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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Jake Odorizzi says he was ‘pitching in a rainforest’

Jake Odorizzi

The major heat wave that has plagued much of the country during the week hasn’t been fun for many, and that includes MLB pitchers.

Minnesota Twins starter Jake Odorizzi took the mound in 94 degree temperatures with humidity, and gave up two runs in the first inning as the Twins ultimately lost 5-3 at home to the Oakland Athletics. Odorizzi made clear that he felt the conditions had a lot to do with his early struggles, saying it was like “pitching in a rainforest.”

Typically when you think of weather issues impacting baseball games, it’s rain-related. Humidity can be a big issue for pitchers who rely on gripping the ball to get the job done, though, and that was the case here.

Urban Meyer’s daughter shades Jim Harbaugh over comments

Nicki Meyer dad Urban

Urban Meyer’s daughter, Nicki, stood up for her father with some shade thrown at Jim Harbaugh on Twitter.

Harbaugh made a few headlines with some comments about Meyer on Tim Kawakami’s podcast this week. The Michigan Wolverines coach said Meyer has a great record but also is involved in controversies.

“Urban Meyer’s had a winning record. Really phenomenal record everywhere he’s been,” Harbaugh said. “But also, controversy follows everywhere he’s been.”

Harbaugh’s comments are factual, but some don’t like the source of the remarks and feel like it’s Harbaugh’s way of taking away from his 0-4 record as a head coach against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Nicki certainly thinks so.

She called Harbaugh’s remarks “a deflection strategy.”

The Meyer girls are always quick to come to Urban’s defense over social media, as we’ve seen many times in the past. Nicki’s not alone here as many other Buckeyes fans defended Meyer in response to Harbaugh.

Mike Leake loses perfect game in 9th on Luis Rengifo single

Seattle Mariners logo

Mike Leake lost a perfect game bid in the ninth inning of Friday night’s contest between his Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels.

A week after being knocked out of the game in the first inning by the Angels, Leake bounced back with a stellar start. He dominated the Angels through eight innings before allowing a leadoff single to Luis Rengifo on a 1-1 pitch in the top of the ninth.

The hit cost Leake both his perfect game and no-hitter. He also walked the next batter, Kevan Smith. But Leake got two more easy outs and then struck out Mike Trout to end the game, giving him a spectacular one-hit shutout with six strikeouts.

Leake did it all on 98 pitches, 66 for strikes. He showed excellent movement on his pitches, keeping the Angels off-balance most of the evening. Prior to the ninth, he hadn’t thrown more than 12 pitches in a single inning.

The 10-0 victory was nice revenge for Seattle, which got stomped by the Angels 13-0 exactly a week prior. Not only was Leake knocked out of that start in the first, but the Mariners were no-hit. They nearly returned the favor both on offense and defense.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes good on his best player in MLS declaration with hat trick

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made good on his declaration that he is the best player in MLS.

Ahead of Friday night’s “El Trafico” between Los Angeles rivals Galaxy and LAFC, Ibrahimovic told ESPN’s “Ahora o Nunca” that he is better than LAFC star Carlos Vela, who leads the league in goals.

“By far, because if he’s in his prime. How old is he? Twenty-nine,” said Ibrahimovic. “And he’s playing in MLS and he’s in his prime. When I was 29 [I was in Europe]. Big difference.”

Ibrahimovic doubled down before the game, saying he was the best player in MLS. The Swedish player lived up his declaration by scoring a beautiful goal to tie the match in the eighth minute:

Then he scored again to break the tie:

And for good measure, the Galaxy star completed the hat trick in the 70th minute:

Vela did score both of LAFC’s goals, giving him a league-best 21 goals on the season.

Madison Bumgarner still bothered about being pulled before 10th inning

Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner is such an intense competitor that he was still upset a day later about being pulled from a game earlier than he wanted.

The San Francisco Giants topped the New York Mets 3-2 in 16 innings on Thursday night. Bumgarner started and pitched nine innings for the Giants, allowing one run on five hits and a walk while striking out six. He had only thrown 94 pitches and wanted to pitch the 10th inning but manager Bruce Bochy wouldn’t allow it.

Both men said after the game that was the case.

Bochy related to the media before Friday’s game that Bumgarner stopped by his office a day later about it.

Bumgarner has an old school competitive attitude and edge to him, which is part of why he’s gotten into it with some young players. That competitiveness is also part of what drives him to greatness.

Another trait of Bumgarner is his loyalty, which is why he has no interest in being traded.

Tom Brady makes another Instagram reference to Max Kellerman’s jab

One thing we have learned about Tom Brady is that he holds on to criticism as tightly as possible to use it for motivation. Take for instance the jab Max Kellerman offered at the New England Patriots quarterback’s expense.

Back in 2016, Kellerman declared that Brady was going to “fall off a cliff” as a quarterback due to his age. Three years later, Brady has played in three more Super Bowls and won two of them. The Patriots quarterback referenced the quote on Instagram last month. He did it again on Friday.

