CC Sabathia is in the best “shape” of his life
WASHINGTON -- As any good baseball fan knows, every player shows up to Spring Training every year in the best shape of his life. In CC Sabathia’s case, that shape is round and oblong. Ovalish, if you will. Like a pinstriped egg.
After dropping down to 275 pounds last year and looking like a cartoonishly skinny version of his prior self, Sabathia is back up to his fighting weight of 305. He looks like his old self, but the question of whether the heft will help bring back the 34-year-old’s former velocity remains to be seen.
If nothing else, it’ll bring a whole new competition to the classic AL East rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox.
Danny Espinosa is Sam Elliott in The Big Lebowski
As for his handle bar mustache -- he gave that to himself.
They call Viera the city of “faith.” I didn’t find it to be that exactly. But it’s a place where pitchers and catchers are reporting for Spring Training, and where position players are showing up with facial hair dramatic enough to stop you in your tracks. But sometimes there’s a mustache, sometimes there’s a mustache…
Bryce Harper is ready to crush your puny little Spring Training
WASHINGTON -- Nothing to see here. Just Bryce Harper pulling 550+ pounds using a rope with nothing but his bare hands and action figure muscles.
Pitchers and catchers report in a week.
Win a Valentine’s Day phone call from Ryan Kerrigan
WASHINGTON -- This Saturday, you can look your loved one adoringly in the eyes, flash a loving smile, then hand them the phone to hear a special message from Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
Yes, you read that right. The Redskins are offering the prize to those who enter on their website, and are using the hashtag #KerriganValentine to promote the offer. The language reads “Calling all Women of Washington,” so it’s unclear whether or not men are eligible to win the prize.
Win or lose, you can enjoy this photo of him winking into the camera.
PECOTA projects Nats first, O’s last
WASHINGTON -- The PECOTA projection system, developed by Nate Silver during his time at Baseball Prospectus, projects win/loss totals for every Major League team prior to the season. BP released the 2015 PECOTA projections Thursday, which show the Washington Nationals winning the NL East and the Baltimore Orioles finishing dead last in the AL East.
Interestingly, despite Washington’s acquisition of Max Scherzer to a team that won 96 games last year, the Nationals are only projected as the second-best team in the NL. Their 91 expected wins (the projections are inherently conservative) trail the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 97 by a full six games. Considering this system only projected the vaunted 2010 Philadelphia Phillies to win 95 games, that is a massively optimistic number.
Even more interestingly, PECOTA sees a massive fall-off for the other half of the MASN duo. Due in part to expected regression among certain Orioles and in part to the acquisitions of fellow AL East competitors, the system projects Baltimore to go just 78-84, worst in the AL East. That would be a drop off of 18 wins, while the Red Sox and Rays jump up 15 and nine wins, respectively.
While the numbers aren’t always right, they have some history of success in regards to good teams potentially dropping off. The Chicago White Sox won 99 games and the World Series in 2005, then followed that up with a 90-win season in 2006. PECOTA projected the Sox to win just 72 games heading into the 2007 season, a number that was widely laughed at, including by star first baseman Paul Konerko who quipped “well, we’re screwed now.” The White Sox finished 72-90.
Patriots, Seahawks fighting to see who can anger football gods more
WASHINGTON -- Coming off their respective AFC and NFC Championship Game victories, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks have spent Monday tempting the football gods and alienating themselves from football fans everywhere.
Reports out of New England indicate that the NFL is investigating whether or not the Patriots deflated footballs used in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts. While it’s hard to imagine a bit of air being the difference in a 38-point blowout, the Pats have been charges with improprieties in the past, for videotaping sideline signals during a 2007 game against the New York Jets.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks took their faux-pas off the field, tweeting the following photo with the caption “We shall overcome.”
We won’t aim to speak for exactly what Dr. King had in mind when he spoke those words, but it’s safe to say it wasn’t in regards to a 16-point halftime deficit.
Georgetown, Butler bulldogs hang out before weekend tilt
When Butler moved to the new Big East last season, it meant a second bulldog in the conference -- Blue III -- joining Georgetown’s Jack the Bulldog. We quickly learned that the league was big enough for the both of them, as we saw when the two hung out together for the first time on campus in Northwest D.C. last February.
With the two schools squaring off on the court once again this weekend (tip is 5 p.m. Saturday at Verizon Center and on FOX Sports 1), the pups had a chance to reunite in the nation’s capital.
Uber offers helicopter rides to National Championship Game
WASHINGTON -- Uber is leaving the streets and taking to the skies for Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Arlington, Tx. For just $350, you can skip traffic and be transported to the game via helicopter.
RG3 is auctioning off his ankle cast
That’s right, the same plaster molding that once held the quarterback’s lower leg and foot in dank, sweaty immobilization for weeks after his injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 14 can now be yours, if the price is right. Of course, the cast is also signed by the entire Redskins team, including Alfred Morris, DeSean Jackson and more.
The bid is currently at $300, but there is more than a month left to get in on the action, as the auction won’t close until February 13.
