The Sports Report: Super Bowl-driven Rams add star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Howdy, I’m your host, Iliana Limón Romero, filling in for Houston Mitchell (who is off and likely plotting the best Dodgers free-agent options). Let’s get right to the news.
Gary Klein on the Rams: The recruiting effort climaxed Thursday, shortly before the Rams took the field for a midday practice.
Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey got Odell Beckham Jr. on the phone, and Rams players took turns pitching the star free-agent receiver on why L.A. was the place.
“Pretty much just receiver to receiver,” Robert Woods said. “Telling him what’s it like here in this offense … come and be a part of our team.”
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Receiver Cooper Kupp also pushed.
“We were really just telling him — obviously he’s an incredible football player — so just to have the opportunity to take the field with someone like that, to have someone like that around here would be incredible.
“We expressed some of that.”
And then general manager Les Snead — never shy about making blockbuster moves — did it again.
The Rams agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Beckham, adding another marquee player to a 7-2 team in boom-or-bust mode.
Bill Plaschke on the Rams: Three of the most famous initials in sports has joined the Rams, with one slight adjustment required to fit the situation.
The Rams signing of Odell Beckham Jr. on Thursday looks a lot like the other night when Matthew Stafford attempted to fling the football out of the end zone.
They’re wrongly attempting a hero play. They’re foolishly shooting for an unreachable star. They’re not even looking downfield.
OBJ is a legitimate celebrity, a Hollywood star, an internet click machine, that rare football player who fits every stereotype about the cool Los Angeles athlete, right down to the congratulatory tweet from LeBron James.
What he’s not, anymore, is a very good receiver. And what he does, always, is bring drama and distraction.
The Rams don’t need any of those things, yet there they were, picking him up as if they were casting “Dancing With The Stars,” seemingly ignoring the trouble he can cause for the buzz he will create.
Jeff Miller on the Chargers: Justin Herbert completed 84% of his pass attempts. Keenan Allen gained 104 yards on 12 receptions. The offensive line permitted no sacks, no quarterback hits and three pressures.
Each an impressive number, yes, only not the single most eye-catching statistic from the Chargers’ 27-24 victory Sunday at Philadelphia.
The really notable fact came from Brandon Staley three days later when the coach said tracking data used by NFL teams clocked Linval Joseph on one play reaching 16 mph.
“He’s a force of nature,” Staley said. “There aren’t many men constructed like him.”
Joseph is 6 feet 4 and 329 pounds and plays a position — nose tackle — that even sounds stagnant and squatty.
Don’t miss Sam Farmer’s NFL picks: Week 10 of the 2021 NFL season begins Thursday with the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups.
Farmer’s record last week: 8-6 (.571); season 85-51 (.625). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread last week would have been 8-6 (.571); season 66-68-2 (.493).
Teams on bye: Bears, Bengals, Texans, Giants.
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Andrew Greif on the Clippers: The Clippers seemed to be in the clear Thursday night when, with three minutes to go in the first quarter, Miami’s Bam Adebayo went to the bench.
One night after Adebayo had scored 28 points in a loss to the Lakers, the big man had blistered the Clippers for 19 points in only the game’s first nine minutes. But his exit for a rest did not yield a reprieve. Out of a timeout, Miami made four of its next five shots to grow its lead to 17 and put the Clippers in a position that was both familiar and surprising.
Early deficits have been as much a feature of this Clippers season as Chuck the Condor or questions about Kawhi Leonard’s knee (he has progressed to performing box jumps, coach Tyronn Lue said). But those were mostly the function of an offense unable to hit shots, not a filleting of one of the NBA’s top defenses, as Adebayo had done.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra knew better than anyone in the arena not to expect such a run to last. Dan Craig, the architect of a Clippers defense that entered Thursday allowing the league’s third-fewest points per 100 possessions, had designed Miami’s defenses during years as Spoelstra’s right-hand man before joining the Clippers following Miami’s 2020 Finals run.
Not even Adebayo’s start, nor Heat guard Kyle Lowry’s finish, as he scored 22 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for Miami, could break a defense or winning streak that has now reached six straight after a 112-109 win that wasn’t over until Nicolas Batum deflected Miami’s inbounds pass with four seconds to play.
“I just tried to anticipate a little bit,” Batum said. “Kyle was the guy on fire for them so kind of figure that the play was for him.”
Helene Elliott on the Lakers: Malik Monk’s scoring ability is instinctive, a gift that can’t be taught. Yet he did have to learn why his Lakers teammates nicknamed him “Microwave” during training camp — and why that was a significant show of respect and acceptance from a veteran roster whose superstars initially left him awestruck.
