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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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Report: Patriots want an answer from Tom Brady before free agency

Tom Brady

Tom Brady is now one month away from becoming a free agent for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, and there has been a lot of talk about him meeting with other teams and seeing what offers are out there. If he does that, however, he may be effectively bidding farewell to the New England Patriots.

Michael Giardi of NFL Network reports that Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ football operations people want to know Brady’s intentions before the official start of free agency. If Brady drags the situation out, it would place New England at a major disadvantage with being able to sign other players.

The Patriots would have to absorb a $13.5 million dead salary cap charge if Brady is not on the roster when the 2020 league year begins on March 18. That is the same day teams can begin signing free agents, so things could get complicated if Brady is committed to visiting with other teams before making a decision. Although, there is a “legal tampering” period beginning on March 16 where players can negotiate with teams. If Brady does end up returning to New England, it’s possible he could speak with other teams in the two days before the official start of free agency and then still sign with the Patriots before the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. on March 18.

It makes sense that the Patriots want to know Brady’s intentions before free agency, as they don’t want to incur an unnecessary cap charge and/or be left without a viable replacement option. If Brady does plan to return to the Patriots, there’s no need for him to put them at a disadvantage with their salary cap situation. That would make it more difficult for New England to spend money on other players, and having an improved supporting cast is likely Brady’s top priority as he heads into his age-43 season.

Brady is probably already working back channels to find out what types of offers might be out there for him, and money is almost certainly not the most important factor. Unless he is committed to leaving New England, it would be beneficial for Brady to make up his mind before free agency. The Patriots reportedly believe that only one team is a real threat to sign Brady away from them, so they may not be all that concerned about having a decision from him prior to March 18.

Tim Tebow had ‘a couple conversations’ with XFL

Tim Tebow Mets

Tim Tebow is committed to his baseball career, but he did, at least briefly, consider an XFL opportunity when the league was filling its roster.

Tebow said there was “some communication” and “a couple conversations” with the XFL, and he praised the league’s mission. However, he added that playing football again was never a serious consideration, and he wanted to remain “all-in” on his baseball career.

You can’t blame the XFL for reaching out to one of the sport’s most famous quarterbacks about playing. Tebow might as well have listened, considering the exposure and potential financial benefits of such a move. Ultimately, though, he really wants to follow through on his baseball career, even though he’s likely going to be in the minors once again in 2020.

Tebow struggled mightily with the move to AAA in 2019, hitting just .163 with four home runs in 77 games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo would love to team up with brothers in ‘LA, Milwaukee, whatever’

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is currently scheduled to become a free agent following the 2020-21 season, and there has been a lot of talk about him potentially leaving the Milwaukee Bucks. The reigning NBA MVP has made it clear that loyalty is important to him, but could it be loyalty to his family that dictates Antetokounmpo’s future?

Giannis and his older brother Thanasis are currently teammates in Milwaukee. One of their younger brothers, Kostas, is under a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers while their youngest brother, Alex, is an up-and-coming 18-year-old player. Giannis was asked this week what it would be like to team up with all of his brothers, and he said it would be “amazing.” He also inadvertently gave Bucks fans a scare when he said he would like to team up with his brothers in “Milwaukee, LA, whatever.”

Giannis almost certainly mentioned LA because that is where Kostas plays, but it doesn’t take much to fuel the NBA rumor mill.

Antetokounmpo has made it clear in the past that he doesn’t like talking about his contract, but he’s one of the biggest superstars in the game. The Bucks will be able to offer him a mammoth extension this summer, and it would not be a surprise if Giannis signs it and ends all the speculation about his future. While playing with all of his brothers would probably be a dream come true, it is highly unlikely to happen.

Yu Darvish wants Astros stripped of 2017 title

Yu Darvish

Few players lost more in the 2017 World Series than Yu Darvish. His reputation was significantly hindered by his poor performances in two starts that series, including a horrible outing in the decisive Game 7. Now, given the information that has come to light, he’s feeling a bit differently.

Darvish wondered aloud Sunday why the Houston Astros were not stripped of that title in light of the large-scale cheating they were engaged in at the time. Darvish compared it to Olympic athletes who had their medals stripped after being found to have cheated, and questioned why the Astros were not subject to a similar penalty.

Darvish added that players like Carlos Correa “shouldn’t talk” right now in light of what the Astros were found to have done.

