Manny Machado Is Sick Of Boston’s ‘Fucking Bullshit’

Not satisfied by throwing five-ounce projectiles 95 miles per hour at every part of Manny Machado in the last Orioles-Red Sox series, including once at his head, Boston took one more crack at injuring the Orioles best player on Tuesday:

This is all seemingly stemming from Machado’s hard slide into Dustin Pedroia on April 21. For those keeping track — as I’m sure Machado is — that is six times he’s been thrown at in the last four games against the Red Sox. It is, for lack of a better phrase, fucking bullshit, and Manny has had enough:

A few points here:

1. Manny is correct, this is fucking bullshit. But we covered that.
2. Hopefully he doesn’t decide to use his bat to take things into his own hands, but his point is well taken: pitchers have the power to use baseballs as weapons and there’s nothing the hitter can do. It’s an incredibly dangerous situation, as SB Nation’s Marc Normandin detailed this morning.
3. Aside from people potentially being seriously injured, this is all making for an incredibly fun rivalry between these two teams. It helps that Manny keeps dropping bombs on Boston — he’s gone deep in each of the last two games.
4. This rant got the remix it deserved:

Caps Post-Game 2 Players-Only Meeting Transcript

This is so good, especially with Pittsburgh’s finest conspiracy theorists in mind, that we want to share it with those who may not see it on Twitter.

By Dave Lozo. Enjoy. And buy his book.

And in case you can’t see those screengrabs in the Twitter embed, here they are:

Update: It seems that not everyone’s comedy detector is working.

Sidney Crosby’s Injury Has The Takes Reaching A Boiling Point

After trying their very best to lose a game in which they held a 2-0 lead with under two minutes left, the Caps allowed us to hang onto the tiniest sliver of optimism by winning Game 3 early in overtime. Certainly, our souls will still be crushed later in the series, but for now, there’s hope.

Of course, that’s not the big takeaway from Monday night. The injury to Sidney Crosby is the talking point du jour, and the takes are coming in hot and heavy.

The most absurd of which comes from this guy:

This is Rob Rossi, who I’m not convinced isn’t Darren Rovell’s brother. He used to write for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and now pens opinions like this for something called Upgruv.com:

Makes you wonder what that closed-door meeting called by Capitals players was really about after their blowout defeat in Game 2, huh?

Not really.

If they say it wasn’t about eliminating Crosby, the Capitals are liars. And if that sounds like an unfair accusation to make of the Capitals, then please consider my decade of experience covering a sport I love and a league I really, really, really want to give the benefit of the doubt.

(Or maybe consider their coach publicly saying his players must go places they hadn’t gone before?)

Sorry, but I cannot give the Capitals, or the NHL, any benefit. And I doubt very much there wasn’t an intent to injure Crosby when this series shifted to Pittsburgh.

The plan to injure Crosby, which was devised in a closed-door meeting, worked to perfection: Give him a scoring chance, then have Ovi make just enough legal contact to cause Crosby to lose his balance so he falls directly into the waiting cross-check of Niskanen. And it looks like they’re totally going to get away with it — Nisky won’t be suspended.

But this wasn’t the only take coming from Pittsburgh suggesting the play was possibly intentional. Kevin Gorman of Triblive.com offered this:

Maybe you’d be more willing to buy [Niskanen’s] explanation if it wasn’t from the Capitals, the same organization against which Crosby suffered a concussion on a blindside hit by David Steckel in the 2011 Winter Classic, an injury that caused him to miss 63 games over two seasons.

So the evidence being used here to suggest intent on Niskanen’s part is that a guy who hasn’t played for the Capitals since that 2010-11 season hurt Crosby six years ago. There’s your smoking gun, folks.

There are still at least two games left in this series. Let’s hope everyone continues to remain calm and rational.

The Nats Are Scoring So Many Runs

Twenty-three. That’s how many runs the Nats hung on the Mets in Southeast D.C. yesterday afternoon. That’s so many runs. It’s a franchise record, in fact.

It’s also about how many runs a typical team scores in a week. Or, if you’re the Nats, an entire playoff series. (They average 16.3 per October.)

Washington is averaging a touchdown — 6.8 runs — per game. That’s more than a full run ahead of the No. 2 team (the Yankees at 5.6), and it’s 2.5x more than the lowest-scoring team (Kansas City, 2.7).

