MLB Network’s Braves documentary hits right notes, but skips one big question

In the 1991 World Series, the Braves had a 3-2 lead in the series, only to fall to the Twins in seven games. (Not to mention Lonnie Smith’s famous base running gaffe in Game 7 and that the team still failed to score off Jack Morris despite having runners on second and third with nobody out in the eighth.)

In the 1992 World Series, the Braves were two outs away from taking a 2-0 series lead against the Blue Jays, only to have Ed Sprague ruin everything with a two-run homer.

If the Rams finish 20th in the draft order next year and we don’t depreciate the pick’s value for time (both of which are perhaps conservative estimates), the Chase Stuart suggests the Chiefs picked up the 33rd selection in a typical draft for a 25-year-old former All-Pro cornerback on a below-market deal for the next two seasons.

While Kansas City clearly wanted to trade Peters, this is a price point at which the Chiefs probably needed to trust their ability to rehabilitate Peters and bring him back into the fold.

The Rams, meanwhile, get a B+ for their end of the bargain.

They probably need to start holding onto their draft picks after sending high selections out in the trades for Peters, Jared Goff, and Sammy Watkins, but they’re not incurring an enormous amount of risk in trading for Peters.

They can go year-to-year and pay the Washington product just $27.5 million over the next three seasons, which is less than inferior cornerbacks like Dre Kirkpatrick and Logan Ryan got in their free-agent deals last offseason.

Is it a feature or a bug? The jury is still out. Still, as a context-neutral stat, WAR is one of the best available to be used in evaluating players and player performance. Given its current trajectory, it might not long before WAR completely dominates MVP and Hall of Fame discussions.

But in the words of Bertrand Russell, “WAR does not determine who is right…” so don’t think that WAR is the be all end all to every statistical discussion.

(OK, Russell was talking about the shooty-shooty war, the point still stands.)

L.A. will have $6.5 million in dead money on its cap for Ogletree this year, but with $47.3 million in space, the Rams can use the savings to bring back receiver Sammy Watkins, who would otherwise be an unrestricted free agent.

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has helped develop unheralded inside linebackers such as Todd Davis and Brandon Marshall in years past, so the Rams might be able to get by without big-money players on the interior.packers_004



Yankees open to playing Russell Wilson in Grapefruit League game

Russell Wilson could soon be getting in on the spring training action.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on Tuesday said he’s open to the Seahawks quarterback getting the opportunity to play and take a couple swings in a Grapefruit League game.

Basically, owners decided they were determined to stop soaring free-agent costs, which meant that free agents received either zero interest from other teams or were only offered contracts at or below their previous salaries. Under the rules at the time, if a free agent didn’t re-sign with his previous team by Jan. 8, he couldn’t negotiate with that team again until April ended.

With no options, free agents reacted in a wide variety of ways. Bob Horner, at 29 years old and coming off back-to-back 27-homer seasons, went to play in Japan. Andre Dawson famously gave the Cubs a blank check and let them write in his 1987 salary (the Cubs gave him less than half of his 1986 salary). Lance Parrish took $400,000 less than the Tigers were offering in arbitration to sign with the Phillies. Jack Morris was considered maybe baseball’s best pitcher, but he received zero offers outside of returning to Detroit and re-upped with the Tigers a couple days before Christmas 1986.

In his second MLB season, Gurriel, 33, slashed .299/.332/.486 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs. Gurriel broke into the majors in 2016 after defecting from Cuba that year, but played in just 36 games. Last season, however, he appeared in 139 games while becoming an integral part of the Astros lineup.

Manager A.J. Hinch told reporters Wednesday that he wasn’t sure how long Gurriel would need to recover.

“I’m not sure, we don’t really know until he gets through the surgery and we get to meet with the doctors to find out what’s next for him, so I don’t have a timeline,” Hinch said (via MLB.com).

In Gurriel’s absence this spring, Tyler White, A.J. Reed and J.D. Davis will get time at first base, Hinch said. Utility player Marwin Gonzalez played 31 games at first last season.seahawks_107_7ca2290b1fa37517-180x180



Why Sherman would make sense: Ed Werder linked Marshawn Lynch to Sherman last year when the Seahawks were considering trading Sherman.

Richard Sherman ’s career in Seattle looks like it’s over . Unless he decides to return to the Seahawks with a new, cheaper contract , he’ll likely be playing for a new team next season. But which team would be the best fit for the veteran cornerback?

Lynch is under contract with the Raiders through the 2018 season, so there’s still a chance he reunites with Sherman in Oakland. Sherman could fill a legitimate need in Oakland.

