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#pounditWednesday, September 30, 2020

Headlines

Is Brodie Van Wagenen on his way out with Mets?

Brodie Van Wagenen

Brodie Van Wagenen is in only his second season as the general manager of the New York Mets, and it is fair to wonder if it will be his last.

Steve Cohen, who recently purchased the New York Mets but still needs approval from Major League Baseball to take over, announced on Thursday that he is planning to bring back former Mets GM Sandy Alderson to serve as team president.

“If I am fortunate enough to be approved by Major League Baseball as the next owner of this iconic franchise, Sandy Alderson will become president of the New York Mets and will oversee all Mets baseball and business operations,” Cohen said in a statement “Sandy is an accomplished and respected baseball executive who shares my philosophy of building an organization and a team the right way. I am excited to have Sandy in a key leadership role with the Mets if my purchase of the team is approved. Lets’ Go Mets!”

Cohen has been a limited partner with the Mets for eight years now, so he is familiar with Alderson. Alderson was the GM of the Mets from 2010 until he stepped down in 2018 because of a recurrence of cancer. He has since taken a job as a senior advisor with the Oakland A’s.

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, Cohen’s decision to bring back Alderson may have some business strategy behind it. Alderson is well respected across baseball, as he has worked in front office roles since the early 1980s. His association with the Mets could help assure that Cohen gets the votes he needs to complete the purchase of the franchise.

From a baseball standpoint, Alderson’s return could spell bad news for Van Wagenen. The former agent has traded a number of top prospects in an attempt to improve the major league roster, but that has not paid off. The Mets missed the playoffs last year and are on their way to meeting the same fate this season. Van Wagenen was also involved in an embarrassing controversy recently.

Alderson built New York’s 2015 NL championship team, and Sherman notes that his relationship with Van Wagenen is not all that strong. The two are familiar with one another from when Van Wagenen was an agent, but that’s really the only tie.

Assuming Cohen’s sale goes through and Alderson takes over baseball operations, it seems unlikely that Van Wagenen is going to keep his job.

Brad Stevens has great comment about Tyler Herro’s huge game

Tyler Herro

Tyler Herro was the star in the Miami Heat’s 112-109 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Wednesday.

Herro shot 14/21 for a career-high 37 points. He went 5-for-10 on threes and made all four of his free throws in the win.

A fearless player, the 20-year-old scored 17 in the fourth quarter.

Herro received praise from nearly everyone watching and participating in the game. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens couldn’t help but add praise after his team’s loss.

“Tyler Herro was ridiculous tonight. The rim must have looked like an ocean for him,” Stevens said.

It sure seemed that way; Herro played like he couldn’t miss.

Few players have broken out in a bigger way in the NBA Bubble than Herro. A rookie first-round pick out of Kentucky, Herro is averaging 14.8 points per game during the postseason. He has become an even bigger part of Miami’s rotation, seeing his minutes increase by around six per game during the postseason.

Thanks to Herro’s efforts, the Heat now lead the series 3-1 and are a win away from the NBA Finals.

Peyton Manning takes funny shot at Patriots for cheating

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning took a funny jab at the New England Patriots for cheating during a TV appearance on Monday night.

Manning and Charles Barkley joined Rece Davis and Kirk Herbstreit for ESPN’s alternate broadcast of “Monday Night Football” between the Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints. Manning was talking about the way the NFL allows headset communication between coaches and quarterbacks during games. He said the communication is allowed on offense up until 15 seconds before the play. Then he joked that the Patriots allow the communication to last for longer.

“You have until 15 seconds on the play clock, and then somebody cuts the line. Now certain teams, maybe in the Northeast, they don’t cut their lines. They let it go all the way to zero seconds. But most of the teams do cut the line, so you have to get the play in earlier,” Manning said.

That was very clearly a shot at the Patriots.

For years teams have complained about headset issues when facing the Patriots. We wrote about it in 2007, then in 2015, and in the 2016 season. Bill Belichick denied any wrongdoing and said his team experiences the same issues too.

Manning is suggesting the opposite happened; that New England used the headsets to excess.

Manning had a longstanding rivalry in the AFC with the Patriots. He faced them 25 times during his career and went 9-15 against them, though he was 3-2 in the playoffs (including his time with Denver).

Though Manning seemed to be joking with that line on ESPN’s telecast, a teammate recently shared just how paranoid Peyton was about the Patriots cheating.

Cam Newton defends controversial final play call in loss to Seahawks

Cam Newton

The New England Patriots had a chance to defeat the Seattle Seahawks on the final play of the game on Sunday night, but the designed run they called for Cam Newton was stuffed at the goal line. Many felt offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should have gone with a passing play, but Newton strongly believes it was the right call.

Newton said after his team’s 35-30 loss that it’s possible the Patriots “went to the well one too many times,” but he said the play came down to execution. He was even more adamant in defending the call during his appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” Tuesday.

Newton said he watched the tape of the play and felt he could have bounced it outside. You can see from the angle below that he probably could have gotten to the corner, though that’s easier to say in hindsight.

As Newton mentioned, the quarterback power run had been successful the previous three times McDaniels called it in the game. Belichick also defended the decision and said he has no issue with the Patriots calling their “best play.”

The big takeaway is the accountability from Newton. He’s quickly established himself as a leader in New England by doing and saying all of the right things. If you want to know whether he has earned the respect of his teammates, look no further than what Matthew Slater said after Sunday’s game.

Cam Newton is now a member of the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Michael Jordan starting NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as his driver

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is teaming up with Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace to make an entrance into the world of NASCAR.

Jordan will be the primary owner of a single-car team that will race in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2021. Hamlin will be a co-owner of the team, and Wallace will be the driver.

