More tidbits and factoids about ‘It’s a Long Way to October’ and the ’82 Braves

When you conduct hours of interviews with multiple people for a single story, there are always good tidbits and anecdotes that get left out, either because they don’t exactly fit the narrative or because including them would bog things down.
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There were a good number of these during my interviews for the deep dive into the groundbreaking but obscure 1982 Braves documentary, It’s a Long Way to October, so I thought I’d share a few.

I mentioned in the story that some on the Braves thought having the documentary crew around during the record-setting 13-game winning streak in April had brought good luck. Pitching coach Bob Gibson saw another reason. When getting on the team bus one night during the streak, Gibson paused to adjust the mirrors. We’ve gotta make sure these are just right, he said, according to multiple people, because that’s how we’re doing it.

I’ve been talking with my physical therapist as far as whether I can showcase anything, said Ramczyk, who will be headed to Indianapolis next month along with other injured prospects for a medical re-check. We’re not sure yet.

It’s just an injury where you don’t want to push too early and have something bad happen, especially before the draft. I should be cleared to be 100 percent full pads, full practice by May. My film is going to speak a lot for me.

Womens Wayne Gretzky Jersey Just the fact Ramczyk has any after his college path speaks well for what he has forged.

Ballard was especially age-conscious at outside linebacker.

With Indianapolis’ defense having fallen into decay, Ballard went for reasonably-priced volume rather than high-priced veteran signees. Only one of 11 newcomers (ex-Tennessee nose tackle Al Woods) is 30 or older.

Ballard was especially age-conscious at outside linebacker. Cole, Erik Walden (31) and the now-retired Robert Mathis (36) were replaced by Jabaal Sheard (27), Barkevious Mingo (26) and John Simon (26). Ballard also drafted an edge-rusher in Round 3 (Ohio’s Tarell Basham) after Grigson had made the position an afterthought in the draft since the 2013 selection of Bjorn Werner, a spectacular failure at pick No. 24.

Since 2004, only one rookie not drafted in the first round — Chargers third-round wide receiver Keenan Allen in 2013 — has won offensive rookie of the year. Cook, landing in a favorable spot with Minnesota, has a good chance to buck the trend. He had the three-down talent to go in Round 1, and the Vikings aggressively traded up to get him early in Round 2.

As Cook steps into a chance to replace Peterson as the Vikings’ long-term feature back, the wild card to his candidacy is the health of free-agent addition Latavius Murray. Regardless of how Murray comes back from his ankle surgery, he is headed to a more limited power-back role behind Cook. The Vikings also need much better run blocking to facilitate Cook’s production. He might be too good to keep off the field, allowing him to bolster his value as a receiver on third downs.nike_cardinals_306

The Saints last season ranked second in pass attempts

Sure, makes sense. But Kaepernick in that passage could be replaced by Manziel and still apply.

The Saints last season ranked second in pass attempts, first in passing yards, first in passing yards per game and fifth in passing yards per attempt.
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Are we supposed to believe Manziel, who has completed just 147 NFL passes and has a career yards per attempt average of 6.5, can run the same offense Brees has mastered after 11 years in New Orleans? Would replacing Brees with Manziel be doing right by the other 10 guys in the huddle?

Brees in those 11 seasons has an average of 7.7 yards per attempt. The Saints love to throw the ball downfield.

Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy while at Texas A&M primarily due to his dazzling, scrambling style of play, has never proven himself capable of throwing the ball downfield with consistency and accuracy, save for a few Mike Evans jump balls in college.

Will everyone openly love and embrace rule changes and the sport’s cultural changes? Of course not. There are things I can’t stand. (The intentional walk rule is one. Vest jerseys are another. Those are just the worst). You also can’t get everyone to agree on the day of the week, or whether the earth is flat. And that’s what’s troubling.

That same vocal minority of baseball traditionalists seems to be a major turn-off to others wanting to stay or get involved in the sport. Perhaps the explanation is the generation gap.
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We live in an age when people on social networking sites all scream Look at me! It’s what the younger generation is into, and while leagues such as the NBA — and, to a lesser extent, the NFL — allow their players to market themselves and allow fans more accessibility to the leagues’ respective players, MLB is seemingly lagging behind.

NFL free agency: D.J. Fluker signs one-year deal with Giants, per reports

I know with Washington, he was up 100 mph, or close to it, he said. His last pitch in the sixth inning against Cincinnati in the minor-league game (in spring training), was 97. So I know the velocity’s there.

Lopez might edge out Giolito in the fastball department, but his start as a professional came with much less fanfare. Lopez began his career by agreeing to a $17,000 signing bonus with the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. Arm issues limited him to only 16 total innings in his first two years with the franchise, but from there his fastball — and his career — took off.

