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#pounditSaturday, May 28, 2022

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Nationals’ new Juan Soto bobblehead has hilarious twist

Juan Soto in a Nats hat

Jul 30, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) in the dugout before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals’ new bobblehead of star slugger Juan Soto is apparently very true to the source material.

Washington held a promotion for Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies where they gave away bobbleheads of Soto … with a funny twist. In addition to traditional bobblehead capacities, Soto’s bobblehead also has legs that move separately, a nod to the iconic “Soto Shuffle.” Take a look.

For the unintiated, the All-Star Soto is famous for the little strut he does when taking a pitch. At this point, it is as synoynmous with Soto as Nomar Garciaparra adjusting his batting gloves and Ichiro pointing his bat out to center field.

That is what makes this new Soto bobblehead is an all-timer, probably even more so than this other viral bobblehead the Nats produced a few years ago.

Mavericks teammates give themselves crude new nickname

Dorian Finney Smith in warmups

Mar 9, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) warms up before the game against the New York Knicks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of Dallas Mavericks teammates have given themselves a new nickname, and it’s a crude one.

Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith talked with the media on Friday, a day after their team’s season came to an end with a Game 5 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Finney-Smith called themselves the “Bang Bros.”

Here is the video, which shows Bullock’s reaction:

We’ve heard of the Splash Bros in Golden State. The Oakland A’s had the “Bash Brothers” in Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. The Dallas Mavericks have the “Bang Bros.”

And in case you’re scratching your head and wondering what’s so wrong with that nickname, well, you’re about to have your mind blown. Bang Bros is the name of an adult film studio that has been around since 2000. They’re known for their famous “bang bus” videos.

That’s a crude but fitting nickname for players who are doing a lot of scoring.

Ex-All Star pitcher receives 80-game suspension from MLB

Rob Manfred at a press conference

Feb 17, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addresses representatives from the grapefruit league during the annual spring training media day at Hilton in West Palm Beach. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A former All-Star pitcher is facing a more difficult road back to an MLB roster.

Carlos Martinez has been suspended 80 games by MLB, the league announced Friday. Martinez was suspended because he tested positive for the banned substance Ibutamoren.

Martinez, 30, pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2013-2021. He went 62-52 with a 3.74 ERA during his Cardinals career, making the All-Star team in 2015 and 2017.

Martinez has struggled the last two seasons. He went 0-3 with a 9.90 ERA in 2020 and 4-9 with a 6.23 ERA last season. The 6-foot pitcher missed time last season due to a thumb injury.

Martinez pitched for the Giants during spring training and was released last month. The Red Sox then picked him up but released him after he struggled in the minors.

The suspension on top of his recent struggles could make it extremely difficult for him to make it back to the majors again.

Kevin Durant responds to those trolling him over Warriors

Kevin Durant with a hood on

May 8, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) warms up before game against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant had a minute this week to address the trolls under the bridge.

The Brooklyn Nets star spoke Friday on those clowning him over the success of his former team, the Golden State Warriors. One such tweet about Durant read, “The Warriors replaced Kevin Durant with Andrew Wiggins and still made the finals pretty easily.”

Durant responded with a message that read, “I would say that these people have been hurting for way too long, it’s time for #healing.”

The former NBA MVP Durant played for the Warriors from 2016 to 2019, winning the only two rings of his NBA career with them. A popular criticism of Durant’s move to Golden State has been that the Warriors were seemingly a championship-caliber squad both before Durant arrived as well as after he left. Golden State making it back to the Finals just three years after Durant’s exit, their sixth Finals berth in eight years, may further legitimize that take.

In fairness, it is a big oversimplication to say that all the Warriors did was go from Durant to Wiggins. After Durant left, they also used smart drafting and quality player development with young guys such as Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and Gary Payton II to get to where they are now. But anything Warriors-related has been a sore spot for Durant in recent years, so this latest wave of trolling definitely has to strike a nerve for him.

Gabe Kapler refusing to partake in national anthem

Gabe Kapler in a Giants cap

Sep 13, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler (19) returns to the dugout before the game against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler is taking a stand in response to the massive shooting at an elementary school in Texas this week.

The Giants manager published a post on his website Friday in which he expressed his extreme disappointment with the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and 2 adults were killed by a gunman on Tuesday.

Kapler believes gun control measures could help prevent such shootings. He said he felt conflicted about standing for the national anthem at a time he was so upset with the country’s lawmakers.

“We aren’t free when politicians decide that the lobbyist and gun industries are more important than our children’s freedom to go to school without needing bulletproof backpacks and active shooter drills,” Kapler wrote.

He then indicated plans to protest the national anthem.

“But I am not okay with the state of this country. I wish I hadn’t let my discomfort compromise my integrity. I wish that I could have demonstrated what I learned from my dad, that when you’re dissatisfied with your country, you let it be known through protest. The home of the brave should encourage this.”

Kapler confirmed to reporters on Friday that he does not plan to come out for the national anthem until he feels better about the direction of the country.

The 46-year-old is in his third season as the manager of the Giants. He previously managed the Phillies for two seasons.

Old Steph Curry quote goes viral after Warriors clinch Finals berth

Steph Curry looking on

Nov 30, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to “Chef Curry” and “The Baby-Faced Assassin,” it may be time to christen Steph Curry with another nickname — “Stephstradamus.”