Monk, who spent his first four NBA seasons in Charlotte and signed a one-year contract with the Lakers as a free agent last summer for the minimum $1.789 million, has a history of heating up quickly and scoring in bursts. That was true of the original “Microwave,” Vinnie Johnson, who was noted for coming off the bench and scoring in quick, hot spurts as he helped the Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boys teams win back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.
Monk wasn’t born until 1998 and is one of the few youngsters on the league’s oldest team this season. So he can be excused for not immediately understanding what it meant when LeBron James and other Lakers revived the “Microwave” nickname and affectionately bestowed it on him. “Bron, at the beginning of the year, he told me,” Monk said.
It’s a well-earned compliment. Monk’s instant production is a welcome element on a team whose development and progress are moving at the pace of a slow cooker while they figure each other out and wait for injured players to return.
Broderick Taylor on the Lakers: Lakers rookie guard Austin Reaves, an unexpected and surprising spark, was diagnosed with a strained left hamstring, the team announced Thursday.
The Lakers said Reaves will be reevaluated in two weeks by team physicians.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before Wednesday night’s game against the Heat at Staples Center that Reaves would have to sit out after being injured during Monday night’s game against Charlotte.
Ben Bolch on UCLA basketball: The overmatched opponent vanquished, the final notes of the UCLA band’s victory song “Rover” complete, the students made their wishes known inside Pauley Pavilion.
“We want ‘Nova!” they chanted late Tuesday night. “We want ‘Nova!”
The second-ranked Bruins (1-0) will play fourth-ranked Villanova (1-0) on Friday in something of a rarity. It’s the first nonconference matchup of top-five teams at Pauley Pavilion since top-ranked Duke downed fourth-ranked UCLA on March 1, 1992.
It’s also something of an appetizer on a schedule that resembles a multicourse tasting menu. The Bruins will face top-ranked Gonzaga later this month in Las Vegas in a rematch of their epic Final Four showdown before returning to the city the week before Christmas to play No. 19 North Carolina at T-Mobile Arena.
“You go to UCLA, those are the games you want to play,” Bruins junior guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. said recently. “You don’t not want to play against the top teams and so when you have a schedule like that, you can only get excited.”
Kevin Baxter on U.S. vs. Mexico soccer: CINCINNATI — Oswaldo Sánchez played 15 years for the Mexican national team, making 99 appearances in goal and participating in three World Cups. Yet two of the most challenging games he played during that time were the qualifiers he started in the U.S.
“The United States makes good use of its home sites,” he said in Spanish. “They normally take you to play in very cold places, places where it rains. Those conditions do not exist in Mexico.”
That will be the case again Friday when the U.S. hosts Mexico in a World Cup qualifier in Cincinnati, where the forecast calls for a wind chill of 39 degrees and a chance of rain at kickoff. And weather won’t be the extent of the home-field advantage. Mexico, which typically draws huge numbers of passionate supporters in the U.S., will be facing a hostile crowd as well.
“There will not be a lot of Mexicans,” Mexican midfielder Jonathan dos Santos said. “The stands are going to be full of Americans.”
Since 2011, Mexico has played 97 games in the U.S., nearly three times as many as it played in Mexico and almost as many as the U.S. national team has played here. Most of those matches were organized by CONCACAF or New York-based Soccer United Marketing and were played in hulking NFL stadiums before pro-Mexican crowds of up to 93,000.
Jack Harris on the Angels: Shohei Ohtani’s triumphant award season rolled on Thursday, as the Angels two-way star won the Silver Slugger Award as the best designated hitter in the American League.
Ohtani became the first Angels player to ever win the Silver Slugger at DH, and the first non-outfielder since Troy Glaus in 2001. He is also only the second Japanese-born recipient of the honor, joining three-time winner Ichiro Suzuki.
The Angels have now had a Silver Slugger winner in 10 consecutive seasons (eight of the previous nine belonged to Mike Trout) and 26 overall since the award’s inception in 1980.
Ohtani beat out four other Silver Slugger finalists at DH: Yordan Álvarez of the Houston Astros, Nelson Cruz of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo of the New York Yankees.
The honor — which is determined by votes from MLB managers and coaches — was expected after Ohtani led that group in home runs (46), slugging percentage (.592), on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.965) and the all-encompassing advanced metric of OPS+ (158, meaning his overall production was 58% above league-average).
Helene Elliott on the Ducks: Bob Murray’s resignation as general manager of the Ducks will not be a setback to a team that has made substantial strides back toward playoff contention and won’t adversely impact an organization that has strong personnel in place to provide guidance, interim general manager Jeff Solomon said Thursday.