Another thing he doesn’t have is Giolito’s stature. He’s just 6 feet tall and listed at 185 pounds. For some, that’s an issue. That’s part of the reason ESPN’s Keith Law kept him out of his Top 100 prospect ranking: He’s a little guy whose arm action doesn’t use his lower half, and I think he’ll lack the command or durability to start — but could be electric in a relief role.

Limited Kids Crockett Gillmore Jersey D.J. Fluker has found a new NFL home with the New York Giants.

The former Chargers offensive lineman signed a one-year deal with the Giants on Saturday, according to NFL.com. Further details on the contract have not yet been released.

Game Mens Andre Hal Jersey Fluker, the No. 11 pick out of Alabama in the 2013 NFL Draft, struggled with consistency and mental errors in four seasons with the Chargers, not to mention several injuries, especially concussions. Now, he has one year to prove his worth with the Giants, which ranked 29th in rushing yards (1,416) in 2016. He split time at both tackle and guard in his career.

Fluker will likely contribute to the Giants’ offensive line as a road-grader if he earns a starting spot — that’s good news, considering New York gave up the third-fewest sacks in 2016 (22).

Cleveland radio host fired after saying Jabrill Peppers is ‘high all the time’

The Browns selected Jabrill Peppers in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, even after the former Michigan safety tested positive for a dilute sample at the NFL Combine in March.

Now former ESPN Radio Cleveland host Sabrina Parr thinks it was a mistake by the Browns and explained why Wednesday morning.

While comparing Peppers to troubled Browns receiver Josh Gordon, who has a long history of substance abuse, Parr believes Peppers also abuses drugs.

WKNR announced Wednesday night it had terminated Parr’s employment.

“He’s on the lean and the molly,” Parr said on “The Really Big Show” on ESPN 850. “The guy’s not going to make it. He’s not going to make it through the season.

“He’s another Josh Gordon … I’ve seen it first-hand from a different vantage point, and it’s the same thing all over again. How are you already high out of your mind, and you’ve only been here for a week.”

Even after show hosts Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer tried to get Parr to walk back her statements, she doubled down and even joked that 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas was “on the lean,” which is also known as “purple drink” or “sizzurp.”

“I guess I can’t say certain things,” Parr said before she was interrupted by one of her co-hosts with, “No. You can’t.”

Parr tried to defend herself on Twitter, saying her comments were taken out of context, but later deleted the tweet.nike_steelers_1517

That’s not the right question. A better one: Do they have a choice?

Griffin’s injuries are concerning. If you could ever get him healthy for an extended stretch of time, though, it feels like there’s still a ceiling on this team they haven’t yet hit. Paul turns 32 on May 6, but he’s still nearly as good as ever. It doesn’t feel like he’s nearing a dramatic drop off yet.
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None of the alternatives are viable options. If they bring back only Paul or Griffin, they don’t have the cap space to sign anyone else. If they let them both walk, they may not even have the cap space for one max-level player, let alone two. If they bring back only Paul and Griffin, skimping on the role players around them and ditching Redick, then they’re stuck with a team that’s functionally worse than one that just lost in the first round. If they decide to blow it all up, they don’t own their 2019 first-round pick and have players like Rivers and Crawford and Jordan under expensive contracts for several more seasons.

Game Womens Dee Gordon Jersey As free agents, Paul or Griffin could just sign somewhere else. There’s no guarantee they’re coming back to Los Angeles, not with the repeated playoff failures they’ve both sustained. However, if the Clippers have the option to re-sign them, it doesn’t seem like they have any choice except doing just that.

For a best-case scenario, it’s a lousy one. But what else are the Clippers going to do?

4 NFL undrafted free agents to get excited about in 2017

Joe Maddon Authentic Jersey The end of the NFL draft means the start of undrafted free agency, and dozens of players have found professional homes in the hours after not getting picked.

Your team probably will not sign the next Kurt Warner or Wes Welker or Chris Harris Jr. during this period. All-Pro-caliber UDFAs come along only rarely. But solid-contributor UDFAs come around all the time; it’s just a matter of finding them.

Womens Luke Bowanko Jersey You could say you called this is in advance, but not many people would think this four-five series matchup would be far and away the best of the first round. It’s been a series filled with early drama. Rudy Gobert is back but not after going down within the first 20 seconds of Game 1. The Clippers have lost Blake Griffin for the rest of the playoffs. And in Game 4, Gordon Hayward was suffering from food poisoning and had to leave at half time. It’s been an odd yet exciting series and Game 5 was no different.

