Blog Home » Archives for May 2017


‘Boys will be boys’ is big problem for Major League Baseball

By DERON SNYDER

After Bryce Harper and San Francisco’s Hunter Strickland squared off during Monday’s game, Nationals manager Dusty Baker defended his outfielder’s decision to charge the mound in response to being hit by a 98-mph fastball.

“It looked intentional to me,” Baker told reporters. “What’s a man supposed to do?”

Phrasing the question like that implies there’s one answer with no viable alternative – at least for a “real” man. But Harper admitted he had a choice in the matter: “You either go to first base, or you go after him,” he told reporters. “And I decided to go after him.”

I understand why batters get upset when they’re plunked on purpose. Asking them to grin-and-bear it 100 percent of the time is asking them to be robots. If that were the case, fastballs wouldn’t hurt.

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NFL insults our intelligence in explaining Kaepernick’s unemployment

By DERON SNYDER

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is insistent. Colin Kaepernick’s continued unemployment is due to each organization weighing the quarterback solely on merit and potential – nothing else. Goodell made the assertion two months ago at the owners meetings and reiterated it last week.

“It’s the same thing I said before, which is each team makes individual decisions about how they can improve their team,” he told Pro Football Talk. “And if they see an opportunity to improve their team, I think they do it. They evaluate players, they evaluate systems and coaches, and they all make those individuals decisions to try to improve their team.”

If you say Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem have nothing to do with his failure to find a job, you sound dumber than Goodell.

The value and scarcity of good quarterbacks have never been greater. As a result, numerous contracts have been signed by the halfway decent and totally inept. Only 14 QBs have compiled a higher career rating than Kaepernick (88.9) since 2011. Yet, he’s unworthy to be a backup?

There’s no need for a charade. Holding his kneeldowns against him is exceedingly weak, but NFL brass should be big enough to admit their flawed logic and take the beatdown they deserve.

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We can only imagine what #KD2DC would’ve looked like

By DERON SNYDER

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;   

     If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 

     And treat those two impostors just the same”

Including the one-word title, “if” appears 14 times in the classic 1895 poem by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling. The piece is a favorite among organizations that administer mentoring programs, rites-of-passage, etc., attempting to instill values like composure, perseverance and humility.

But “if” has a different purpose in sports, where’s it’s a highway for could’ve-would’ve-should’ve. That usage gives us endless opportunities to talk about teams and players at sports bars, on sports radio and in sports columns.

There’s no way to prove or disprove the arguments and their speculative suppositions. No one knows for sure the outcome of something that didn’t happen. Yet, some of our favorite discussions are based on conjecture when the topic is sports. Maybe you’ve heard this one from time to time:

“If Kevin Durant had signed with the Wizards …”

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Cavs-Warriors entree well worth the wait through playoff appetizers

By DERON SNYDER

Do you know what’s been more entertaining than the NBA playoffs this season?

Folks complaining that the NBA playoffs have lacked entertainment this season.

There are too many blowouts, they gripe. The series have been boring, they whine. No one can beat Cleveland or Golden State, they moan.

The last grievance has tremendous comedic value. A third consecutive NBA Finals matchup between the Cavaliers and Warriors was practically preordained entering the season. Virtually everyone predicted that those teams would represent their respective conferences again, giving us an unprecedented Finals trilogy.

We knew this was coming, knew the teams arguably have six Top 20-players, knew LeBron James and Kevin Durant are on missions.

So why all the carping?

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Nationals not close to having championship-caliber closer

By DERON SNYDER

Nationals fans are forgiven if they have experienced recurring nightmares since 2012, bad dreams that start the same way every time, when the outfield door swings open.

The ghastly visions started after the National League Division Series against St. Louis. They were resurrected in the 2014 NLDS against the Giants and reinforced in the NLDS last year against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite all the success Washington has enjoyed while winning three of the last five NL East titles – usually with sold relief pitching along the way – postseason failure always has been a call (to the bullpen) away.

First it was Drew Storen imploding with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 5, as the Cardinals went from two runs behind to two runs ahead. He coughed up another ninth-inning lead a couple years later and the Nats headed to San Francisco trailing 2-0 in the series. Multiple sets of goat horns were distributed in the 2016 playoff finale; the bullpen inherited a 1-1 game that ended as a 4-3 loss.

So, excuse anyone who’s on edge about the Nats’ current situation when starters depart and relievers enter. Those worries typically don’t surface until October rolls around!

Reaching the playoffs is a pretty good proposition right now. The Nats entered Wednesday with baseball’s best record, playing in a dreadful division where the nearest contenders are nine games behind.

Washington’s offense has absorbed the loss of center fielder Adam Eaton and leads the majors in hitting, runs, RBI, slugging, on-base percentage and a slew of other categories. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman and right fielder Bryce Harper are battling one another for the Triple Crown. Even Michael Taylor, the lineup’s weak link, has heated up, batting .381 with two homers and six RBI in his last six games.

Determining the batting order isn’t the problem for manager Dusty Baker. It’s finding the pitcher(s) capable of taking the ball in late innings and preserving that evening’s handiwork.

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No boundaries, no restraints and no shame to NCAA money game

By DERON SNYDER

I suppose there’s no limit, no amount that might make the NCAA pause and reconsider its depravity. Everything concerning adults’ salaries, merchandising deals and TV revenue is based on free-market forces, a bedrock American principle that works great for schools, conferences, coaches and administrators.