Hamlin has a connection to Jordan through Jordan Brand and is longtime friends with “His Airness.” Wallace, who is the only black driver on the NASCAR Cup Series, has raced for Richard Petty Motorsports but recently announced he would not be back with them.

Now, Wallace has a new gig driving for MJ.

Jordan, 57, is regarded as perhaps the greatest basketball player ever. He is now a billionaire and owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

Wallace, 26, has nine career top-10 finishes in the Cup Series. In June, Wallace was part of a high-profile situation involving a rope/noose hanging in his garage.

Saquon Barkley’s 2018 comments about Adrian Peterson take on new meaning

Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley has been open about the fact that Adrian Peterson was one of his childhood heroes. The New York Giants star has tried to model his game and work ethic after Peterson’s, and he can now lean on A.P. for advice on overcoming an extremely difficult injury.

Barkley left Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears with a knee injury, and early indications are that he tore his ACL. Peterson, of course, suffered a torn ACL late in the 2011 season and then returned the following year to set a career high with 2,097 rushing yards. When Barkley was a rookie in 2018, NFL Films captured him on the sideline talking about Peterson’s 2012 comeback. Peterson gave Barkley some words of wisdom after the game.

Assuming Barkley does have a torn ACL, he’ll have more time to recover than Peterson did. Peterson’s torn ACL came on Dec. 24, 2011. He somehow underwent surgery and rehabbed hard enough to be ready for Week 1 in 2012. If all goes well for Barkley, there’s no reason he can’t do the same.

Barkley already proved how tough he is when he played through a significant injury last season. There’s no reason to doubt that he will come back stronger than ever in 2021, especially if Peterson mentors him along the way.

Patriots, Seahawks deliver another classic game and great finish

Patriots Seahawks Cam newton

The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks combined to give fans yet another fantastic game.

The Seahawks prevailed over the Patriots on “Sunday Night Football” in Seattle 35-30. They won the game with a defensive stop on a Cam Newton rush attempt near the goal line as time expired.

The ending was reminiscent of the Patriots’ 28-24 win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, which came down to a goal-line situation. Just when Seattle looked poised to win the game, they attempted a pass at the goal line that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler in the end zone to preserve the New England win.

This time around, the Patriots had the choice to make and put the ball in the hands of Newton. He had 47 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns and was successful all game on the quarterback power run. This time, the Seahawks stuffed him for a loss as he rushed to his left.

Newton played a really nice game otherwise. He was 30/44 for 397 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He got the team in position to win the game with a great 2-minute drill. New England got the ball at their 19 down by five with 1:42 left. They moved it 79 yards but fell short.

Newton’s primary weapon was Julian Edelman, who had 8 catches for 179 yards.

Cam’s counterpart, Russell Wilson, was spectacular for Seattle. He passed for 288 yards and five touchdowns and overcame a pick-six on Seattle’s opening possession. His touchdowns went to five different receivers. Safety acquisition Jamal Adams led the Seahawks’ defense with 10 tackles, a sack, and two quarterback hits.

Any time these teams want to meet for a game, fans will happily accept it. The only thing missing was the presence of James White, who is dealing with a family tragedy.

James White inactive after father Tyrone dies in car crash

James White

James White received some awful news on Sunday night regarding his parents.

The New England Patriots running back learned that his father Tyrone died in a car crash. His mother was also in the car for the crash and is in critical condition, South Florida radio host Andy Slater reports.

According to Slater, White’s father Tyrone was a captain with the Miami-Dad Police Department.

White was made inactive for the Patriots’ game against the Seattle Seahawks as a result. The 28-year-old grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Report: Browns are ‘adamant’ about not trading Odell Beckham Jr

Odell Beckham Jr

It only took one game this season for rumors to resurface that the Cleveland Browns are looking to trade Odell Beckham Jr. Once again, however, it appears the speculation is not based on anything coming from the team.

A Browns source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the team has been “adamant” about not trading Beckham.

“It’s totally not true,” the source said. “No idea where anyone would have gotten that.”

The latest report about Beckham being shopped came from WFAN’s Mike Francesa. While Beckham was speaking with the media about his and the Browns’ disappointing performance in their Week 1 blowout loss, Francesa tweeted that he heard Beckham is on the trade block. The longtime radio host even went as far as to say Cleveland’s asking price for Beckham is wildly high.

None of that is true, according to Schefter’s source. It wasn’t true when Beckham had just three catches for 22 yards in Cleveland’s embarrassing Week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, either. Beckham bounced back with four catches for 74 yards in Thursday night’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He scored a 43-yard touchdown and could have had another if not for a brutal missed pass interference call.

Beckham is under contract with the Browns through 2023. The trade rumors simply aren’t going away, and one recent report claimed it is only a matter of time before the two sides part ways.

ESPN reporter Maria Taylor addresses her egregious All-NBA voting error

Maria Taylor

ESPN reporter Maria Taylor addressed her egregious All-NBA voting error via Twitter on Saturday.

The NBA on Saturday released the official voting results from all the awards. One voting result that stood out was Taylor’s All-NBA ballot.

The ESPN reporter omitted Anthony Davis from her list. She even voted for Joel Embiid and Bam Adebayo at center over Davis. That made it pretty clear that she had just flat-out forgot about the Los Angeles Lakers big man.

After receiving attention for the issue, Taylor admitted that she had made a “mistake.”

The rest of Taylor’s ballot made plenty of sense. Here is what she had:

1st team: James Harden, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic

2nd Team: Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid

3rd Team: Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Khris Middleton, Pascal Siakam and Bam Adebayo

Leaving Davis off seemed like a clear oversight, because there is no way she would have Adebayo ahead of him otherwise.

This is the second time this week Taylor finds herself in the middle of a controversy. The last one drew some headlines as well.