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#pounditMonday, August 8, 2022

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Cubs parting ways with notable core player at end of season

David Ross in the dugout

Mar 10, 2020; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs manager David Ross looks on during a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs have largely moved on from the core of players who won the World Series in 2016. On Monday, the team announced that another big part of that team will be departing at the end of the season.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer announced that the team will mutually part ways with outfielder Jason Heyward at the end of the season. Heyward, who is unlikely to play again in 2022 due to a knee issue, wants to play in 2023. The Cubs will give him an entire offseason to find a new club.

Heyward is due $22 million next season, the final year of the eight-year deal he signed with the team prior to the 2016 campaign. The Cubs will apparently just pay that off and let Heyward walk.

Heyward’s offensive numbers were middling during his Cubs tenure, but he was renowned as an excellent leader and defender. Players credited one of his major off-field actions as a key part of the Cubs’ win in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

With Heyward on the way out and Willson Contreras facing free agency, pitcher Kyle Hendricks may be the only remaining piece of that 2016 on the team’s roster in 2023.

Most Oklahoma players wanted Cale Gundy to stay?

Cale Gundy in a visor

Apr 23, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners receivers coach Cale Gundy during the spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime Oklahoma assistant football coach Cale Gundy made the shocking announcement on Sunday night that he has resigned from his position, but he reportedly still had the support of most Sooners players.

Gundy, 50, explained in a lengthy statement that he stepped down after he said an inappropriate word in front of players during a film session. While Gundy did not specify which word he used, he said it is one that he read off of a player’s iPad without realizing it after reprimanding the player for being distracted. Gundy said he was “horrified” by what he said and apologized.

Gabe Ikard, who hosts a SiriusXM Radio show and Oklahoma football podcast, said he spoke with several Sooners players who wanted Gundy to stay. Ikard said he was given the impression that the “vast majority” of players at Oklahoma were not upset with Gundy.

The story is one that simply does not add up. Inadvertently reading an inappropriate word off of a player’s iPad does not exactly sound like an offense that should cost someone his or her job.

If most — or all — players were not offended, that makes the story even more bizarre. Gundy has a 30-year record of playing with and coaching players of all backgrounds without ever having any issues regarding his character. The incident he described is one that seemed like an honest mistake.

Odell Beckham Jr hints at interest in AFC team

Odell Beckham on the field for warmups

Oct 21, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) warms up before the game between the Browns and the Denver Broncos at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Odell Beckham Jr. appears to be in no rush to sign with a team, but we may be able to add another contender to the star wide receiver’s list.

Von Miller, who signed with the Buffalo Bills this offseason, shared a short clip on Instagram Sunday from training camp with his new team. Beckham was among those who commented on the post. OBJ asked Miller, “what’s the locker next to you look like!!!??”

Keep in mind that Beckham is probably just trying to boost his stock. He may actually be interested in signing with the Bills, but he also knows it is in his best interest to keep his options open and create as much buzz as possible.

Beckham is said to be drawing interest from multiple contending teams. A lot of people believe he will eventually return to the Los Angeles Rams, but the market for him might grow if there are one or more injuries to top wide receivers around the league.

Beckham tore his ACL in the Super Bowl and is expected to miss at least the first half of the 2022 season. He could be using his timeline for recovery as part of an overall free agent strategy.

Report: 49ers prepared for long wait on Jimmy Garoppolo trade

Jimmy Garoppolo in pads

Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) walks on the field before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers may not close to trading Jimmy Garoppolo, but the organization is not keen to rush into a panic move with their veteran quarterback.

The 49ers have not found any clear trade partners as they look for a Garoppolo move, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. However, the team is willing to wait until as late as the roster cutdown deadline to make a decision on Garoppolo. The Niners reportedly are hoping that another team decides to pursue an upgrade or has to cope with an injury.

For context, the deadline to cut rosters down to 53 for the regular season is Aug. 30. That essentially means the 49ers are prepared to keep Garoppolo throughout the entire preseason if that proves necessary.

Garoppolo is still linked to the occasional team, but they don’t necessarily make clear sense or offer a starting job for the veteran. If that does not change by the end of the month, the 49ers will have a difficult decision to make. They’re likely hoping it does not come to that.

Video: Nick Faldo cries during final CBS golf broadcast

Nick Faldo and Ian Baker-Finch

Nick Faldo announced earlier this summer that he is leaving CBS after a 16-year run, and his final broadcast with the network was on Sunday. The occasion was a very emotional one for the six-time major champion and his colleagues.

CBS paid tribute to Faldo during the final round of The Wyndham Championship. Both he and Ian Baker-Finch fought back tears as they said farewell to one another.

The moment was a bit of a full-circle one for Faldo. The first ever PGA Tour event that the 65-year-old played in was the Greater Greensboro Open 43 years ago. That tournament later became The Wyndham Championship.

Faldo’s contract with CBS is set to expire, and he listed several reasons why he has decided to step away. Broadcasts on CBS and the Golf Channel will not be the same without him.

NFL makes notable rule tweak for 2022 season

Roger Goodell at a press conference

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces the final pick of the 2021 NFL Draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL implemented a rule in 2018 that prohibited players from lowering their helmet to initiate contact with an opponent, and the wording of that rule has been changed a bit ahead of the upcoming season.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noticed that the NFL has made a quiet tweak to the lowering of the helmet rule. The rule now states the following: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent.”

Previously, the rule said that a foul occurs when the player “initiates” contact with an opponent. That word has been removed. The word “forcible” has also been added and was not in the previous rule.

What does all that mean? Florio was told by a source that NFL officials removed the word “initiate” because it became a big topic of debate when players were fined. It was likely difficult to prove which player initiated the contact, which worked in the favor of players during the appeals process.

By adding “forcible,” the NFL is probably trying to allow officials to use more discretion. Of course, that could also become a problem during appeals.

We have seen some ridiculous calls that stem from the lowering the helmet rule. It is possible that the NFL is trying to avoid situations like that.

Browns reportedly deny star player’s trade request

Kevin Stefanski speaks with the media

Feb 25, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Cleveland Browns general manager Kevin Stefanski speaks to the media during the 2020 NFL Combine in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kareem Hunt has refused to take part in portions of training camp as he seeks a new contract, and he has reportedly asked the Cleveland Browns to trade him. It does not sound like that request will be granted, however.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported on Sunday that the Browns have told Hunt they are not going to trade him. Hunt has been a “hold-in” at training camp thus far, meaning he is only participating in individual drills.

The Browns reserve the right to fine Hunt for his refusal to take part in team drills. Cabot notes that the team does not plan to wave those fines.

Hunt is in the final season of his contract and wants a new deal. He signed a two-year extension in 2021 that is worth up to $13.25 million. There are incentives in the contract that are tied to him being on the active roster.

Though he is from Cleveland and has said he wants to remain with the Browns, Hunt likely wants to be paid like a starting running back. The Browns are currently paying Nick Chubb an average of $12 million per season, so it is unlikely that they want to tie up much more money at the position.

Hunt has been a very effective rusher with Cleveland and throughout his career. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season, though he appeared in just eight games because of injuries. He is 27, which is likely why he feels a sense of urgency to cash in with one more big contract. It remains to be seen how much money Hunt is willing to forfeit in the short-term in pursuit of a new deal.

Video: Minor league team shoots off fireworks into crowd

Fireworks blazing across

The Los Angeles Angels have been a disaster on the field, and their minor league affiliates aren’t faring much better.

The Angels’ Double-A affiliate Rocket City Trash Pandas held a fireworks night on Friday at their stadium in Madison, Ala. There was a big screwup as several fireworks were sent flying through the crowd.

Take a look at the scary scene:

According to AL.com, one team employee was taken to the hospital for a “slight leg injury.”

