Justin Tuck: Jason Pierre-Paul “fine” but knows he “made a mistake”

Posted by Darin Gantt on July 20, 2015, 1:29 PM EDT

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Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul kept the Giants away, and didn’t even talk to his teammates after losing a finger in a July 4th fireworks accident.

But former teammate Justin Tuck said he’s spoken with Pierre-Paul, and he’s confident the loss of his right index finger won’t harm his career.

“What I told JPP is go out and play football. I’ve been in constant conversation with JPP,” Tuck said, via Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. “He is [in good spirits]. He’ll be the first one to tell you he made a mistake. He’s fine. He’s going to have a great year. . . .

“I think he will be [successful]. Once he gets used to playing again, you can’t deny his athletic ability. He’s a terror to block. Hopefully everything else gets healthy around him and if that is the case, I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be the JPP of the second half of the season like he was last year.”

Of course, the Giants don’t have first-person knowledge of that, since he didn’t let head athletic trainer Ronnie Barnes or team player-liasion Jessie Armstead in to see him at the hospital.

But he might have since made contact with the team, and other teammates expressed similar confidence he’d be OK.

“I’ve seen him do some ridiculous things with 10 fingers, I’m sure he can do some ridiculous things with nine fingers,” linebacker Mark Herzlich said. “He’s going to be able to.”

That part remains to be seen. But if Pierre-Paul is communicating with friends and teammates and his team, it’s likely a positive step for him.

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Len Kasper does not care if you think he jinxed a no-hitter

Jon Lester

Cubs announcer Len Kasper — like every announcer in the history of baseball — will mention it when a pitcher has a no-hitter going. Because providing information to viewers is his job. As this story over at Awful Announcing makes clear, he has no intention of stopping simply because certain fans complain about it. He even has some backing — from over 50 years ago — from Vin Scully on the matter.

The no-hitter jinx thing is dumb for two reasons. First because of what Kasper says: it’s his JOB to keep people updated on what’s going in.

But it’s also dumb because it actually requires the person concerned about jinxes to believe that a person who is not otherwise involved in the game can affect its outcome based on his words. As if the fans aren’t talking about it. Or all of us bloggers who are posting in-progress updates and all of the TV networks doing “live look-ins” aren’t talking about too. Indeed, the only people who don’t, as a general rule, talk about it are the people in the actual dugout of the pitcher who has a no-hitter in progress. And at least that much makes sense because the pitcher could be influenced by that a bit and maybe start to get too inside his head or out of his routine.

Of course, such is the case with just about every superstition. But people won’t shake them because people, as a rule, are silly.

In any event, there have been close to 300 no-hitters in baseball history. Someone mentioned the fact that the no-hitter was in progress for every single one of them, I’ll bet my life on it. Yet they still happened. So chill out, OK?

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Report: Ravens, Texans among teams interested in Reggie Wayne

Posted by Josh Alper on July 20, 2015, 9:11 AM EDT

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Last week, Reggie Wayne said that he’s heard from several teams about the possibility of joining them this year and that he plans to play a final NFL season in 2015.

Wayne didn’t name any of the teams that he’s been in contact with, but Dave Furst of RTV6 in Indianapolis reports that the Ravens, Texans, Patriots and Packers are all on the list of teams in touch with the wide receiver. Furst also adds that the Broncos, who employ Wayne’s longtime Colts teammate Peyton Manning, “have backed off.”

It’s hard to see where the Packers would have room for Wayne in a receiving corps that already features Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and third-round pick Ty Montgomery. Wayne brings veteran expertise to the table, but he doesn’t play special teams and that makes it hard to keep him as a reserve when more versatile options are available. The same issue would seem to work against Wayne in Houston and New England, although Bill Belichick has never been shy about bringing in players he’s faced for years if he thinks there’s a chance they can upgrade the Patriots roster.

The Ravens took Breshad Perriman in the first round of this year’s draft and he’s bidding for a starting job, but the Ravens could opt to double down on veteran mentors for the rookie by signing Wayne to go with Steve Smith. We’ll see soon if any of this reported interest leads to a job for Wayne, who ranks eighth all-time in receiving yards.

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The Tigers have inquired about John Axford

John Axford

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are among the teams that have inquired about Rockies closer John Axford. He adds, however, that the fumbling Tigers — who lost to the Orioles on Sunday — may not necessarily be buyers with their 45-46, third-place record.