Welcome to the first edition of Ask Jason, what may or may not be a recurring column in which I answer questions from readers about baseball or whatever other topics they choose.

I put the word out on Twitter and received what’s best described as a smattering of interest. But, hey, it’s a start. So let’s see how this goes. On to the questions …

I don’t think the Phillies are getting off easy. They’re in the middle of a rebuild, and though the end is in sight, there’s no need for them to spend big right now. They have some exciting young players to build around, most notably Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco, and most observers agree that things will be rockin’ in Philly by 2019 or 2020 (or maybe even sooner, according to SN contributor Jared Wyllys) with some strategic additions. Plus, there’s still talk that they’re after Jake Arrieta to help shore up their rotation, and they did sign Carlos Santana. So I don’t think they’ve done anything to warrant harsh criticism over spending.

Talib, however, is 32 years old. Parting ways with him saves the Broncos $11 million this year and $20 million in future salaries. It likely wasn’t a surprise for Talib, who tweeted “who’s coming to get me??” after an NFL.com report said the Broncos were looking to move him.

What does this mean for the Rams? It means that every quarterback who has to face Los Angeles this year ought to be worried. Talib paired with Marcus Peters and Lamarcus Joyner, who was just tagged by the Rams, makes that backfield awfully fierce.

The Rams defense was solid last year under Phillips. But this offseason has already seen several big moves from the Rams — trading with the Chiefs to acquire Peters , slapping the tag on Joyner , sending Robert Quinn to the Dolphins , bringing in Talib, signing Sam Shields , and shipping Alec Ogletree off to the Giants .seahawks_107_7ca2290b1fa37517-180x180



Kyrie Irving explains ‘bond that can’t be broken’ with LeBron James, Kevin Love

An intriguing storyline coming out of the NBA All-Star Game draft is the reunion of former teammates Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love.

It was an intentional move from James, who drafted his own team in the new All-Star format. He selected Irving as a starter and Love as a reserve, which marks the first time the three players will be together since Irving requested a trade away from the Cavaliers over the summer.

The trio played together for three seasons (2014-2017) in Cleveland, and made it to the NBA Finals each of those years. However, many wondered whether James would select Irving for his All-Star team.
I get asked a lot about how the game has changed for me under Brad Stevens compared to my time at Brose Bamberg. Both Stevens and my former coach Andrea Trinchieri are real perfectionists in terms of basketball. Both live the game to the fullest and think of seemingly nothing else, 24/7. Both have a very similar approach to the game, mainly considering ball movement.

Defensively, both are open to trying new things and cross-matches, like putting Al Horford on Ben Simmons and the like. Andrea tried similar things to cause problems for the opposing offense. Therefore, there hasn’t been that much change for myself. My role is very similar: play defense, provide energy, rebound, run the court, pick and roll, catch and shoot. I think I have done quite well in the NBA so far, and my goal is obviously to continue to get better in every single facet of the game!

Ball will be joined on the U.S. roster by teammates Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma along with 2017 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, Celtics forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Bulls guard Kris Dunn, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. and Hawks center John Collins.

Joining Simmons (Australia) and Embiid (Cameroon) on the World roster are fellow Sixer Dario Saric (Croatia), Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen (Finland), Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania), Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (Canada), Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (France), Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (Canada) and Kings guards Buddy Hield (Bahamas) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia).

On the other side of the ice, Anaheim has almost everyone back after skating through the season’s first half with a mixture of role players and guys who figured to be spending the winter playing for its AHL team in San Diego.lions_032



How should you approach power in your fantasy baseball draft?

We’re seeing historic power numbers in Major League Baseball these days, and as fantasy managers, that impacts our strategy. How does the recent power surge in baseball change your approach to drafts?

So how am I drafting with this knowledge? I want power where others lack it: Middle infield. There were only seven middle infielders (eight if you want to count Manny Machado) to record 25 round-trippers, so my thought process is that I can overextend a bit in an effort to get two of those guys and thus get significant value later in the draft when an Adam Eaton-type falls because the other managers need to bolster their power numbers.

If you’re looking for one general piece of advice, it’d be to not treat speed and power the same. A specialist like Billy Hamilton or a pair of 25-30-steal types can really carry you on the steals front, but you need to have pop up and down your lineup, even if you kick off your draft with someone like Giancarlo Stanton.

Future talent: 45 percent. For this category, we used a combination of the ZiPS projections for the minor league systems and Keith Law’s 2018 farm system rankings, in order to get the best of both man and machine. Farm systems are as important for contenders as rebuilders, given that nobody has enough money to obtain all of their needs by spending alone.

