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Monday, February 17, 2020

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Report: John Beilein could step down as Cavaliers head coach

John Beilein

John Beilein’s tenure as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers is expected to be a brief one.

The Athletic reported on Sunday night Beilein is not expected to remain as the Cavaliers’ head coach beyond this season. ESPN took that a step further, saying there have been talks about Beilein stepping down during the All-Star break.

Woj says Beilein is weighing his future and considering stepping down.

The Cavaliers are 14-40 and entered the All-Star break with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. This is Beilein’s first season as an NBA head coach after his successful stint at Michigan.

There have been talks about issues with Beilein working as an NBA coach since December. A report at the time said players did not like the way Beilein was operating the team like a college program. There was another moment when Beilein received negative publicity in January when he inadvertently called his players “thugs” instead of “slugs.”

J.B. Bickerstaff, who is currently an assistant coach with the Cavs, was mentioned as a possible replacement if Beilein were to step away. Bickerstaff has served as an interim head coach in Houston and Memphis previously.

Charles Barkley takes funny shot at Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley is having some fun with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid at the NBA All-Star Game.

The relationship between Simmons and Embiid has been scrutinized this season, with growing questions over whether the pair are a good long-term fit together. Barkley leaned into that on TNT’s All-Star pregame show when the two players, playing for separate teams in Sunday night’s game, were shown on screen together. Barkley joked that the two players operating against each other is nothing new.

Barkley hasn’t been shy in talking about these two before. Between Simmons’ hesitance to shoot jumpers and questions about Embiid’s health, the dynamic duo hasn’t quite turned out how the Sixers probably hoped it would. The questions about whether they’re a fit will continue, especially given some recent public comments. For now, though, Barkley is entitled to have his fun.

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.


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.

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:

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.

Rob Manfred: I can’t say for ‘100 percent certain’ Astros didn’t use buzzers

Jose Altuve buzzer

Major League Baseball found no evidence of the Houston Astros cheating during the 2019 season or wearing buzzers in order to help them steal signs, but commissioner Rob Manfred admits that does not necessarily mean the accusations are a complete fabrication.

Manfred addressed the buzzer allegations in an interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravech, and the commissioner said MLB looked into that during its investigation and could not find “a single witness who could corroborate that there were buzzers being used” in 2019 or that the Astros were cheating at all that season. Manfred said he’s inclined to believe the players since they were so transparent about everything that went on during 2017 and 2018, though he admitted he can’t say for certain that there were no buzzers.

“The buzzer allegation with the tape and everything, we were fully aware of that during the investigation. … Can I tell you for 100 percent certain that it didn’t happen? No, you can never know that,” Manfred said. “People tell you what they tell you. I can tell you the evidence on this issue was as consistent in the direction that nothing was going on as the evidence was consistent in the direction that there was inappropriate behavior in ’17 and ’18.”

There have been rumors that Astros players wpre buzzers to alert them of which pitches were coming last season. The way Jose Altuve pleaded with his teammates to not tear off his jersey after he hit a walk-off home run in Game 6 of the ALCS only made people more suspicious, but Altuve quickly issued a denial. Former Houston manager AJ Hinch initially dodged a question about the buzzers but later issued a firm denial.

Obviously, the Astros have not earned the benefit of the doubt. Many fans and players still believe the buzzer allegations, and there will probably be no way to change their minds. Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki is also convinced Houston was cheating during the World Series last year, regardless of the lack of evidence.

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: