sports. “He is not mad at me, he is mad at the situation in football now that allowed his best player to leave a year ago. He’s not mad at me, he’s using me to shoot bullets at another coach who he has an issue with. I don’t know who he is; if he walked in here right now I wouldn’t know him.”

Narduzzi was hugely critical of Sanders’ moves to essentially clear out Colorado’s roster and bring in high-profile transfers to replace the outgoing players. He was also very unhappy with Addison’s transfer and suspected USC of tampering, which is what Sanders is alluding to in his response.

Like it or not, Sanders’ methods are legal and probably the quickest way he can go about building a contender at Colorado. Narduzzi has every right to disapprove of them, but Sanders has the right to shrug off those complaints, too.

Tyreek Hill issues challenge to Lionel Messi

Tyreek Hill runs with the ball

Sep 29, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Tyreek Hill wants to set up a real football vs. football battle in Miami.

The Miami Dolphins receiver Hill issued a challenge this week to the soccer megastar Messi, who just agreed to a seismic deal to sign with Inter Miami of Major League Soccer (MLS). In a video post welcoming Messi to South Beach, Hill indicated that he was trying to race the Argentinian forward.

“Now we got two No. 10s [in Miami],” said Hill, referencing their respective jersey numbers. “But I just wanna know which one is the fastest.”

That may not exactly be a fair race. Hill, 29, is one of the fastest players in sports and is always using his speed to blow by defenders on routes or in the open field. Messi, meanwhile, has always been about ingenuity and technical ability over pure speed in dribbling past opponents (though his acceleration measures up among the best). He most certainly is not about pure speed right now at 35 years old (turning 36 later this month).

For Hill, who is entering his second season with the Dolphins, he might be better off racing someone closer in age and skillset to him (like this fellow NFLer who once stunningly beat Hill in a foot race).

Mike McDaniel makes admission about infamous video

Mike McDaniel vapes on the sideline

Mike McDaniel has finally answered one of the biggest questions from the 2022 season. Yes, the Miami Dolphins coach was hitting a vape on the sidelines during the playoffs.

McDaniel was a guest on the latest episode of the “Pardon My Take” podcast. During the appearance, he was asked about the video that went viral that many speculated showed McDaniel using a vape on the sideline when the Dolphins played the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs. You can see the clip below:

McDaniel played coy, but he eventually came clean. The 40-year-old coach initially pretended to not know what vaping was. He then admitted he has vaped “in past lives” and said he quit after it became a story.

“Regardless, just the idea of that being something that people are talking about after a playoff game is annoying enough to provoke me to never do it again,” McDaniel said. “And I’ve since quit, classic McDaniel style — cold turkey, just like alcohol.”

In other words, McDaniel did try to sneak in a rip of his vape during that January game. He was quickly reminded that the internet catches everything. One rival team even took a shot at McDaniel over the vape video this offseason, so that may have also influenced him to give it up.