Financial support: 20 percent. Poorer teams and/or teams in smaller markets do have the ability to compete in baseball, but we’d be lying to ourselves if we didn’t say that financial support of a team was just “nice to have.” Teams are ranked by their historical payrolls relative to revenue and market size.

Front office/ownership: 10 percent. Given its share, this category mostly functions as a tiebreaker for teams that are otherwise close. That’s not to say these things aren’t important, but a lot of front-office performance is already contained within the first three categories.

Jordan doesn’t fit that bill as he’s set for free agency after this season. However, the report suggests this pick would be in play if Cleveland is offered a younger player with multiple years of team control.

NBA franchises and internet draftniks alike are often consumed with the search for basketball’s next unicorn. The league’s newest future 3-point shooting rim protector has the potential to be a game changer in the small-ball era, allowing yet another roster to play big defensively while maintaining the offensive advantages of going small.lions_088



The biggest freak athletes at the 2018 NFL combine

As 2018 NFL draft prospects engage in drills and tests at the scouting combine in Indianapolis this week, let’s take a look at five players with the extreme skills and athleticism to turn heads:

Jackson reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.3s in the spring of 2017 and low 4.4s in the spring of 2016. Michael Vick ran a 4.33 at his pro day, and like Vick, Jackson has excellent arm strength. All of this, of course, assumes the Vikings don’t sign Cousins. If they break the bank for a quarterback, I’d change my answer to Cousins.

Schatz: Keenum. My guess is that other teams will look at Keenum and say, Yes, he had one fantastic year, but what is his regression going to look like in our system? The Vikings are the one team that can look at Keenum and know they have seen evidence he can play well for them. In the same system with the same teammates, there’s a better chance he can continue to play at 2017’s high level.

The Ohio State product had to come off the field in the opening quarter to have a member of the team’s medical staff put the finger back into place.

He played the rest of the season with the injury, taping two fingers together. It had no impact on his performance, as Bosa finished with 10.5 sacks in 12 games, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Bosa decided against having surgery to repair the injury during the offseason last year because by the time he got his finger examined after the season was over, the recovery period from surgery would have taken too much time away from his training.

Bosa’s recovery will take about six weeks, so it could affect how much he can do once the Chargers’ offseason program begins in April.

Bosa made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his second NFL season last year, leading the Chargers with 12.5 sacks. Bosa also recorded 70 tackles and four forced fumbles.patriots_029



Simmons’ late FTs gives 76ers 116-115 win over Bulls

Ben Simmons couldn’t recall winning a game from the free throw line at any level before Thursday night.

Still, the rookie stepped to the line with the confidence of a veteran.

“First of all, we needed a steal,” Simmons said. “I saw Joel get it and he kind of lobbed it to me.”

Portis had a chance for a game winner, but his short attempt — with Embiid closing from the weak side — just missed.

In May, Cuban said the Mavericks looked to lose as much as they could at the end of last season once the team was out of postseason contention. Dallas finished with the ninth-worst record in the NBA and didn’t improve its draft position through the lottery.

The Mavericks (18-40) have the third-worst record in the NBA but are among a logjam of seven teams with fewer than 20 wins. The team with the worst record will have a 25 percent chance of making the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

Starting with the 2019 draft, the three teams with the worst records will share a 14 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick, lessening the incentive to lose at the end of the season.

Hornacek choosing to start the 21-year-old Mudiay rather than Ntilikina is perhaps an indication that the coaching staff doesn’t believe Ntilikina is ready to handle a starter’s role.

Hornacek said Wednesday that Ntilikina, 19, had felt knee pain in recent weeks as his body grew accustomed to the NBA schedule. The coach also said Ntilikina felt significant fatigue at times recently, which is common for a rookie.

They also believe Burke, 25, can play both guard spots alongside Ntilikina, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, and Mudiay. Hornacek said Tuesday that he may change his lineups occasionally to see which groupings thrive together.

In addition to the young guards, wings Damyean Dotson and Troy Williams and big men Luke Kornet and Isaiah Hicks will likely play more often in coming games.jays_560_b73b09857ae124df-180x180



Trail Blazers take on skidding Suns

Portland had little trouble with the hottest team in the NBA on Friday.

Next up, the coldest.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 50 points and six 3-pointers when the Trail Blazers limited Utah to 17 points in each of the final three quarters in an 100-81 victory Friday.

The Blazers (33-26) never trailed while breaking the Jazz’s 11-game winning streak.

Next up, a team that never led.

Phoenix gave up the first 19 points and trailed 24-2 six minutes into a 128-117 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. It was never that close.

