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#pounditSunday, June 26, 2022

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Yankees manager Aaron Boone reacts to Aaron Judge news

Aaron Boone smiling

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA Today Sports

Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees settled on a contract Friday for the 2022 season, and it’s safe to say that manager Aaron Boone is relieved.

Judge will reportedly receive $19 million from the Yankees, with the potential for bonuses of $250,000 if he is named American League MVP and wins World Series MVP.

With the settlement, Judge and the Yankees avoided their arbitration hearing that was scheduled for Friday. Boone spoke to reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Houston Astros about his reaction to hearing the news.

“Getting that news today, I was excited about it,” Boone said. “Excited that that’s behind us and [to] leave that portion of the show alone.”

Judge is in his final season under team control before becoming a free agent. He was set to go to arbitration on Friday to determine his 2022 salary after he and the Yankees could not reach an agreement prior to the season. Judge sought $21 million for 2022, while the Yankees countered at $17 million. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Judge initially did not want to settle at $19 million and instead sought to win his arbitration case to receive the $21 million. He finally changed his mind.

Arbitration cases are typically settled during the offseason, but some hearings have been delayed into the season due to the lockout over the offseason. Judge has been paid a prorated amount this season based off the Yankees’ $17 million figure submitted in arbitration, according to Olney.

The $19 million that the Yankees will pay Judge for this season is a bargain based on his performance so far. The 30-year-old is playing like an AL MVP candidate, entering Friday hitting .304 with 27 home runs, 53 RBI and a 1.037 OPS. He’s also scored 58 runs, which leads all of MLB.

While Judge and the Yankees were reportedly far apart on a potential contract extension earlier this season, perhaps both sides’ willingness to settle before Friday’s hearing is a good sign that they’ll be able to work out a long-term deal at some point.

Hall of Famer has bold prediction after Arch Manning commitment

Edgerrin James posing for a picture

Feb 10, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Edgerrin James appears on the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors awards presentation at YouTube Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arch Manning announced his commitment Thursday to play at the University of Texas, and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James believes that both Manning and James’ son, Eden, will play together in the NFL.

Eden James, a three-star recruit according to 247 Sports, committed to Howard University last fall. The elder James told TMZ Sports in an article published Friday that his son and Manning have the potential to be the next great Manning-James duo.

“I’m calling it right now,” Edgerrin James said. “They’re both going to be in the NFL together. The next wave — 2.0!

“When I saw Arch Manning coming out in 2023, I have my son that’s at Howard, so I said it’s going to be a reconnection in the future,” Edgerrin James said. “You’re going to see my son — you’re going to see James-Manning connection.”

Manning is the No. 1 overall prospect for the 2023 class. According to 247 Sports, Eden James was believed to be the highest-ranked player in modern history to sign with Howard.

Version 1.0 of the Manning-James connection worked out pretty well while the two played for the Indianapolis Colts from 1999-2005. Edgerrin James made four Pro Bowls over that span, and ran the ball 2,188 times for 9,226 yards and 64 touchdowns. Peyton Manning threw for 33,189 yards and 244 touchdowns, and won back-to-back NFL MVPs in 2003 and 2004. The Colts made the playoffs six of their seven seasons together.

Eden James and Arch Manning would likely be in the NFL by 2025 or 2026. But Peyton Manning, Arch’s uncle, has some more reasonable expectations for the future Longhorn.

H/T USA TODAY

Russell Westbrook blasts Skip Bayless in tweet over ‘Westbrick’ name

Russell Westbrook warms up

Oct 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook prior to the preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook is finally taking matters into his own hands.

The Los Angeles Lakers star called out FOX Sports personality Skip Bayless in a tweet on Friday. After the Lakers selected ex-MSU guard Max Christie in the second round of the draft, Bayless said that Christie, who was just a 32 percent three-point shooter last year, would fit perfectly with LeBron James and “Westbrick.”

Westbrook fired back at Bayless, saying, “Yoooo… watch your mouth. Don’t say anything here you wouldn’t say to my face.”

This was brewing for a long time between Westbrook and Bayless, who often mockingly refers to the former MVP as “Westbrick” because of Westbrook’s tendency to miss (or “brick”) shots. Bayless had previously been called out by Westbrook’s wife Nina over the nickname, leading to another war of words online.

We know by now that the one thing Westbrook despises is being called “Westbrick.” He explained during the season why he finds it so insulting and once even went so far as to confront a rival fan who called him “Westbrick.”

Video: Orlando Magic player got tricked into thinking he had been traded

Terrence Ross holding a basketball

Feb 14, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross (31) reacts on the court against the Phoenix Suns in the second half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

You always have to keep your head on a swivel during the NBA offseason, as Terrence Ross can certainly attest to.

The Orlando Magic swingman was streaming himself live on Twitch during the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday when a user left him an official-sounding comment that read, “Orlando has traded Forward Terrence Ross to The Clippers for Luke Kennard, sources tell ESPN.” Ross had a dumbfounded expression on his face for a couple of seconds, and he admitted that “my heart dropped.” Take a look.

In reality, there was no such trade. Ross eventually figured out as well that his agent would have called to let him know if he had actually been dealt.

Ross, who, at 31, is a senior citizen on a very young Magic team, figures to be a trade candidate this summer, especially since he is on an expiring contract. That may explain why the Twitch comment was so believable. At least Ross figured out he was being had quicker than these NBA figures recently did.

Report: Deandre Ayton pursuit growing unlikely for 1 interested team

Deandre Ayton looks ahead

Jan 3, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) against the New York Knicks at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Deandre Ayton’s future may still lie away from the Phoenix Suns, but one team heavily linked to him may be changing course.

