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Kyrie Irving practices with Nets, addresses absence: ‘I knew the consequences. I wasn’t prepared for them’

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For the first time since his virtual appearance at media day three months ago, Kyrie Irving spoke to reporters on Wednesday. After practicing with the Brooklyn Nets, Irving — still unvaccinated against COVID-19 and thus ineligible to play in home games (or road games against the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors) — repeatedly told reporters that he is grateful to be back. 

Irving cleared health and safety protocols on Tuesday. Shortly after Irving’s media availability, Mark Levine, a New York City councilman who chairs the council’s health committee, tweeted that there were a record 39,591 new COVID cases in the city on Wednesday, and 770 new hospitalizations. 

“Not going to lie, it’s been relatively tough to watch from the sideline, with everything going on in the world,” Irving said. “I know everybody’s feeling it, so, just praying for everybody to be healthy during these times. But if I get the opportunity to get on the court and play with some of my teammates, and even if it’s just on the road for away games, I’m just grateful for that opportunity.”

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Earlier this month, the Nets reversed course on their decision to not let Irving be less than a full participant in the 2020-21 season. Brooklyn has recently had as many as 10 players sidelined because of health and safety protocols, and three of its games have been postponed. In this context, the organization decided it could use a part-time All-Star. 

“I understood their (initial) decision and I respected it,” Irving said. “I really had to sit back and think and try to not become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to sit down and really evaluate things and see it from their perspective, meaning the organization and my teammates.”

Irving said that teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden had “always been supportive,” and that he had stayed in shape in part by playing pickup games in middle school gyms and college gyms. He said he had tried to stay “connected with the team” throughout the season. 

“I knew the consequences,” Irving said. “I wasn’t prepared for them, by no stretch of imagination.”

According to Irving, when the Nets told him they wanted him back, he didn’t hesitate: “I said, ‘Absolutely.’ This has always where I want to be. I’ve wanted to be playing with the team in whatever capacity I can do that.”

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Brooklyn coach Steve Nash told reporters that Irving “looks great, considering he just came out of protocols and hasn’t played basketball.” Irving said he had missed the professional environment, and that “it was like riding a bike or being at your first day of school again.” There will be a ramp-up period, however, before he can make his season debut. 

Now that his first regular-season practice is over, Irving said that it’s “time to turn the page” and focus on winning a championship. 

“I don’t want to make it too much about me or what’s going on for the time that I’ve been away,” he said. “I’m just focused on putting the best foot forward for the team and just being available.”

Being fully available, though, will continue to be impossible, unless Irving gets vaccinated or the city loosens its regulations. Once he is in condition to play, his return will have to wait until the Nets are on the road. Next Wednesday, Jan. 5, they will visit the Indiana Pacers, and then they’ll be back at home until they visit the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 12. Their next multi-game road trip runs from Jan. 17 to Jan. 23 and will see them visit Cleveland, Washington, San Antonio and Minnesota. 

Irving said that the team would “rely heavily on our coaching staff” when it comes to managing different rosters at home and on the road. He added that the Nets have “very high IQs,” and that “my job out there is just to make the game easier, whether that be point guard, shooting guard, filling in for 15 minutes off the bench, 20 minutes.” It will “take some patience,” he added, for the team to adjust to the “new situation.”

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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross changes succession plan, will hand franchise to his daughter, per report

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Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has had a change of heart regarding his succession plan for the NFL franchise. The 82-year-old has notified the league of his intentions to change his successor of the Dolphins to his daughter, Jennifer Ross, according to the Sports Business Journal. The process has not yet been completed, but Ross has reportedly made it clear to NFL executives of his desire to pass the team on to his children. Before this development, Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal would have had the opportunity to ascend to be the club’s owner. 

Of course, both Ross and Beal are no strangers to seeing their names in headlines over the last few months. Back on Aug. 2, the two were suspended and fined by the NFL for “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity.” 

That punishment stemmed from the club pursuing both Tom Brady and Sean Payton. The league’s findings noted that the organization had “impermissible communications” with Brady on two different occasions. In August 2019, Beal had contact with Brady while the quarterback was still a member of the Patriots. Later, both Beal and Ross were “active participants” in discussions with Brady following the 2021 season while the future Hall of Famer was still with the Buccaneers

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Beal was suspended from league meetings for the remainder of the 2022 season and fined $500k. Meanwhile, Ross was suspended through Oct. 17, 2022, is not allowed to attend league meetings until 2023, removed from all league committees indefinitely, and fined $1.5 million. The Dolphins were also docked a 2023 first-round pick and a third-rounder in 2024. 