Murray resigned Wednesday, a day after the Ducks had put him on administrative leave based on preliminary results of a law firm’s investigation into allegations he had verbally abused team employees, players, and coaches. He was the third-longest tenured NHL general manager at the time of his resignation, at a few days short of 13 years. The Ducks also said Murray would enroll in an alcohol abuse program. His treatment will be paid for by club owners Henry and Susan Samueli, the Orange County-based philanthropists who bought the franchise in 2005.
Speaking to reporters in Seattle on Thursday before the Ducks’ game against the expansion Kraken, Solomon acknowledged the “truly extraordinary and difficult circumstance for me sitting up here today. This is not what I envisioned when I joined the team six months ago.” He added, “This was not part of my plan and is truly unfortunate, but this is where we find ourselves today and as a team we will get through it. We’ll move forward and we will have a very productive season moving forward, too.”
The Associated Press on the Ducks: SEATTLE — Troy Terry extended his NHL-leading scoring streak to 13 games with two goals and an assist and the Anaheim Ducks beat the Seattle Kraken 7-4 on Thursday night.
Josh Mahura scored twice to help the Ducks win their sixth in a row in their first game since general manager Bob Murray’s resignation on Wednesday amid an investigation into his conduct. Anaheim has points in eight straight games.
“I think for a lot of us getting on the ice and playing hockey is an outlet for us to get away from some of the other things that might be going on in life,” veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “It’s a situation that we surely weren’t expecting or prepared for, but we certainly know what our job is here and it’s to go out there and play.”
The Associated Press on the Kings: OTTAWA — Jonathan Quick made 34 saves and the Kings beat the short-handed Ottawa Senators 2-0 on Thursday night to extend their winning streak to seven games.
Ottawa has nine players and an assistant coach in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
On Thursday, goalie Matt Murray, defenseman Nikita Zaitsev and winger Alex Formenton were placed in the protocol. They joined defensemen Josh Brown, Victor Mete and Nick Holden, as well as forwards Austin Watson, Connor Brown and Dylan Gambrell, and associate coach Jack Capuano.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1892 — William “Pudge” Heffelfinger becomes the first pro football player by getting $500 to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Heffelfinger doesn’t disappoint his bosses, returning a fumble for a touchdown to give Allegheny a 4-0 victory.
1920 — Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis is hired as baseball’s first commissioner.
1931 — Maple Leaf Gardens opens in Toronto, with the Chicago Black Hawks winning 2-1 before 13,233 fans.
1967 — Travis Williams of Green Bay returns two kickoffs for touchdowns against Cleveland, and the Packers beat the Browns 55-7. The Packers score 45 points in the first half, 35 in the opening quarter.
1972 — Richard Petty wins a record fourth NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship after finishing third in the Texas 500.
1972 — Don Shula becomes the first NFL coach to win 100 regular-season games in 10 seasons when the Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots 52-0.
1994 — Prairie View loses 52-7 to Jackson State, breaking an NCAA Division I-AA record with 45 straight losses. Columbia lost 44 straight from 1983-88.
1995 — Miami’s Dan Marino breaks Fran Tarkenton’s NFL career record of 47,003 yards passing with a 9-yard pass to Irving Fryar during the Dolphins’ 34-17 loss to the New England Patriots.
2006 — Indianapolis edges Buffalo 17-16 to become the first team to have consecutive 9-0 records.
2007 — Top-ranked Roger Federer loses consecutive matches for the first time in 4 1/2 years, falling to No. 7 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5 at the Masters Cup.
2010 — Minnesota’s Kevin Love grabs a franchise-record 31 rebounds and scores 31 points, the NBA’s first 30-30 game in 28 years. Love grabs 15 rebounds in the third quarter alone, and the Timberwolves rally from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit to stun the New York Knicks 112-103. Moses Malone was the last player to have a 30-30 game — 32 points, 38 rebounds for Houston against Seattle in 1982.
2013 — Keith Dawson tips in a miss with less than six seconds left to give No. 2 Michigan State a 78-74 victory over top-ranked Kentucky. It’s the earliest meeting of 1 vs. 2 in AP poll history and the first since 2008.
2016 — Anthony Moeglin throws a 24-yard touchdown pass to William Woods with 39 seconds left to lift John Carroll to a 31-28 win over Mount Union. The loss ends the Purple Raiders’ NCAA-record 112-game regular-season winning streak. The Division III powerhouse hadn’t lost since Oct. 22, 2005.
2017 — Brittany Force becomes the NHRA’s first female Top Fuel season champion since Shirley Muldowney in 1982 in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals. Force is the daughter of 16-time Funny Car champion John Force.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is getting used to his team loading up established stars. Watch Stafford’s reaction to the team landing Odell Beckham Jr.
Until next time...
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