After the Golden State Warriors clinched an NBA Finals berth on Thursday, an old quote from the Warriors star Curry went viral. Speaking last year amid Golden State’s loss in the 2021 play-in tournament, Curry boldly declared that “you don’t wanna see us next year.”

It turns out that Curry was 110 percent correct in his assessment. With Klay Thompson back from injury, Andrew Wiggins ascending to All-Star status, and Jordan Poole having a breakout year, Curry and Draymond Green now have weapons stacked on weapons surrounding them again. Now that they have a full week off before the NBA Finals start, the Warriors could even be getting the likes of Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., and Andre Iguodala returning to the lineup as well.

Though the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics still has yet to be decided, the Warriors look like the team to beat right now. Even scarier is that Curry seems fully in his element once again.

Mavericks no longer plan to pursue 1 high-profile offseason target?

Mark Cuban smiles

Nov 27, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban smiles for the camera before the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks’ run to the conference finals may have also changed up their gameplan for the summer.

Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein reported Friday that the Mavs are unlikely to initiate an all-out trade pursuit of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

Gobert, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, was previously linked to the Mavs a few months ago. But since then, Dallas made a surprise charge to the Western Conference Finals, potentially indicating that a major offseason facelift is unnecessary.

Utah could still end up trading Gobert, especially in light of their own first-round playoff exit this year. But there seems to be little reason right now for Dallas to take on the $170 million Gobert is owed through 2026. Instead, the Mavs would be wise to focus on continuing to build around the not-yet 24-year-old Luka Doncic, re-signing free agent guard Jalen Brunson, and perhaps going after this more cost-efficient center upgrade instead.

Baker Mayfield actually praised by notable Browns teammate

Baker Mayfield in a hat

Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is shown on the sideline during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The way Baker Mayfield has been trashed all offseason, you would have thought he was a terrible player who is hated by everyone in the Browns’ locker room. But that is not the case.

Mayfield had fans in Cleveland’s locker room, and he also delivered the team’s first playoff win since 1994. It wasn’t all bad for the Browns with Mayfield at quarterback. Even though Mayfield’s days as a Browns player are done, he still has some fans in Cleveland.

One Browns offensive star actually complimented Mayfield this week.

Browns running back Nick Chubb talked with reporters from Cleveland’s organized team activities this week. Chubb called Mayfield one of his best friends.

“He’ll still always be one of my best friends. He’s a great guy. I know with his intensity and his attitude, wherever he lands, he’ll be ready,” Chubb said of Mayfield.

Chubb and Mayfield came into the NFL at the same time. Mayfield was the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 and Chubb was taken No. 35 overall by Cleveland that year. They formed a strong tandem and helped Cleveland became instantly more formidable than they were from 2015-2017. Chubb has even made the Pro Bowl for three straight seasons.

Mayfield is still under contract with Cleveland but not attending team events. He is seeking a trade because he was upset with the team for its pursuit of Deshaun Watson, who is now their No. 1 quarterback. Mayfield’s contract situation is a hurdle in the team’s efforts to trade him.

H/T The Spun

Top NBA Draft prospect attended Warriors-Mavericks Game 5

People meet

There were a ton of talented basketball players in the building at the Chase Center in San Francisco on Thursday night. One of the top players at the game wasn’t a participant though.

Chet Holmgren, who is a candidate to go No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, was at the game.

The former Gonzaga star was seen talking with Luka Doncic and Mark Cuban nearby.

Holmgren also visited with some involved with the Warriors.

But it was his visit with Dirk Nowitzki that may have proved to be the most fruitful:

Holmgren is trying to do something in the NBA that Nowitzki was able to accomplish (beyond winning a championship). Dirk is the only 7-footer who posted a 50/40/90 season in the NBA. Holmgren has his eye on that rare mark.

In his lone season at Gonzaga, Holmgren averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. He is a massive presence in the middle due to his length and shot-blocking ability. The Orlando Magic may have him targeted for the No. 1 pick.

Former Pro Bowler rips Drew Brees for ‘crying out for attention’

Drew Brees smiling at practice

Aug 23, 2018; Costa Mesa, CA, USA: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) reacts during joint practice against the Los Angeles Chargers at the Jack. R. Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees was not as much of an instant television success as many anticipated he would be last season, and one former Pro Bowler who played against him is not surprised.

Brees worked as a studio analyst for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” last year, but he is not expected to continue in that role. Former Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington discussed Brees’ future during a recent episode of his FOX Sports Radio show “2 Pros and a Cup of Joe,” which he co-hosts with Brady Quinn. Arrington ripped Brees for what Arrington perceives as a big ego.

“He’s just not as popular as he thinks he is,” Arrington said, via Patrick Magee of NOLA.com. “He’s not as loved as he thinks he is and he acts out when it doesn’t go the way he would like for it go. He’s reaching out and he’s crying out for attention.”

Arrington was referring specifically to a tweet where Brees hinted at a potential NFL comeback. He also said he is not closing the door on returning to NBC, despite a report that the network does not want him back. Some people feel the tweet was Brees’ way of trying to control the narrative around his disappointing TV debut.

Quinn agreed with Arrington.

“He’s not really wanted by NBC. He’s not really wanted by the Saints,” Quinn said. “Maybe he will end up with FOX, but that’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

Brees has been mentioned as a possible candidate for FOX’s No. 2 NFL analyst job.

The situation with Brees is a reminder that not every star quarterback can be Tony Romo as an analyst. There is still time for Brees to find the right TV role and grow into it, but he is not off to the best start.