Brady posted a video on Instagram that showed him jumping off a waterfall with daughter Vivian while the family is on vacation in Costa Rica:

One comment he wrote on the post was that he “didn’t want to be the first Brady to fall off a cliff,” which is why he had Vivian jump with him.

Brady does not have too many detractors anymore, so he really has to hold on to whatever little piece of criticism he can. The Kellerman comment obviously has stood out … and he’s able to get plenty of use out of it now.

Report: ESPN made clear to Dan Le Batard politics talk is not OK

Dan Le Batard

Dan Le Batard’s comments on his radio show Thursday admonishing Donald Trump for his “send her back” attacks and criticizing ESPN’s no-politics policy will not open the network up to more political commentary.

Le Batard was absent from the first hour of his show Friday. There was speculation that he missed the hour to talk with ESPN leadership before returning for the rest of the show.

In an article on Front Office Sports, Michael McCarthy wrote that if ESPN were to get rid of Le Batard, DAZN, which is headed by former ESPN president John Skipper, would be eager to hire the host. McCarthy also reported that ESPN made it clear to everyone internally, including Le Batard, that their no-politics policy has not changed.

From McCarthy’s article:

ESPN declined to comment on whether Le Batard would be suspended for calling his own network “cowardly” for banning political discussion. But one ESPN source said: “We are making it very clear to everyone internally, including Dan, that our policy hasn’t changed.”

Le Batard openly challenging the policy creates a problem for ESPN. New president Jimmy Pitaro made the new approach to politics a priority when he took over. He cited research that shows their audience does not want political talk. Not disciplining Le Batard could make it seem to some like ESPN is inconsistent given the suspension handed to Jemele Hill for Trump criticism in 2017, though that came under a previous leadership regime. No discipline could also be viewed by critics as ESPN taking a political stance and supporting Le Batard’s comments, further confirming their belief that the network has a liberal political lean.

Le Batard could — and seemingly is arguing — that he is commenting on racism, not politics, but that creates a question about where one draws the line between acceptable topics and not. What if another host wants to comment on feeling threatened by progressive politics? That is why ESPN is trying to emphasize its no-politics stance.

Wizards make Tommy Sheppard full-time GM

Washington Wizards logo

The Washington Wizards have officially filled their general manager position.

The Wizards on Friday removed the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard’s title and made him their full-time GM, both the Washington Post and The Athletic reported.

Sheppard had been serving as the team’s interim president ever since Ernie Grunfeld was fired on April 2. Sheppard helped lead the team through the draft and free agency.

The Wizards are in a difficult spot. Franchise player John Wall is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that was suffered while he was recovering from heel surgery. He will be making $170 million over the next four seasons and eating up a big chunk of the salary cap. The team so far has declined to trade Bradley Beal, who is due nearly $56 million over the next two seasons. The team reportedly plans to offer him a contract extension next week.

Lottery pick Rui Hachimura is one of the few players the team added this summer that could excite the franchise’s fans.

Kevin Durant reportedly chose Nets because he liked direction of the franchise

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant chose to join Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets, and the two are bringing DeAndre Jordan with them. Durant is leaving behind the Golden State Warriors, with whom he won two championships but lost in the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors this year.

So why did Durant choose the Nets of all teams? He and Irving supposedly had been talking for a while about teaming up. Durant reportedly wanted to play in New York, but according to Kendrick Perkins, the appeal of the Nets to Durant was the franchise’s direction.

Perkins, a former teammate of Durant on the Oklahoma City Thunder, talked with KNBR’s “Murph & Mac Show” Friday about Durant’s move.

“I think people had speculation that the Knicks were actually the front runners, but they weren’t. In my opinion it was either Brooklyn or going back to Golden State. I asked Kevin what was the reason behind him ultimately choosing Brooklyn and he told me ‘Perk, you’re not stupid, you know why I chose Brooklyn man. Look at the organization and look at the direction they’re going in.’ I think this was probably in the works for at least a couple months now. At least with him and Kyrie and DeAndre Jordan.”

The Nets have impressively turned around their franchise. They went from having no real players and draft assets to adding several key pieces through strategic moves the last few years.

They used their available cap space to acquire D’Angelo Russell in a trade with the Lakers. He just made his first All-Star team. They drafted Caris LeVert (via Indiana) in the first round. Jarrett Allen was a first-round pick of theirs in 2017. Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie were other key acquisitions who have developed nicely. Compared to the Knicks, they are moving in the right direction and have their business in order, which makes their appeal understandable.

Watch: Shaq gets down at Tomorrowland music festival

Shaq Tomorrowland

There was an unmistakable 7-foot-1 giant in the crowd at the Tomorrowland music festival in Belgium on Friday.

Former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal was seen getting down among the fans at the electronic dance music festival. He was head banging in the front row during Kill the Noise’s set.

A bunch of people later were seen circled around him:

Shaq actually spins records under the name “DJ Diesel” and had tweeted that he would have a live set at Tomorrowland that day.

He’s fun, enthusiastic, and likes his EDM. This is just another reason why people love Shaq. Next we just need to see him make good on the Steve Kerr bet.