Game 5 concluded with the Jazz taking a 3-2 lead in the series in a 96-92 win, and even the low scoring game wouldn’t conclude before Joe Johnson had a dagger shot and Chris Paul hit a ridiculous three to keep things interesting anyway. Johnson has been a revelation in this series, the exact type of timely veteran scorer (and seven-time all-star, have you heard!?) the Jazz needed on a roster steeped with defense but sometimes lacking battle-hardened contributors on the other end.
It seems like the Jazz will have a great chance to close out this series when they return home for Game 6 on Friday. But it also feels too soon to count out the magician that is Paul. Don’t be shocked if this series goes seven games.

Kawhi Leonard played one of the best games of the season to carry Spurs in Game 2

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The San Antonio Spurs knew they had to play much, much better in Game 2. The Houston Rockets had blown them out in Game 1, embarrassing them on their home court, and the Spurs needed to be significantly better.

Authentic Sen’Derrick Marks Jersey Leonard is that good. In these playoffs, he has validated anyone who decided to vote for him over frontrunner and Mr. Triple-Double Russell Westbrook, as well as the potential runner-up, Harden himself. You can ask him to do just about anything on the court, even if it’s beyond his power, and he’ll put his head down and comply immediately. Fortunately for San Antonio, those situations rarely ever occur, because is there anything Leonard really can’t do on a basketball floor?

San Antonio isn’t made up of bad players, by any means, but a dirty secret around the league is that the Spurs aren’t as good as we’ve perhaps made them out to be. Despite 61 wins, San Antonio has had to lean heavily on Leonard throughout the year to be the best player, lacking enough consistency around him to direct those responsibilities to anybody else.

At every stop along the way, Leonard responded positively. Now, with the season on the line and Leonard already in the midst of a career year, the Spurs are asking him to do even more. Keep scoring on offense, they tell him, while making him defend a star opponent for even longer stretches of time.

So far, it’s working perfectly.

Did Oilers’ Milan Lucic try to choke a Ducks player in Game 3?

The second-round series between the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks finally got chippy on Sunday, but one player might’ve crossed a big line.

Oilers winger Milan Lucic had been steamed at Ducks defenders all game after some rough play. In the second period, Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm got tangled with another player and Lucic stepped in.

And it looked like he tried to choke him. Or at least thought about it for a long second.

Lucic was penalized for roughing, as was Lindholm. But you have to wonder if the NHL takes a closer look at this, or if they should. Face-washing an opponent is one thing, but clinging to a player’s throat and pinning him to the glass like that certainly signifies some sort of intent.

And Lucic’s past can’t be ignored, either. He was suspended in the 2009 playoffs for a cross-check to the head, suspended in 2012 for an illegal hit (weeks after avoiding suspension for a hit to the head on a Sabres goalie), and drew universal criticism in 2014 when a hot mic picked up a threat made to an opponent in a handshake line.

Lucic signed a massive contract with the Oilers two years ago in part due to his toughness and ability to protect star players. It’s not unreasonable to watch that clip from Game 3 and wonder if he crossed some sort of line.

As the Pacers fell out of the playoff race in late in the 2016-2017 season, Larry Bird went a did something dramatic. He brought back Lance Stephenson. And to some degree it actually worked. Stephenson brought an energy to the team that the Pacers lacked all season.nike_redskins_721

The young receiver came back for the ball with cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon draped all over him.

As a big-bodied receiver, Smith-Schuster has the strength to fend off defenders when battling for throws. Because of the 20-year-old’s size, defensive backs struggled with out-powering the USC product.

For instance, in a 21-17 win against Colorado last season. Smith-Schuster corralled a difficult 34-yard pass late in the third quarter. Quarterback Sam Darnold lined up in the shotgun, took the snap, and immediately surveyed the field. Then, he climbed up the pocket, and released the deep pass to Smith-Schuster near the sidelines.
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The young receiver came back for the ball with cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon draped all over him. Smith-Schuster caught the low pass while Witherspoon fell on him. That was not an easy reception because Smith-Schuster had to come back to the ball and fight off Witherspoon to get in position to make the catch.

The USC product can play when the ball is in the air and has the size to lineup on the perimeter.

Now, the Minnesota Vikings are hoping he can live up to the lofty standard he set with the Seminoles and emerge as the top tailback in a stacked class.
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The 5’10, 209-pound runner doesn’t have the bulk of Leonard Fournette or the versatility of Christian McCaffrey. Instead, he’s got a foundation of success and a track record of blowing away even the highest expectations, and the Vikings will hope he fills the hole left by the departure of Adrian Peterson.

Cook was a 1,000-yard rusher as a freshman at FSU and then increased his production even more, with back-to-back seasons with 19 touchdowns and at least 1,600 rushing yards, eventually breaking Warrick Dunn’s school career rushing record.