Darvish might be the most prominent player to ask this question so far, but he’s not the first. Stripping the Astros of their title would certainly send a message, though it probably wouldn’t do much more than that. It’s not as if the Dodgers would get the title as a result, and one of their players has made clear they wouldn’t want it that way anyway.

Darvish, now with the Chicago Cubs, has managed to keep his sense of humor over the whole thing. You can’t blame him for wondering about things like this, though.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Nick Markakis: Astros players ‘deserve a beating’ for stealing signs

There has been no shortage of outrage expressed across Major League Baseball over the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, but Nick Markakis appears to feel a bit more strongly about the situation than most.

With a lot of talk over the past few weeks about pitchers intentionally throwing at Astros hitters in 2020, Markakis made it clear on Tuesday that he believes Houston players deserve whatever happens to them this season. The Atlanta Braves outfielder went as far as to say “every single guy over there deserves a beating.”

Markakis said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred “should be embarrassed of himself” for letting every Astros player off the hook.

“What they did was bulls—. I know how hard this game is and I know how hard preparing for this game is,” Markakis told reporters. “To see something like that is damaging to baseball. It’s anger. I feel every single guy over there deserves a beating.”

We’ve heard a lot of strong comments from players around the league, but those are certainly some of the most intense. Even Mike Trout, who hardly ever shares his thoughts on controversial issues, came down hard on the Astros this week. One pitcher openly admitted that he has considered throwing at Astros hitters, and the consensus seems to be that Houston players could be plunked regularly in 2020.

With the way players have been talking, it would be a surprise if there weren’t multiple incidents involving Astros players this season. The general feeling around the league is that MLB failed to adequately punish players for their role in the sign-stealing scheme.

Dwyane Wade posts funny reaction to backlash from Dunk Contest

Common Pippen Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade has faced a lot of criticism for the role he played in robbing Aaron Gordon of a win in the NBA Dunk Contest on Saturday night, and he has now taken to social media to defend himself.

Gordon received a total score of 47 on his final dunk despite leaping over 7-foot-5 big man Tacko Fall. Derrick Jones Jr. got a 48 for his dunk after the two players each scored perfect 50s on their first three dunks of the final round, so Jones took home the hardware. Wade was one of three judges who gave Gordon a 9, and he reminded everyone of that with a funny Instagram post on Sunday.

Rapper Common, who was also a judge for the contest, said Gordon and Jones were supposed to tie on their last dunk, but one of the judges screwed up giving his or her score. The way Common and fellow judge Scottie Pippen (who also gave Gordon a 9) looked at Wade after the scores were delivered made it seem like Wade was the one who messed up. Jones also plays for the Miami Heat, so some conspiracy theorists wondered if Wade intentionally helped give Jones the win over Gordon.

Obviously, the Dunk Contest is a fun event and no one’s livelihood was at stake. Still, Gordon not winning after dunking over a 7-foot-5 dude has led to some great reactions. Wade is clearly feeling the heat, and we don’t mean the Miami kind.

Rob Manfred’s disastrous press conference shows how badly MLB mismanaged Astros crisis

Had nothing else been said after the release of Major League Baseball’s findings relating to the Houston Astros cheating scandal, the affair already would have been incredibly damaging for the sport. Both the Astros themselves and the league, however, have made it worse every time they have opened their mouths.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be fair to expect much from the Astros players. Yes, their reputations will take a permanent hit, they’ve been sharply criticized by their peers, and their accomplishments have been tainted. However, everyone on the 2017 team will still be able to point to the championship banner and the World Series rings they now possess, and in their minds, those accomplishments are legitimate. The question has been asked whether it’s worth the scandal and fallout if it means you still get a World Series title out of it. Most would probably say yes, especially in light of the fact that no players were directly punished by the league. While not a defense, it’s easy to see why an Astros player would offer an apology of questionable sincerity and just be prepared to move on.

That is why it was so important for commissioner Rob Manfred to get both the investigation and the punishment correct. It is now widely accepted that he didn’t do that.

The decision not to punish players has outraged most fans and even other players, especially since the sign-stealing scheme was characterized as “player-driven” in the league’s final report. It means Astros players devised the scheme, reaped the benefits, and watched as manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow got fired. It’s hard to see how anyone would really learn a lesson from that.

Manfred’s decision not to punish the players stems, by all accounts, from two factors.