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Sunday, January 20, 2019

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Evan Longoria rips teams for not spending big on free agents again

Evan Longoria

For the second consecutive year, MLB teams seem to be taking somewhat of a stand against shelling out massive contracts for the game’s biggest stars. Evan Longoria is the latest to speak out about the approach teams have been using in free agency.

With Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and other star players seemingly not all those close to signing deals, Longoria took to Instagram on Friday to blast the way teams have used analytical tools to “devalue players.” He included photos of Machado, Harper, Dallas Keuechel and Craig Kimbrel.

“We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame,” Longoria wrote. “It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.”

There have been reports that Harper has been offered somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million, so you can’t really criticize teams for not giving him the $350 million he is seeking. Still, it seems like there are not many legitimate suitors for the game’s top free agents, as teams are opting to trim payroll and remain below the luxury tax. Machado’s market could be evidence of that, as he has reportedly not been offered anything close to the money he is seeking.

The MLB Players Association unloaded on teams last year for their refusal to spend money, but it does not seem like a whole lot has changed. You can understand why players like Longoria are concerned about the trend.

Report: Reds making progress in Sonny Gray trade talks

Sonny Gray

The Cincinnati Reds look to be the strongest suitor for New York Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Reds are “making progress” in discussions to acquire Gray from the Yankees.

Gray trade talks had quieted down a bit before a recent resurgence, with the Reds most prominently linked. A lot of teams have been involved in the discussions, but Cincinnati looks to be the frontrunners. It makes sense, as they’ve been linked to a lot of starting pitchers this offseason.

Once touted as a future star for the Oakland Athletics, a move to New York never really agreed with Gray. He’s coming off a season that saw him post a 4.90 ERA and lose his spot in the rotation, so he’ll be hoping that any trade helps revitalize a once-promising career.

Dez Bryant sends cryptic response to Cowboys firing OC

Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys announced on Friday that they are parting ways with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, and it does not appear that Dez Bryant is going to shed any tears for his former coach.

Not long after the Cowboys released a statement confirming they have fired Linehan, Bryant sent the following tweet:

The timing is not a coincidence. That is basically Dez’s way of saying “I told you so,” and it is hardly a surprise that he feels that way.

Bryant had his best seasons with the Cowboys from 2012-2014. Tony Romo was the quarterback during those years, and Linehan was not named offensive coordinator until 2015. Bryant’s production steadily declined after Dak Prescott took over as quarterback and Linehan starting calling plays.

Toward the end of his final season in Dallas, Bryant made it clear that he was unhappy with the offensive scheme the team had been running. Whether he’s right or wrong, Dez likely feels that Linehan is partially responsible for his career taking the turn that it did.

Cowboys fire offensive coordinator Scott Linehan

Jerry Jones

The Dallas Cowboys have gotten inconsistent production from their offense over the past two seasons, and they are finally making a major change to their coaching staff in hopes of addressing that.

On Friday, the Cowboys announced in a statement from head coach Jason Garrett that they are parting ways with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

Linehan had been the OC in Dallas for the past five seasons, and the future looked extremely bright with him calling plays when Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were rookies. However, the Cowboys’ offense has seemingly become more one-dimensional over the past two seasons. The acquisition of Amari Cooper seemed to help by giving them the true No. 1 receiver they had been lacking since Dez Bryant left, but there were still plenty of inconsistencies.

The Cowboys finished 22nd in the NFL this season in total offense, though those numbers were a bit skewed by their slow start. There were also indications that their problems were even more significant on defense in the postseason, but it is not a shock that Linehan is getting the axe.

Manny Machado’s father claims these four teams have made offers to slugger

Manny Machado

There has been a lot of information leaking out in recent days about Manny Machado and the offers he has or hasn’t received, and it should come as no surprise that the slugger’s father says numerous teams are trying to sign his son.

In an interview with Dominican reporter Hector Gomez on Friday, Machado’s father Manuel said Manny has outstanding offers from four different teams, and at least one of them will surprise you.

Manuel added that where Manny ends up could surprise people.

Several reports have claimed the White Sox made Machado an offer, though there are plenty of questions about the dollar amount. The Phillies are also said to be intent on signing either Machado or Bryce Harper, so they may have extended a formal offer. However, Jon Heyman of Fancred says neither the Yankees or the Dodgers have made one.

There have been reports that Machado would prefer to sign with the Yankees, so they are probably waiting things out to see how the market unfolds. As for the Dodgers, Machado already seemed to bid farewell to them in a social media post, and there has been zero indication that they are interested in bringing him back.

Of course, anything Machado’s father says about the market for his son can be taken with a grain of salt. We saw by the way Machado’s agent slammed some recent reporting that the All-Star’s camp is not happy with the information floating around, and his father is part of that camp.