“On Friday night during the Trash Pandas postgame fireworks show, one firework unexpectedly ignited, causing it to veer off course,” the team said in a statement. “No fans were harmed, and the fireworks vendor adamantly expressed that this has never happened before in over 40 years of their experience.

“Every Toyota Field fireworks show is always supervised by the Madison Fire and Rescue Departments. All parties are taking extreme precautions to ensure that this does not happen again.”

The company that puts on the fireworks said in a statement released Saturday that they discovered the reason for the mishap.

“After considerable investigation into the incident last night, we discovered that a particular product had been incorrectly inserted and secured into its holder. During our continuing look at our procedures regarding the device, the supporting equipment and the technicians that use it, we are eliminating it from the show until that device and supporting procedures have been fully updated to assure providing safe shows for our customers.”

That was one heck of a trash performance.

Mac Jones, Patriots’ offense not looking great in training camp?

Mac Jones in pads

Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones 10) throws the ball during a game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones looked very good as a rookie last season. But according to one reporter, he hasn’t looked quite as good to start training camp with the New England Patriots, and the problems are deeper than the quarterback.

NFL Network reporter Mike Giardi says that Jones has not looked as comfortable this camp as he did last year.

“Mac Jones had some moments of uncertainty a yr ago in training camp but not nearly as many as you would expect for a rook. This summer? Far more. Yes, it is early August. There’s time. However, the install started back in the spring & you’d like more comfort & success,” Giardi wrote.

Giardi added that the Patriots’ offense hasn’t been able to run the ball at all in camp and that receivers haven’t been getting open.

“To clarify, this isn’t all on Mac. Blocking has been poor (they haven’t been able to run the ball a lick in camp) and last night, there were a number of times Mac had to hold because receivers weren’t open. Not a wonderful combination…” Giardi wrote.

Giardi isn’t alone in this opinion.

ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss noted that there have been a number of “no chance” plays for the Pats’ offense in camp.

This is only the start of camp, and it’s possible New England’s defense is playing extremely well. But in a league that increasingly is focused on explosive offenses, the Patriots’ offense struggling in camp is a concern.

New England lost offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the Las Vegas Raiders. They seem to be replacing him with former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. This could end up being a big problem for the Pats.

Shohei Ohtani sums up Angels’ difficult season

Shohei Ohtani smiles

Jul 19, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; American League pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) of the Los Angeles Angels smiles at fans before the 2022 MLB All Star Game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Things have not gone according to plan for the Los Angeles Angels this season. They are 45-61, in fourth place in the AL West and 24 games out of first place. That’s a miserable place to be, admits superstar Shohei Ohtani.

“Remaining motivated in that way is hard,” Ohtani told the Los Angeles Times following a 3-1 loss to the A’s earlier this week.

Ohtani hurled 5.2 inning of two-run ball, but it wasn’t enough for the Angels. Their bats couldn’t get going and Ohtani himself went 0-for-3.

“Individually, there are many things I have to do,” he said. “But my life in baseball will continue for some time and whatever the circumstances, I’d like to be focused each and every game.”

Since those comments were made, the Angels have gone 1-1 including an 8-7 loss to Oakland in which they connected for seven solo home runs. They were barely able to escape the Marines on Friday night, rebounding in the 10th inning after blowing a 4-0 lead in the ninth.

Things are not likely to get any easier for Los Angeles, either. They traded away starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, closer Raisel Iglesias and outfielder Brandon Marsh at the deadline.

“I’m cheering from the bottom of my heart for the players who left,” Ohtani added. “I’d like them to be part of good teams, get results and do their best in the postseason.”

The postseason is where Ohtani would love to be, but he recognizes that’s not likely to happen. That reality puts a strain on the day-to-day.

“As a player, it’s pretty tough knowing the chances are low that a win will play a part in getting you to the postseason. But I think I’d like to do what I have to do the best I can,” he said.

The remainder of the season is certain to be a grind for Ohtani and his Angels teammates.