They’re also the proud new owners of this obscure record:

Every single regular is batting .278 or better. Two players, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, are out of this world:

I love that Harper not only broke that record, but he raised the bar three notches. Also, Zimmerman has the club record for RBIs in April with 29.

One more obscure stat via OG Nats reporter Mark Zuckerman, for good measure:

Way to go, Tony. Collect your prize:

The team’s top four starters — Strasburg, Scherzer, Gio and Roark — are posting a combined ERA of 2.80, and the Nats’ overall record is the best in baseball. They’re 6.5 games up on the Mets.

There are five months between now and October. It’s a long time for things to go wrong, but this feels so right.

Caps-Pens Series Preview: Is There Any Hope?

Mr. Irrelevant Caps correspondent Brad Parker returns (!) to preview this Caps-Pens death match. He’s joined by Ian Brinksman, a Pittsburgh native and devoted Penguins fan who had the misfortune of working with Brad once. Brad asks the questions and Ian answers. Enjoy …

1. Is there any reason to think this year will be different?

Oh, god yeah. These are essentially the same two teams that met last year, only the Capitals blue line is better and the Penguins are without Letang. The Pens/Caps split their series this season, with each team winning at home. Given that 4 games are going to be played at the Verizon Center, I think they have an excellent shot. The only weakness I gleamed (from watching exactly five Capitals games this year, including three in the playoffs) is they struggle a bit against speed. With Carl Hagelin sidelined the Penguins are considerably less spry.

Finally — and maybe I’m putting way too much into this — but I think the fact the Capitals have so many impending free agents there will be a real psychic push to get them over the hump.

2. Why will this year be the same?

Even without Letang, the Penguins are still deep, fast, and dangerous. These are obviously the two best teams in the NHL. As such, the winner of this series will probably be down to a coin flip. I was also surprised at how stiff the Caps seemed to be against the Leafs. Obviously, they found their footing, but I don’t think they can play like that against the Penguins and expect to win. Also, Hagelin should be back at some point this series. He gave the Capitals fits last year, and would be a huge boon for the Penguins.

Speaking of psychic stuff, I do think the Penguins have it over the Capitals. I’m not sure how that translates onto the ice, but if this series is a coin flip, well, that could be the edge.

3. What do you hate most about Caps fans?

I’m the prissiest priss that ever came out of priss town. When I go to the Verizon Center I’m not loud, I’m not aggressive, I simply sit in my seat and (quietly) cheer on the team that I grew up watching. Even still, I get lumped in with the goons who stand on the Portrait Gallery steps. If an alien came down and witnessed my time in that venue, they’d assume my name rhymed with “bunt.”

To be a bit more serious, I do think it’s pretty bad that “your city is a shithole” is such a common refrain. I find it pompous, ignorant, and conforms to the worst stereotypes of East Coast elitism. I love D.C., I’ve obviously put my roots here, so I think the denizens of this city are better than that. Obviously, not every Caps fan does this –- just as you’ll never find me waving a terrible towel (for some reason) on the portrait gallery steps -– but it is a thing.

4. Last year the Caps moved the schedule to accommodate a Bieber concert at Verizon, this year we kept our schedule and cancelled a Chris Brown show. We deserve to win just for that, right?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. At best, this is a wash for D.C. reducing his assault charge to a simple misdemeanor. But if I can get some sort of assurance that he’ll get all his food spat in on his next visit to this fair city, yes, that’s worth like seven Caps championship parades.

5. What’s your prediction?

My brain says Caps in 7. Like I said, I think it’s a coin toss and the home ice advantage is just as good a reason as any. My heart secretly says Pens in 7, but under no circumstances will I put money on that. Considering every prediction I made in this space last year came true, get ready to exorcise those playoff demons Caps fans! (Until you get steamrolled in the Eastern Conference Finals because you don’t get to have nice things).

6. If the Caps don’t beat the Pens this year, with this lineup and Letang and Murray hurt, is there any hope of ever defeating Pittsburgh?

I mean, on a long enough timeline… sure. I do think this is your best chance over the next several years. But even if Oshie and company depart, your core is still strong (and young) enough that I doubt it’ll take that long to reload. Look at that: optimism!