Sergey Kovalev accused of punching woman, charged with felony assault

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

Sergey Kovalev has a big fight upcoming against Eleider Alvarez on Feb. 2, but the former light heavyweight champion is dealing with some serious legal trouble in the meantime.

Kovalev has been charged with felony assault in Big Bear, Calif., after he was accused of punching a woman in the face back in June. TMZ reports that the woman told police she rejected Kovalev’s advances at a party, and the boxer and a friend followed her back to her cabin later that night and attacked her. She reportedly suffered a broken nose, concussion and displaced disk in her neck.

Kovalev was arrested a short time after the incident and charged with assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury. He pleaded not guilty and is due back in court in March, which would be after his fight against Alvarez.

The Feb. 2 fight between Kovalev and Alvarez will be a rematch of their bout back in August, when Kovalev was surprisingly knocked out and lost his title belt.

Refs admit LeBron James was right about foul call on Lonzo Ball

LeBron James

LeBron James missed his 12th straight game with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night as he continues to recover from a groin injury, but he still managed to create headlines when he questioned the officials over a controversial call. As it turns out, even the NBA knows LeBron’s complaint was valid.

The Lakers were leading by three points in the final seconds of regulation when Russell Westbrook was fouled by Lonzo Ball beyond the 3-point line. It looked like Ball committed the foul well before Westbrook began his shooting motion, but the refs awarded Westbrook three free throws and allowed the Oklahoma City Thunder to force overtime.

This look at the play appears to show that Westbrook had not begun the act of shooting:

Like many others, James disagreed with the call. He decided to question it on Twitter by asking what exactly defines being in the act of shooting, and that may result in a fine. However, the officials admitted after the game that replays showed Westbrook had not begun the act of shooting.

This certainly isn’t the first time the NBA has admitted to making a crucial mistake late in a game, but it’s much easier to do so when the team on the wrong end of the call wins. Fortunately, the Lakers pulled away and won 138-128 in overtime.

Chris Archer: Cheaters don’t deserve to be in Hall of Fame

Chris Archer

With the results of the latest round of Baseball Hall of Fame voting set to be released next week, the annual debate about whether or not performance-enhancing drug users should be allowed in Cooperstown is once again simmering. One starting pitcher wants to make his stance on the subject very clear.

On Thursday, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chris Archer said any player who has been suspended for or admitted to using PEDs should not be eligible for the Hall of Fame since they are proven to have “disgraced the integrity of the game.”

Archer certainly is not alone in that stance. However, the issue is a lot more complicated than he makes it sound. The two biggest names to watch once again this year are Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, both of whom are on their seventh ballot. Both players have strong ties to steroids, but — unlike nominees Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejada — neither has admitted to using them or been suspended for it. Does that mean they should be in the Hall?

We already know how Bonds feels about his own Hall of Fame candidacy, and Clemens once called out the supposed hypocrisy of a fellow star pitcher who urged voters to keep him out of Cooperstown.

Bonds and Clemens both received their highest vote percentage in six years last year, with the former getting 56.4 percent and the latter 57.3 percent. A total of at least 75 percent of the vote is needed to get into the Hall.

Watch: Frances Tiafoe does another LeBron James celebration after win

Frances Tiafoe LeBron silencer

Another day at the Australian Open, another win for Frances Tiafoe followed by a LeBron James celebration.

Tiafoe rallied from down 2 sets to 1 against Andreas Seppi to win their third round match on Friday in five sets 6-7, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Not only has Tiafoe accomplished his biggest career win at the tournament, but he also now has his best major finish of his young career.

After his big comeback win, Tiafoe celebrated by doing LeBron’s silencer:

Just two days ago, Tiafoe celebrated his win by doing LeBron’s biceps flex.

The 20-year-old is a huge fan of James and seems to model much of his behavior after the NBA star. He also could be on the verge of his big breakout tournament.

LeBron James questions referees, foul rule via Twitter

LeBron James

LeBron James still managed to make himself a storyline in the Los Angeles Lakers’ game on Thursday night despite not playing.

James’ Lakers were up by three points in the final seconds of the game. The Thunder gave the ball to Russell Westbrook, who dribbled up the court and attempted a 3-pointer to tie the game. Lonzo Ball appeared to foul Westbrook well before the OKC star attempted his shot. Still, the referees said the foul occurred while Westbrook was in the shooting motion, giving him three free throw attempts. Westbrook made all three to tie the game at 122.

Here’s a look at the play:

James disagreed with the call and let it be known via Twitter.

He should prepare for a fine from the league. At least his Lakers won it 138-128 in overtime.