Axford, 32, has missed time during the season to be with his son, who suffered rattlesnake bites in March. The Rockies didn’t intend to have Axford serve as the closer, but Rafael Betancourt struggled and his replacement, Adam Ottavino, quickly suffered a season-ending injury. Nevertheless, Axford has excelled this season, earning the save in 16 of 17 opportunities with a 2.36 ERA and a 25/11 K/BB ratio in 26 2/3 innings.

Axford is owed the remainder of his $2.6 million salary and will be eligible for arbitration for the final time after the season.

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Tags: Adam Ottavino, Colorado Rockies, John Axford, Rafael Betancourt

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Peyton Manning visits Chattanooga military center

Posted by Mike Florio on July 20, 2015, 12:31 AM EDT

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On Thursday, a gunman shot and killed four U.S. Marines at the Naval Marine Corps Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A fifth victim died Saturday.

On Saturday night, one of Tennessee’s favorite adopted sons showed up to visit military personnel and police officers at the facility.

WRCB-TV reports that Manning indeed visited the Reserve Center, and that multiple photos documenting the visit showed up on social media.

A New Orleans native, Manning played college football at the University of Tennessee before embarking on a professional career that began in Indianapolis 17 years ago, and that continued in Denver three years ago.

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Bryce Harper not impressed by Zack Greinke: “I don’t think he was very tough.”

Bryce Harper

Zack Greinke is all the rage, as he’s two scoreless starts away from matching or exceeding Orel Hershiser’s major league record of 59 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. He increased his streak to 43 2/3 innings — the longest such streak since Hershiser — with eight terrific innings against Bryce Harper and the Nationals on Sunday, out-dueling Max Scherzer.

Greinke has been baseball’s best starter to date, and Harper has been baseball’s best hitter this season. So it was a veritable clash of the titans and Greinke ultimately won out as Harper went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk against him. Harper still wasn’t impressed by Greinke, however. Via CSN Washington’s Chase Hughes:

“I think he was okay. When you’re getting five to six inches off of the plate, you better win the game,” Harper said. “For me, I don’t think he was very tough. He’s a great pitcher, he does what he does, but when you’re getting six inches off the plate it’s pretty tough to face him.”

Harper did acknowledge Greinke’s prowess, calling him a “damn good pitcher”, but admitted that he doesn’t watch Greinke with any regularity, suggesting the media ask someone on the West coast instead.

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Tags: Bryce Harper, Los Angeles Dodgers, Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, Zack Greinke

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Trump passed on buying Pats in 1988 (as if he had a chance)

Posted by Mike Florio on July 20, 2015, 12:09 AM EDT

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There’s a new politician with a five-letter name who provokes plenty of four-letter words. More than a generation ago, he nearly made himself the potential target of plenty of four-letter words with a little Southie flair.

Via Boston.com, the Boston Globe reported in 1988 that Donald Trump passed on buying the Patriots because his financial advisors told him that the team had too much debt. And so Victor Kiam bought the franchise for $85 million, six years before the Krafts acquired the Patriots.

It’s an intriguing story given Trump’s notoriety and nascent presidential campaign, short-lived as it ultimately may be (I’m surely not the only one who hopes he makes it to at least one debate during the primaries). But let’s be realistic about Trump’s chances to acquire the Patriots in 1988.

It was only two years after Trump spearheaded the USFL’s antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. With others willing and able to buy the Patriots, the chances of Trump getting at least 21 of the then-28 owners to approve the acquisition would have been even longer than his current chances of turning 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into the Trump House.

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Michael Cuddyer may need to go on the disabled list

Michael Cuddyer

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer left Sunday’s game with a leg injury. The official diagnosis is a bone bruise below his knee, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reports. He may need to go on the disabled list, but Cuddyer says it won’t be a season-ending injury. ESPN’s Adam Rubin adds that Mets trainers will try one last medicinal fix in an effort to keep him off of the DL.

Cuddyer, 36, has been battling the issue for a while, playing no small part in his disappointing numbers. He entered play Sunday hitting .249/.298/.381 with eight home runs and 30 RBI in 309 plate appearances.

It’s not known yet what the Mets would do to account for an extended absence, but there have already been calls for the club to promote top prospect Michael Conforto. Conforto, 22, was taken by the Mets 10th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft. In 378 PA between Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, he has hit .301/.373/.488 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI.