The Redskins First-Round Draft Pick Will Probably Be One Of These Guys

Something interesting I learned the other day: the NFL Draft happens this Thursday. I wasn’t aware of this, likely on account of the draft being boring as hell, and the Skins once again reverting to a complete dumpster fire over the offseason. Couple this with the fact that it’s happening at the same time as Game 1 of Caps-Penguins and you’re left with no legitimate excuse to tune into the draft. If you’re watching the draft for any reason other then your son is expecting to hear his name called, you should go to jail.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at who the Skins might take with the 17th overall pick!

As you may have gathered, I haven’t followed the draft speculation closely, so I decided to turn to the mock draft experts in this game of make believe. Using data collected from 11 sites (some of which have multiple people creating mock drafts), I tried to come to some conclusions about who Washington might end up being unable to keep beyond their rookie contract.

Here are the results!

Three players were selected more than once:

— Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama (picked four times)
— Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State (picked two times)
— Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC (picked twice, once via a trade with the Jets up to No. 4 lol)

The positions most commonly selected:

— Linebacker: seven times
— Cornerback: three times
— Defensive lineman: three times
— QB, RB, WR: two times each

The full list of players selected:

Bleacher Report: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
ESPN: Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
SI: Mitchell Trubiskey, QB, UNC (via trade)
NFL: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
NFL: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
NFL: Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU
NFL: Mitchell Trubiskey, QB, UNC
FOX SPORTS: John Ross, WR, Washington
The Ringer: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Walter Football: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
USA TODAY: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
CBS: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
CBS: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
CBS: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
CBS: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
CBS: Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt
CBS: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
SB Nation: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
CSN Mid-Atlantic: Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple

And here is the only opinion that matters from @BurgundyBlog, who was nice enough to share his thoughts with us:

Needless to say, my preference will depend on the context. If Jonathan Allen somehow falls, you take him. Period. Same with Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, or Solomon Thomas. Those are dream scenarios that I consider highly unlikely, but would make for an easy decision.

If it’s Reuben Foster who’s available, I’m doing it, but the Redskins never draft character flags in the 1st.

Christian McCaffrey will probably go top-10, but he is the one guy on offense who would really excite me. He changes everything. You can run anything when he’s on the field because he’s an exceptional slot receiver. Defensive coordinators would cower.

I’ve said for weeks that edge rusher is the most likely single position. Haason Reddick is ideal because he can probably play ILB on 1st and 2nd downs, then rush on 3rd. He is a freak athlete, quick-twitch, and highly productive. He’s probably my favorite pick of the more reasonable possibilities.

If Reddick is gone, my favorite pass rushers are not the ones most commonly mentioned as mid-1st targets. I like Tyus Bowser for that twitch (and inside versatility), and I strongly suspect that Bruce Allen has a major crush on TJ Watt — production, potential, family ties, and marketability.

There you have it. Now enjoy the Caps game.

The Wizards Forgot How To Shoot Straight

After the Wiz went up 2-0 on the Hawks, I got a full head of steam in the general direction of “THEY’RE GOING TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE ’70s”

And now that they’ve dropped two in Atlanta, I’ve reversed it all the way back to “HOW THE HELL ARE THEY LOSING PLAYOFF GAMES TO JOSE CALDERON AND KENT BAZEMORE”

The truth is somewhere in the middle, alongside the fact that the Wizards forgot how to put the ball in the basket.

Aside from John Wall, who is having a bit of a moment, and Brandon Jennings, who only plays 15 minutes per game, every single player in Washington’s rotation is in a four-game shooting slump. As measured by effective field-goal percentage:

Bradley Beal — down from .566 to .478
Marcin Gortat — down from .579 to .552
Otto Porter — down from .608 to .483
Markieff Morris — down from .497 to .380
Bojan Bogdanovic — down from .553 to .379
Jason Smith — down from .585 to .500
Kelly Oubre — down from .482 to .409

I realize it’s generally harder to score in the playoffs, and Atlanta is a good defensive team, but most of those aren’t even close.

The series starts anew — best of three, now — tomorrow night back in D.C. Get buckets.

The Orioles Are Doing It Again

After a long and severe drought in which Baltimore posted a losing record every season from 1998-2011 (!), the O’s won more regular-season games than any other AL team the past five years. We needed that.