ESPN rates Nats' rotation tops in baseball
WASHINGTON -- In his annual offseason breakdown of each MLB team, ESPN’s Buster Olney has given the Washington Nationals the nod for the best rotation in all of baseball.
While Stephen Strasburg has been the Opening Day starter the past two years, Jordan Zimmermann emerged as perhaps the new staff ace in 2014. But the real reason Washington snagged the top spot was its depth, with both Doug Fister and Tanner Roark finishing in the top 12 in the National League in ERA at 2.41 and 2.85, respectively.
Rick Ankiel is your new “Life Skills Coordinator”
The Nationals announced their 2015 minor league staff Thursday, including one familiar face in an unfamiliar position. Rick Ankiel, who famously converted from pitcher to position player and spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Nats, will join the organization in the newly created role of Life Skills Coordinator.
Ankiel was a highly touted pitching prospect with the St. Louis Cardinals and won 11 games as a full time starter in 2000 at age 20 before suddenly losing control of his ability to control his pitches. Unable to correct his wildness, Ankiel converted to a position player and made a successful return to the Major Leagues as an outfielder in 2007. Ankiel was known for having one of the strongest outfield arms in the game, playing seven years as a position player before retiring after the 2013 season.
If anyone knows about the psychological trials and tribulations of professional baseball, it just might be Ankiel. If nothing else, it gives us a chance to unearth some Ankiel highlights, and that makes today a good day. Enjoy.
Virginia paper uses sports page as Stuart Scott tribute
WASHINGTON – Of all the tributes to longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, who passed away Sunday, Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot’s stood out for its originality and creativity. Using Scott’s most famous catch phrases in each headline, it celebrates the unique voice Scott brought to the Worldwide Leader in a most fitting way.
Nicely done, guys
Couple gets engaged before Redskins-Cowboys debacle
WASHINGTON -- At least something good came out of Sunday’s Redskins finale.
The LA-based couple was visiting Altmire’s family. The 28-year-old grew up in Damascus, Md., and is a lifelong Redskins fan. And while the proposal was clearly the biggest surprise of the day (obviously the game wasn’t), it begs the question – why do that for a meaningless contest your team is likely to lose?
Maybe it’s just us, but even without the benefit of hindsight, we probably would have gone with either the Jacksonville or Tennessee game.
The Detroit Free Press picks the wrong Harbaugh
WASHINGTON -- These things can be confusing, we know.
There are lots of sibling combinations in sports, and sometimes people mistake one for the other. Brook and Robin Lopez. Jose and Ozzie Canseco. Kentucky coach John Calipari even yelled at the wrong Harrison twin during Saturday’s win over Louisville.
But when you have time to put things in print, and the subject in question was the star quarterback at a major university within your distribution area, well, the standards are a little higher. Nevertheless, when addressing the speculation surrounding Michigan hiring Jim Harbaugh, the Detroit Free Press published a photo of his brother John, the Baltimore Ravens head coach.
To help the Free Press clear up any possible confusion for the future, here is a photo of John, looking like the seemingly normal guy he is, followed by one of Jim, the psychotic man-baby who will be roaming the sidelines in Ann Arbor for at least some of the 6-year, $48-million contract he reportedly is signing.
Got it? Good. On three. Ready...break.
The Seahawks are destroying everything in their path
WASHINGTON -- Just a few short weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers looked like the top team in the NFC and the Seattle Seahawks looked like they would have to fight their way into the playoffs as a Wild Card. Well, all that has changed -- and quickly -- as the defending Super Bowl champs have reemerged as a sleeping giant.
Sitting at 6-4 through 10 games, Seattle has won five straight, bookended by victories over former NFC West leader Arizona (really, the schedule was an NFC McDouble, with the two Arizona games as the buns, a pair of San Francisco patties and the Philadelphia, fittingly, as the cheese in the middle). The Seahawks' vaunted defense has allowed just 33 points over that span, an average of 6.5 per game. They’ve won each game by double digits, culminating in a 35-6 thrashing Sunday night in the desert.
But it’s not just that Seattle has won by big, dominating margins, it’s how they done it. With Richard Sherman picking off passes and trashing his old college coach Jim Harbaugh. With Marshawn Lynch ripping off impossible touchdown runs and doing nothing more than thanking the media for their interest.
Braves renderings show them losing/rip off Nationals Park
WASHINGTON -- There’s a lot going on here, but let’s start with the big one. When you’re trying to generate excitement about your brand new stadium, you probably don’t want to show the home team losing. But that’s exactly what we see in this rendering of SunTrust Park, set to open in 2017.
But that’s not all. A closer examination reveals that the electronic scoreboard grab is really from…wait for it…Nationals Park. The Braves are listed to the left and the Nats to the right. Don’t just take our word for it, check out this photo of the board at Nats Park from the NLDS this year.
Pretty bad, right? So, technically the Braves are winning, but, yeah, no.
