The Sports Report: Max Scherzer (Mets) and Corey Seager (Rangers) won’t be with Dodgers next season
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The Dodgers’ pivotal offseason took two turns for the worse Monday.
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First, Max Scherzer chose the New York Mets in the morning. Hours later, Corey Seager, another star free agent, opted not to return to Los Angeles. The shortstop instead agreed to sign a 10-year, $325-million contract with the suddenly free-spending Texas Rangers, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Seager’s deal includes a limited no-trade clause but no opt-outs. He joins a club that has committed $556 million to three players over the last two days. On Monday, the Rangers gave infielder Marcus Semien $175 million over seven years after a resurgent 2021 season with the Toronto Blue Jays. They then signed right-hander Jon Gray to a four-year, $56-million deal.
It’s a historic spending spree for a club coming off a 60-win, last-place season — and it might not be over. The Rangers are also in the hunt for Clayton Kershaw, who grew up minutes from Globe Life Field and lives in Dallas during the offseason. Kershaw, a free agent for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, is expected to choose between Texas and the Dodgers.
Seager, 27, will reunite with Rangers manager Chris Woodward, who served as Dodgers third base coach from 2016 through 2018. He’ll also join several former Dodgers players the Rangers have picked up since Woodward took the helm in 2019, including Dennis Santana, Josh Sborz, DJ Peters, Billy McKinney and Zach Reks.
For Seager, this offseason represented the first time he could secure a major payday by Major League Baseball standards. He’ll now play his home games where he enjoyed his greatest success as a major leaguer during the 2020 postseason when he was named NLCS and World Series MVP in leading the Dodgers to the championship in Arlington, Texas, to complete the pandemic-shortened campaign.
When healthy, Seager is one of the premier hitters in the majors. He batted .297 with 104 home runs and an .870 on-base-plus-slugging percentage at a premium position in his seven seasons in Los Angeles. He was named the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year. He’s a two-time All-Star.
But staying on the field has been a problem. He reached 100 games played in three of his five complete 162-game seasons. This season, he was limited to 95 games after missing more than two months with a fractured right hand followed by a hamstring injury he suffered during rehab.
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Andrew Greif on the Clippers: A day after they were undone by the greatest shooter in NBA history, the Clippers’ attempts to get back on track Monday were thwarted by an even more dangerous offensive weapon.
The New Orleans center made one three-pointer in his first five seasons before blooming into a capable, if not prolific, deep shooter amid the last half of his career but against the Clippers this season, and Monday in particular, he made Stephen Curry’s second-half show from one day earlier inside Staples Center look positively inefficient.
Less than two weeks after making a then-career high five three-pointers in a win over the Clippers, Valanciunas made his first seven three-pointers Monday to riddle the league’s second-ranked defense on his way to 39 points, 15 rebounds and a 123-104 Pelicans win.
In one 66-second stretch of the half, Valanciunas made three three-pointers to induce groans inside the arena while pushing the Pelicans’ lead to 21.
It was a jarring finish to a first half that began with so much promise for the Clippers – just as this team began November with seven consecutive wins, only to finish it with six losses in its last nine games.
Looking nothing like the team that committed 26 turnovers while mustering only 90 points Sunday against Golden State, the Clippers scored on their first five possessions. Perhaps the most promising development was reserve center Serge Ibaka’s strongest performance since returning from the G League last week, as he made three of his first four three-pointers for 13 points.
The Clippers shot 51% overall, their best shooting night since Nov. 13, and 38% from behind the three-point arc, but there were ominous signs when New Orleans (6-17) matched them shot-for-shot, making seven of their first eight field goals, and didn’t slow down behind Valanciunas’ offensive outburst.
Dan Woike on the Lakers: It felt like it was only five minutes ago that the Lakers’ tired defense helplessly watched the younger, and maybe hungrier, Sacramento Kings score without any notable resistance in the third overtime Friday night.
So when the Lakers see the Kings again, this time in Sacramento on Tuesday, they probably will play with some extra snarl, ready to outwork a team they believe just stole a win from them.
“We should play with that type of aggression every time on the floor,” coach Frank Vogel said Monday. “We want to be a team that takes pride in that.”
The Lakers haven’t been that type of team — they haven’t been a lot of things consistently this season except for confusing. Yet the team is slowly discovering its identity as it gets healthier.
One wrinkle that seems like it could be here to stay is LeBron James acting as the team’s center in some lineups with Anthony Davis off the court.
“He’s the most versatile player in the game,” Vogel said of James. “The ability to play point, the ability to play center — but the definition of those positions has blended in the modern NBA. Centers bring it up and initiate. Point guards roll to the basket.
“It’s a different game now, but to have someone that can be effective as a roller or as a playmaker with the ball is just an incredible weapon.”
Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Trojans: Lincoln Riley isn’t the only person Oklahoma will lose in USC’s blockbuster deal to secure its next coach.
As soon as USC announced the stunning move Sunday to bring the 38-year-old coach west, Oklahoma began hemorrhaging recruits. Assistant coaches came next.
Riley started his first USC coaching staff by pulling from his former staff at Oklahoma, inviting two assistants, the head strength coach and the director of football operations with him to his introductory news conference Monday at the Coliseum.