The Sports Business Journal reports that Ross deciding to have his daughter succeed him is not related to the latest punishment by the league and possibly even predates the investigation entirely. While that may be the case, a transition to Jennifer Ross, who already has an ownership stake in the team, may be the cleaner approach. 

In 2016, the NFL approved a plan that would allow Beal the first right to buy the Dolphins in the event of Ross’ death or sale. However, owners would have to vote again to allow him to take control of the team, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that these tampering charges could’ve been a major speed bump. 

In 2008, Ross bought 50% of the Dolphins franchise and later purchased an additional 45% in January 2009 at a total value of $1.1 billion. 

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Red Sox Insider Shares How The Team Misses Andrew Benintendi

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(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

Before the 2021 season, the Boston Red Sox made a trade.

They sent starting outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in February in a deal that also involved the New York Mets.

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They obtained outfielder Franchy Cordero and pitcher Josh Winckowski, plus three players to be named later.

If you are a Red Sox fan or if you have seen Cordero hit (or field), you probably don’t need us to tell you that making that deal was a mistake.

Red Sox insider Pete Abraham summed up the horrendous trade in his most recent tweet.

“Andrew Benintendi returns to Fenway Park tonight for the first time since 2020. He’s been worth 4.7 bWAR since being traded. The players the Sox got back in return: minus-0.6,” he said, via Twitter.

Benintendi went on to have a very good season for the rebuilding Royals in 2021, with a .766 OPS and 1.8 Wins Above Replacement.

He has been even better in 2022, splitting time with the Royals and his new team: the Red Sox’s arch rival.

 

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Red Sox Fans Will Now Have To Watch Benintendi In Pinstripes

Yes: the New York Yankees acquired Benintendi before the deadline in exchange for prospects.

In 2022, ‘Beni’ has delivered 2.1 WAR.

Winckowski has been serviceable at times, but Cordero has not.

As a result, the Red Sox’s return for that deal has been a net negative; so far at least.

It’s probably one of those transactions that general manager Chaim Bloom would probably want to revert if given the chance.

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It happens sometimes.

However, saying that the Benintendi trade didn’t hurt the Red Sox’s long-term outlook would be lying.

If that weren’t enough, Red Sox fans will have to see Benintendi, a player that helped the team win the 2018 World Series, wearing the Yankees uniform.

The post Red Sox Insider Shares How The Team Misses Andrew Benintendi appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Aaron Judge Continues To Pace A Dominant MLB Group

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(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

Each month, MLB writers update their hitter power rankings, an unofficial way to point out who are the hottest and more productive batters in the league.

Players like the New York YankeesAaron Judge and Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez have been in the ranking (the league usually publishes the top-ten on Twitter) several times now, and with good reason: they are, together with Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani, the strongest MVP candidates in the American League.

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The ranking, however, has some fresh faces.

Francisco Lindor is having quite the resurgent season and is leading an underrated New York Mets offense.

Speaking of the Mets, trade addition Daniel Vogelbach is also a new face in the ranking.

He has been performing admirably ever since the Mets brought him to Queens.

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Others Have Been Hot, But Judge Is On Another Level

Another NL East powerhouse, the Philadelphia Phillies, got two hitters in the top-ten: first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher J.T. Realmuto.

The Phillies have won eight of their last 10 games, and they have been getting a lot of help from both sluggers.

Judge, however, keeps showing why he is the premier power threat in MLB.

He is slashing 304/.396/.681 with 45 home runs, a 199 wRC+ (a number that leads the league) and an incredible 7.3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

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Judge was stellar in 2017, his rookie year (when he hit 52 homers), but he is well on his way to shatter all kinds of franchise records in the power department.

Roger Maris hit 61 blasts in 1961, but Judge is currently on pace to knock 65 balls out of the park.

All we know is that Judge will be a very rich man when the World Series ends: he is slated to hit the free agent market.

The Yankees, or some other team, will pay big bucks for his services.

The post Aaron Judge Continues To Pace A Dominant MLB Group appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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