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Tags: Michael Cuddyer, New York Mets

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NFL has been avoiding Friday bad news dumps, sort of

Posted by Mike Florio on July 19, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

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The NFL privately bristles at the notion that it strategically dumps bad news on Friday afternoons. Setting aside for now the question of whether it makes sense to dump bad news on Friday afternoons (and it does), the NFL in recent years actually has used the tactic somewhat sparingly.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe has compiled a list of several significant instances in the past year of NFL bad news and when it was announced. Let’s look at each one.

First, it’s important to remember a couple of examples predating Volin’s list. In 2012, the NFL disclosed for the first time the existence of an alleged Saints bounty scandal during a very late Friday afternoon in March. Two years later, Ted Wells released his report regarding the bullying of Jonathan Martin late on a Friday morning.

Volin first points out that the initial Ray Rice two-game suspension came on Thursday, July 24, at 1:12 p.m. ET. For those sensitive to the perception of dumping bad news on a Friday, Thursday has become the new Friday; it’s possible the NFL specifically picked Thursday for the Rice suspension to put it late in the week but not so late that jerks like me would cry, “Bad news dump!”

(The embarrassing Ray and Janay Rice press conference at Ravens headquarters, during which she publicly apologized for her role in getting knocked out, occurred late on a Friday afternoon at the start of Memorial Day weekend in 2014. It was perhaps the worst time to have a press conference if the goal was to have people notice — and the best time to have a press conference if the goal was to have people not notice. People still noticed.)

The Ray Rice indefinite suspension came on Monday, September 8, but only because video of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée emerged that same day. (The Ravens cut Rice at nearly the same time the league suspended him indefinitely.)

Adrian Peterson’s suspension came on Tuesday, November 18. Still, the decision to shut Peterson down early in the week likely was influenced by the reality that, if a player is going to be suspended during the season, it needs to happen before Wednesday morning, when preparations begin in earnest for the next game. Peterson had resolved his criminal case, and the league couldn’t continue to park him on the paid leave list without the whole thing smelling even worse than it already did.

The 243-page Ted Wells #DeflateGate report emerged on a Wednesday afternoon in May, but the Wells report doesn’t really amount to “bad news,” per se. Everyone already knew about the controversy; this was the NFL’s chance to expose its findings that cheating occurred, and the midweek release gave talking heads a chance to digest the most obvious stuff pointing to cheating. Closer analysis that exposed the many flaws in the report came later, with many (like me) first figuring out that something was fishy during the ensuing weekend.

Tom Brady’s four-game suspension came the following Monday. On one hand, time was of the essence, especially turning the focus to the suspension tapped the brakes on the process of picking apart the Wells report. (The picking apart would nevertheless continue.) On the other hand, the announcement came at the close of business on Monday, not first thing in the morning. If the league had picked the latter, the Brady suspension would have dominated the entire day.

The most glaring example of a bad news dump in recent months came on Thursday, July 2, the last workday before the Fourth of July holiday. While Volin mentions only the Antonio Gates four-game PED suspension, the NFL dropped a quartet of suspensions into a two-hour window, with Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain, Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, and Packers linebacker Datone Jones also being suspended, each for violations of the substance-abuse policy. That clearly wasn’t a coincidence.

Most recently, the NFL announced the final ruling in the Greg Hardy suspension on Friday, July 11 at 2:20 p.m., not so late that it was an obvious bad-news dump but clearly on the day when it makes sense to dump bad news.

Of course it makes sense to dump bad news on a Friday afternoon. That’s why the NFL’s objection to the perception is so odd. Everyone with any real P.R. savvy puts bad news on a Friday afternoon and good news on a Monday morning.

Maybe the real story is that the NFL has had so much bad news in recent years that people now notice when bad news comes on a Friday afternoon.

The good news is that none of the bad news has short-circuited the cash register.

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Dallas Keuchel shuts down the Rangers after they “disrespected” the Astros on Saturday

Dallas Keuchel

The Astros’ and Rangers’ benches cleared on Saturday after Hank Conger and Rougned Odor exchanged words. Conger felt Odor was taking too long to get into the batter’s box, and things escalated from there. There was some shoving, but nothing serious.

Keuchel, however, felt Odor disrespected the Astros (per Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle), so he went out and tossed seven shutout innings with 13 strikeouts on Sunday, allowing only two hits while refusing to issue a walk. The lefty now sports a 12-4 record with a 2.12 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a 127/34 K/BB ratio in 144 1/3 innings. Keuchel remains the American League leader in ERA and moves into the league lead in wins.

The takeaway may be that giving Keuchel bulletin board material may be a bad idea.

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Tags: Hank Conger, Houston Astros, Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers

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