The Raptors trailed 110-108 with 3.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter after Middleton split a pair of free throws. Following a timeout, Toronto inbounded the ball to Valanciunas, who paused before driving for the tying dunk.

Toronto scored the first five points of the extra session, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Terry and Middleton capped an 8-0 Bucks run, giving Milwaukee a 118-115 lead with 1:58 left.

Valanciunas stopped the run with a dunk, but Antetokounmpo’s jumper with 13 seconds left put the Bucks up 120-117.

Home-field advantage has reigned supreme as of late, but that hasn’t always been the case, by any stretch:

This will be 4th Super Bowl in last 5 seasons to feature two No. 1 seeds. From 1994-2012, No. 1 seeds met in Super Bowl in only 1 of 19 seasons.

Home teams have always had an advantage when it comes to the playoffs. They are 89-53 in the Wild Card Round (0.627), 152-62 in the Divisional Round (0.710), and 94-46 in the conference championships (0.671). There are few reasons to explain why:

But none of that really explains why top-seeded teams are cruising through competition now more than ever. In the last five years, home teams are 35-15 (0.700) in the playoffs and the 2016 Cowboys are the only No. 1 seed to go down early.bears_091-223x223



Randle stars, Ball returns in Lakers’ 124-102 win over Mavs

Julius Randle had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists and rookie Lonzo Ball made a triumphant return to the lineup as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Dallas Mavericks 124-102 on Friday night.

It alleged Smith received $43,500 and was loaned another $73,500. Said Smith at the morning shootaround: “I’m a firm believer in God and everything happens for a reason. Whether it’s going to strengthen you or destroy you, you make that decision. But since I’ve been here, it’s been a class organization from top to bottom, starting with Mark Cuban and all the way down to players like myself. It’s been great, fantastic. I’m here to play basketball. Everything else to me is just noise and I have to block all that out.”

Lakers: The Yahoo Sports report also said rookie forward Kyle Kuzma received $3,000 and $6,500 in loans. Kuzma would not say prior to the game whether the story was accurate. “Hmm, I’m not going to say anything really,” he said. “Just gathering information about it and whatnot.” He called it a legal matter, though he did not believe he was in jeopardy. “I don’t know. I don’t think so,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying to gather information about everything. It is a federal investigation the NCAA is dealing with.” Kuzma did say the story was a distraction. “Yeah, for sure,” he said. “It’s the NBA right now and we’re focusing on trying to win games, and things like this come about, it’s definitely a little distraction.”

Teammates, coaches and athletic trainers tended to Butler for at least three minutes before he was carried off the court by two teammates. He was unable to put any weight on the leg as he was helped to the locker room.

Butler was seen hopping on one foot in the Toyota Center hallway as he headed to get an X-ray. Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said early evaluations by the team’s medical staff were inconclusive and that Butler will undergo an MRI on Saturday when the team gets back to Minnesota.

“You’ve got to wait for the doctors to do their thing,” Thibodeau said. “Until they do the MRI, it’s speculating. We’ll know more tomorrow. I don’t want to speculate on what it might be, but we’ll just hope for the best.”

Butler did not speak to reporters after the game but was in high spirits, according to multiple teammates. He also was visited in the training room by Rockets guard James Harden.jaguars_005-223x223



Philadelphia police expect more arrests from Super Bowl celebration mayhem

patriots_086_aa4196cc08ec6837-180x180Eagles fans went wild following the team’s first Super Bowl victory, lighting fires and causing other damage in downtown Philadelphia, but as of Monday afternoon, police had only arrested four individuals.

Police commissioner Richard Ross told Philly.com he expects that number to grow, after officials finish reviewing video, social media posts, and other evidence.

“I’m disappointed that some of these idiots… chose to live up to a reputation that is not deserved on the part of 98 percent of our fans,” Ross said.

But the Philadelphia Fire Department kept everything in perspective in announcing its daily statistics for the entire city. “February 4 daily totals: 781 EMS incidents, 153 fire Incidents, 7 structure fires, 1 Super Bowl championship.”

The Jets are always interested in adding cornerstones to their defense, and Key should fit right in with Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams to give the team one of the rising defensive units in the game, provided the Jets aren’t scared away by his off-field red flags.

Trump continued. “Though many of our Nation’s service members are unable to be home with family and friends to enjoy this evening’s American tradition, they are always in our thoughts and prayers. We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending our liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner. We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the National Anthem.

“We send our best wishes for an enjoyable Super Bowl Sunday. May God bless and protect our troops, and may he continue to bless the United States of America.”

President Trump has been relentless on the issue and even mentioned the subject during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. When talking about a young boy who decorated veteran’s graves with flags, Trump said, it’s “why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”