The Detroit Pistons are increasingly unlikely to pursue Ayton as a restricted free agent, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The Pistons have less of a need for Ayton after their draft night action that saw them land guard Jaden Ivey and center Jalen Duren, and would prefer to use their remaining cap space on multiple veterans to surround the team’s new young core.

If the Pistons are out on Ayton, it becomes less clear where he might end up. One other team had been linked to the Phoenix center, but the Pistons seemed to be the organization that wanted him most.

Ayton is set to become a restricted free agent, and he and the Suns certainly seem headed for a divorce one way or another. Right now, it’s simply unclear how that could happen.

Video: Pablo Sandoval totally destroys catcher in Mexican League

Pablo Sandoval collision

Pablo Sandoval’s Major League Baseball career is probably over, but the San Francisco Giants icon is still plugging away in the Mexican Baseball League. Fortunately, that is still enough to provide some great highlights.

Sandoval plays for Olmecas de Tabasco, and was in action Thursday against Saraperos de Saltillo. With the game tied in the 7th, Sandoval attempted to score on a base hit, but the throw to the plate beat him by quite a bit. Sandoval resorted to a tactic he couldn’t do anymore in MLB — he absolutely destroyed catcher Hans Wilson to try and dislodge the baseball.

No, the tactic did not work. Sandoval was out, though Wilson had to leave the game as a result of the collision. Sandoval and Olmecas wound up winning the game 7-6.

Sandoval has always been a very big guy, so there is no way that was a pleasant collision to be on the end of. There’s a reason MLB banned these sorts of collisions, after all.

Sandoval is actually doing pretty well in the Mexican League. The former All-Star is hitting .281 with a .365 OBP and seven home runs.

Pacers rookie has surprising challenge for LeBron James

LeBron James looking on

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of NBA rookies are open about their admiration for LeBron James. Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin is taking a very different approach.

Mathurin, the sixth overall pick in Thursday’s draft, made clear that he’s looking forward to testing himself against James. In fact, prior to the draft, Mathurin even said in an interview he needs to see James prove himself.

“A lot of people say he’s great,” Mathurin said, via Ben Golliver of the Washington Post. “I want to see how great he is. I don’t think anybody is better than me. He’s going to have to show me he’s better than me.”

Mathurin does not seem to mean any disrespect here, for whatever it’s worth. If anything, the comment is similar to one an NFL rookie made about Tom Brady a year and a half ago.

It’s easy to laugh this off and dismiss it as cockiness, but James himself would probably admire the ambition and determination. Mathurin will almost certainly get a rude wake-up call about how good James is, but that self-belief should serve the Pacers rookie well over his career.

Guardians star Jose Ramirez goes viral for his ridiculous shirt

Jose Ramirez in helmet and uniform

Sep 24, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Ramirez’s new shirt is sure to send more than a few heads spinning.

The Cleveland Guardians star went viral on Friday for the shirt that he was photographed in prior to a game against the Boston Red Sox. Ramirez was wearing a shirt of himself … wearing a shirt of himself. Take a look.

For those keeping score at home, that is two Ramirez faces on the shirt and three Ramirez faces in the picture (counting, of course, his actual face). The ridiculously meta shirt is part of a “#VoteGuards” campaign encouraging fans to vote Guardians players into next month’s MLB All-Star Game.

The three-time All-Star and AL MVP candidate Ramirez probably wants to make sure that everybody knows exactly what his face looks like. After all, some people have gotten it wrong before.

Micah Parsons has big sack goal for 2022

Micah Parsons looking down

Nov 7, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) before the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons had a huge debut season in 2021. He is eyeing an even more prolific encore in 2022.

In a new interview with Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, Parsons said 15 sacks is his “minimum” target for 2022. His real goal is to break the single-season sack record.

“Yeah, 15’s like the minimum. 15’s what I wanna hit. But definitely 23 is that goal, to break the record,” Parsons said.

Michael Strahan remains the single-season record-holder with 22.5 sacks. TJ Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers nearly broke the record last season, but fell just short on the final day of the season.

Parsons collected 13 sacks as a rookie, so he’s justified in aiming high. If anything, he’s actually added to the total he was eyeing earlier in the offseason.

List of betting favorites for Kevin Durant’s next team emerges

Kevin Durant dribbles

Oct 11, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant may be pushing us to the brink of total NBA anarchy, and oddsmakers are here for the chaos.

Online sportsbook SportsBetting.ag released odds this week for the former MVP Durant’s next team if he decides to pursue a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. The Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, and Atlanta Hawks are listed as the three betting favorites. Two of Durant’s former teams (the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors) are also included in the top ten.

Here is the full list:

Miami Heat +250
Memphis Grizzlies +400
Atlanta Hawks +450
Phoenix Suns +500
Los Angeles Clippers +550
New York Knicks +600
Portland Trail Blazers +750
Oklahoma City Thunder +800
Los Angeles Lakers +1200
Golden State Warriors +1400

In addition to Miami’s picturesque location and status as a top contender in the East, Durant has played with Heat stars Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry on Team USA’s Olympic gold medal teams. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, are a rapidly rising team of youngsters who have Durant’s ex-Thunder teammate Steven Adams on the roster and Taylor Jenkins (who, like Durant, has ties to the state of Texas) as their head coach. The Hawks are also an exciting, young squad led by coach Nate McMillan, a franchise great of the team that drafted Durant, the Seattle SuperSonics.

It is still unknown if Durant, who is under contract for the next four seasons and owed nearly $200 million, actually wants out of Brooklyn. But it looks like a definite possibility right now, and opposing teams will be ready to bombard the phone lines for Durant if he does request a move.