But there’s one more oddity here. The stadium scoreboard clock reads 9:55 p.m., but the sun is still well above the horizon line. Are the Braves really moving to Anchorage? At least they wouldn’t have to change that A…
Panthers QB Cam Newton injured in car wreck
WASHINGTON -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was reportedly injured in a car accident early Tuesday afternoon in uptown Charlotte, according to the Charlotte Observer.
A car overturned and Newton, identified by an Observer photographer at the scene of the accident, was taken away in an ambulance.
Newton was the first overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft after winning the Heisman Trophy and the National Championship at Auburn University.
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
RENTON, Wash. (AP) -- With the help of a cardboard cutout, the Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin took digs at the NFL during a news conference on Tuesday after the league issued a $100,000 fine to teammate Marshawn Lynch for not speaking to the media.
Sherman and Baldwin made mention of everything from the league's sponsorship deals with major beer companies to their own personal endorsements that are not affiliated with the NFL, to the talk of player safety with the Seahawks about to play their second game in five days.
The point of their performance seemed to be that whatever they said -- real or satirical -- it would not be a violation of the league's media policy on speaking with reporters.
"The other day Marshawn Lynch got fined $100,000. Did you know that, $100,000?" Sherman said. "And it's like they wouldn't have paid him $100,000 if he had talked. If he had spoken, Doug do you think they would have paid him $100,000?"
Read more on WTOP.com.
J,. Brooks, wtop.com
WASHINGTON -- As the weather around the DMV braces for possible snow and
wet weather over the next couple of days, rest assured the Buffalo Bills
will be able to stay home for an actual home game this Sunday.
ESPN reports the Bill will take on Cleveland at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which has been cleared of the mammoth snow fall that happened
around the Buffalo area last week.
The Bills defeated the Jets, 38-3 Monday night, in Detroit. The game was moved from Sunday to Monday due to the massive amounts of snow on the playing field at Ralph Wilson.
The team had offered 500 jobs at $10 an hour to clear the field but the NFL erred on the side of
caution and moved the game to Detroit’s Ford Field. The League had also been considering Fed Ex Field in Landover, Maryland.
The Bills can use all the home field advantage they can to get over the last few weeks of the regular season, as they are right back in the thick of the AFC playoffs.
Both the Bills and the Browns are on the outside looking in.
Lynch returns wallet to…Lynch
WASHINGTON -- Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s future in Seattle is up in the air. But for the moment, he’s the most popular man in town -- or at least in Marysville, Washington.
A Marysville resident named Jason Lynch (no relation) saw the player at a gas station in town, but decided not to bother him. Unbenownst to Jason, he dropped his wallet while at the station, and returned home. Marshawn found the wallet, picked it up, and returned it to the man’s house.
While Jason was not home at the time, his neighbors were, and got to meet Marshawn and wide receiver Ricardo Lockette.
"Crazy!” Jason later said on Facebook. “I can't thank them guys enough for bringing it back and for making my neighbor a very happy lady for getting to a chance to meet them.”
Browser extension removes ‘Redskins’ from your browsing
WASHINGTON -- For those fans of the “Washington Football Team” that wish to remove the team’s nickname from their day-to-day web experience, there’s a web extension for that.
As reported on Mashable, the product is called Redskins Web Skin, and it changes the nickname to a “more dignified term” of the user’s choice. Those terms include the Americans, Athletes, Thanksgiving Originators and Tribe. It is currently available for Google Chrome, with other browser options forthcoming.
Looks like the Tribe is heading to the west coast this weekend…
Saints fan is this weekend’s poorest sport
WASHINGTON -- Watching your team lose at home isn’t fun. Watching them lose badly is even worse. But taking out your frustrations on happy-go-lucky visiting fans who have traveled to your city is generally not a good way to go, especially because everything is on camera these days.
One New Orleans Saints fan learned this lesson the hard way Sunday. After Bengals wide receiver Jermaine Gresham crossed the goal line to put Cincinnati up three scores on the host Saints, he targeted a female Bengals fan in the crowd and tossed her the football. But said Saints fan leapt into action, like the world’s saddest super hero, and snatched the ball away from the unsuspecting fan.
According to the sideline reporter covering the game, the fan expressed “zero remorse” for his actions and said he had “absolutely not” given any thought to giving up the ball. Nice job, guy, nice effort.
Times are tough for the New Orleans Saints. After Rob Woodfork cursed them by picking them to win the Super Bowl, the Saints immediately dropped their first two contests and have not been over .500 all season. Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Bengals was their second home defeat in eight days, and left them just 4-6 with six games to play. All of this is to say that anger and frustration are understandable -- but there are probably better ways to deal with such emotions.
The story did have a happy ending, though, as late in the fourth quarter, the intended recipient of the ball did in fact receive one.
Cowboys use unfortunate hashtag for trip to England
WASHINGTON -- The Dallas Cowboys cross the ocean this week for a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. In celebration, the team’s Twitter account created a hashtag that truly everyone can get behind.
Yes, that’s right: #CowboysUK. #CowboysUK all the way to England. Finally, a way for Redskins, Eagles and Giants fans to find common ground.
The Cowboys may not really be America’s team, but we’re pretty sure everyone can agree with the sentiment: #CowboysUK.