Even better for those entities, player expenses are fixed at artificial rates, held firm by a diabolical scheme that makes Good Fellas seem like choirboys. With the racket’s continued ability to hide in plain sight, under the heartless veil of “amateurism,” there’s more loot for the bosses to take, make and keep.

It’s an offer they can’t refuse.

That’s why there was no objection from the status quo Friday when USA Today reported Big 10 Conference commissioner Jim Delaney is due a $20 million bonus. The news undoubtedly sparked visions among other conference commissioners and their deputies, who imagined what they’ll buy when the trickle-down reaches their direct deposits.

The same hidden grins surely occurred earlier this month, when Alabama football coach Nick Saban signed an extension that pays him $11 million this season. Coaches across the nation secretly broke into high-fives and backflips, knowing that a rising Tide lifts all foes. Assistants on Saban’s staff didn’t have to wait for the undulation.

They felt the ripples immediately.

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‘House’ rules in effect as John Wall, Bradley Beal force a Game 7

By DERON SNYDER

Heavy is the head that wears the superstar crown. Trying to put on one isn’t easy, either.

One night after MVP-candidate James Harden was a no-show at home in a Game 6 that ended Houston’s season, John Wall took his star turn on the national stage. It didn’t start well, as the Wizards’ point guard missed eight of his nine shots in the first half.

But that didn’t matter.

“If I go 1-for-30, that’s the way I have to go out,” he said after nailing the game’s biggest shot. His three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left gave Washington a thrilling 92-91 victory over the Celtics to force a Game 7 in Boston.

Wall refused to let the Wizards end another playoff series at home. The team’s heart, soul and emotional leader jumped atop the scorer’s table at the final buzzer and let the Verizon Center crowd know exactly where they were:

The House of Guards.

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Caps’ unwelcome visitors make themselves at home, again

By DERON SNYDER

Hello, doubts.

Hello questions, worries and fears.

We would say “Welcome.” But it wouldn’t be heartfelt.

No one in the DMV wanted to see you again. You’ve become all too familiar around here.

You swoop in every spring, like a bunch of tourists gawking at the monuments. But instead of clogging the roads, sidewalks and Metro, your congestion attacks our hopes, dreams and aspirations.

We thought you might  be a no-show this year when the Capitals rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to tie their series with the hated Pittsburgh Penguins. We thought the Caps finally dissuaded you from coming after they outclassed the defending Stanley Cup champs in back-to-back playoff games.

Continue reading …

Wizards leave fight at home, hope for return flight to Boston

By DERON SNYDER

The Wizards’ loss Wednesday in Boston wasn’t as devastating as the Capitals’ loss that night at Verizon Center. But the Wizards’ defeat in Game 5 felt just as bad as their co-tenants’ season-ender in Game 7.

Just in case a particular slice of NBA history was unbeknown, every media outlet has blasted it ever since Washington evened matters with the Celtics: The winner of Game 5 in a 2-2 series proceeds to win the series 83 percent of the time.

First things first, though. The Game 7 that the Wizards wanted no part of when they headed to Boston, has vaulted to the top of their wish list. They just need the series to hold form once more – Friday – in order to break it Monday by winning on the road. Neither team this season has accomplished that feat.

The Wizards seemed poised to do so, arriving at TD Garden after back-to-back blowouts in D.C. Surely sleeping in their own beds, driving their own cars and being in their own environment couldn’t make that much of a difference. They were so much better than Boston in winning Games 3 and 4, and almost prevailing in Games 1 and 2.

Wrong, wronger and wrongest.

They were supposed to be beyond what transpired Wednesday, a 123-101 walloping in which their final lead was 4-2. Washington trailed by 12 points after the first quarter and never drew closer. The deficit ballooned to 26 points in the second half. Thoughts of an inspired comeback departed quicker than the Celtics on leakouts.

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LaVar Ball has questionable approach but admirable goal

By DERON SNYDER

The term “crazy” is thrown around a lot these days.

A plethora of armchair psychologists offer instant diagnoses on criminals and celebrities, pitchers and presidents. I’m as guilty as anyone, too easily applying the label to individuals who demonstrate egregious behavior that’s far from the norm.

In rare and extraordinary cases with serious consequences at stake, real doctors might offer public opinions on, say, a certain newsmaker they believe is psychotic and suffering from malignant narcissism. But sharing such analyses are frowned upon in the medical community and happen infrequently, leaving us laymen to reach our own conclusions.

Such as: “LaVar Ball must be crazy.”

What other explanation is there? The father of likely top-three NBA draft pick Lonzo Ball has launched the Big Baller Brand ZO2 sneakers and priced them at $495. That’s just nuts, right?

“I figure that’s what the shoe is worth,” he said Friday on ESPN Radio. “When you are your own owner you can come up with any price you want.”

The shoes might not be the most outrageous product in the Triple B catalog. A pair of shower sandals will set you back $220. Ball has a reason for that, too: “Prada and Gucci is selling theirs for what they want,” he said. “Ours is better than that.”

A quick Web search revealed Gucci sandals priced from $190 to $495. (I think that’s insane, too, but different strokes, etc.)

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