They’re at it again. At 12-5, they have the AL’s best record. That’s a 114-win pace.

This after pretty much every expert prediction and forecasting model had them winning something like 80 games. Even after accounting for the fast start, Fangraphs only has them winning 85, and Baseball Prospectus has Baltimore going 67-78 the rest of the way.

That’s just what happens when your rotation is Dylan Bundy and pray for rain. It happened last year, when SI picked Baltimore to win 69 games. (They won 89 and made the playoffs for the third time in five years.)

Hell, it happens every year.

And the thing is, they’re not even playing that well. For all their slugging, they only score 4.00 runs per game, down from 4.59 last year. That drop is offset by their overall pitching improvement, though. Thanks to their remarkable bullpen, Baltimore’s team ERA is down to 3.53 from 4.22.

That ERA is bound to come back to Earth, but Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo aren’t going to slump for six months, either. Plus, Chris Tillman (16-6 last year with a 3.77 ERA) returns in a couple weeks.

Add it up and we’re looking at another contender in Birdland. When it rains, it pours.

Predicting The Redskins’ Record Now That Their 2017 Schedule Is Out

Here’s the slate, courtesy of your Washington Redskins:

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 8.06.15 AM

And here are my predictions, based on a few assumptions:

A) Kirk Cousins isn’t traded and returns as the quarterback.

B) The draft, like free agency before it, goes reasonably well.

C) Daniel Snyder and Bruce Allen don’t go and get any big ideas.

Admittedly, these are large assumptions. On with the show:

Week 1 — Philadelphia

The Skins beat them twice last year, and this one’s at home, though I can’t properly convey how much a home opener against Philly scares me. Win. 1-0.

Week 2 — at the Rams

LA won four games last year and had -160 net points. They also hired Sean McVay, whose claim to fame is being super-young and a pretty good No. 2 to the legendary Jay Gruden. Win. 2-0.

Week 3 — Raiders

Sunday Night Football. Loss. 2-1.

Week 4 — at Kansas City

Monday Night Football. Loss. 2-2.

Week 5 — bye

Week 6 — 49ers

The Shanahans can stick it. Win. 3-2.

Week 7 — at Philly

This year feels like a split. Loss. 3-3.

Week 8 — Dallas

The Cowboys swept last year, and there’s no reason to think they’re any worse (or the Skins are any better) this year. Loss. 3-4.

Week 9 — at Seattle

“At Seattle” gives me nightmares. Loss. 3-5.

Week 10 — Minnesota

Win. 4-5.

Week 11 — at New Orleans

This is probably the most desirable game for a Mr. I road trip. Win. 5-5.

Week 12 — Giants

Thanksgiving night. I like a split with NY. Win. 6-5.

Week 13 — at Dallas

Thursday Night Football. Probably the toughest game on the sked. Loss. 6-6.

Week 14 — at the Chargers

Two LA games in one year. How exciting. Win. 7-6.

Week 15 — Cardinals

If this was in Arizona, I’d go the other way. Win. 8-6.

Week 16 — Broncos

If this was in Denver, I’d go the other way. Win. 9-6.

Week 17 — at the Giants

Win and they’re in. Loss. 9-7.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Bradley Beal Is Becoming So Much Like Ray Allen It’s Kinda Weird

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 9.55.03 AM

On a recent podcast with Zach Lowe, Bill Simmons got to talking about how Bradley Beal’s best NBA player comp is future HOFer Ray Allen. That should sound familiar to keen-eared NBA fans, including readers of this site, which wrote back in May 2012 that “Beal’s game is persistently compared to Allen’s.”

After reading about the Beal-Allen comparison yet again in Five Thirty Eight’s excellent look at Beal’s elevated level of play, I figure it’s time to check in. Through their first five seasons:

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 9.59.20 AM

Allen was more durable and shot better from the stripe. He also was a more active rebounder and assist-maker, but he turned it over more, too.

It’s worth noting, though, that Beal was a one-and-done at Florida, entering the league at 19. Allen was 21 as a rookie, with three seasons at UConn under his belt.

Hopefully Beal goes on to enjoy a similarly illustrious 18-year career, which saw Allen make 10 All-Star teams and win multiple NBA championships.

And hopefully Beal doesn’t bounce around to four different teams in the process. He’s doing fine in Washington, D.C.