“These guys got on a plane with me this morning, without a contract, without anything,” Riley said. “They have been instrumental in our success at Oklahoma and I think it says a lot that they wanted to be here with you, with all of us and I can’t imagine doing it with any other guys.”
Gary Klein on the Rams: Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a hip injury during the Rams’ defeat to the Green Bay Packers, but the issue is not expected to affect his status for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at SoFi Stadium, coach Sean McVay said Monday.
McVay said Beckham, who caught a 54-yard touchdown pass in the 36-28 loss at Lambeau Field, “got his back checked out, and he’s good on that front.” But Beckham did suffer what McVay described as a “posterior hip pointer.”
“We’ll be able to treat and pad that,” McVay said during a videoconference with reporters.
Sam Farmer on Lee Elder: The pioneering Lee Elder, who in 1975 broke the color barrier as the first Black golfer to play in the Masters, died Sunday night at age 87. His death was announced by the PGA Tour and first reported by African American Golfer’s Digest.
Elder, who lived in a senior community in Escondido, was honored at Augusta National in April when he joined Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on the tee box for the ceremonial first drives of the tournament. Although he couldn’t match the combined nine green jackets of those golf legends — his best finish at the Masters was a tie for 17th in 1979 — Elder garnered the loudest applause. He hoped to hit a shot of his own but instead acknowledged the gallery from his golf cart.
“For me and my family, I think it was one of the most emotional experiences that I have ever witnessed or been involved in,” Elder said following the ceremony, attended by dozens of Black club pros from around the country. “It is certainly something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Elder made 448 starts on the PGA Tour with four victories, including the 1974 Monsanto Open in Pensacola, Fla., which earned him an invitation to the Masters. During that Florida tournament, he received death threats and was accompanied by armed security guards as he walked down the middle of the fairways.
“When I won at Pensacola, they had received calls that if I won the tournament I would never get out of there alive,” he told the Los Angeles Times in March. “So when I made the putt to win and I was going out to join my friends, Jim Vickers and Harry Toscano, they had beers in their hands ready for me. Jack Tuthill, who was then the tour supervisor, grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, you can’t go out there.’ I said, ‘Why can’t I?’ He said for me to get in the car so they could drive me back to the clubhouse. In the car, he told me about the threats.
“The ceremony was given inside the clubhouse. We couldn’t do it outside. That was the decision of the people there. I was ready to get my trophy and my check and get out of there.”
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1941 — The Chicago Bears score 49 points in the second half to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 49-13.
1956 — Floyd Patterson knocks out Archie Moore in the fifth round to win the world heavyweight title in Chicago.
1969 — Russ Jackson throws a record four touchdowns to lead the Ottawa Rough Riders to a 29-11 victory over Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL Grey Cup championship.
1979 — Sugar Ray Leonard wins the WBC welterweight title with 15th-round knockout of Wilfred Benitez in Las Vegas.
1987 — Bo Jackson, also an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals, rushes for 221 yards to lead the Los Angeles Raiders to a 37-14 rout of the Seattle Seahawks. Jackson, playing in his fifth NFL game, scores on runs of 91 and 2 yards and has a 14-yard touchdown reception.
1990 — Boston’s Larry Bird scores his 20,000th career point in the Celtics’ 123-95 win over Washington at the Garden. Bird is the fifth player in league history (along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West) to gather 20,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 5,000 assists in his playing career.
1991 — San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk becomes the first freshman to capture the national rushing and scoring titles after gaining 154 yards on 27 carries in a 39-12 loss to top-ranked Miami.
1996 — Michael Jordan becomes the 10th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 points after scoring 35 in the Bulls 97-88 win at San Antonio. Jordan reaches 25,000 in 782 games, faster than any other player but Wilt Chamberlain (691).
2003 — Mark Philippoussis gives Australia its 28th Davis Cup title, fighting off a shoulder injury that nearly forces him to retire after the fourth set to beat Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 2-6, 6-0.
2008 — Keith Tkachuk reaches 1,000 career points with the tying goal late in the second period in St. Louis’ 4-2 victory over Atlanta.
2008 — Oakland has only one catch by a wide receiver in its 20-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and that officially was for 0 yards by Ronald Curry on a hook-and-lateral play.
2012 — NBA Commissioner David Stern fines the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for “a disservice to the league and our fans” when they don’t bring Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Danny Green to Miami for the final game of a six-game trip.
2012 — Georgetown and Tennessee hold each other scoreless over the final four minutes, and the Hoyas beat the Volunteers 37-36 in a display of abysmal shooting in the SEC/Big East Challenge. The teams combine to make just 7 of 20 shots — from the free throw line. The field-goal shooting is just as horrid, with the Vols hitting 33% and the Hoyas 36%.
2013 — Chris Davis races 100-plus yards with a missed field-goal attempt for a touchdown on the final play to lift No. 4 Auburn to a 34-28 victory over No. 1 Alabama. Davis catches the ball about 9 yards deep in the end zone after freshman Adam Griffith’s 57-yard attempt falls short. He sprints down the left sideline and cuts back with nothing but teammates around him in a second straight hard-to-fathom finish for the Tigers.
Supplied by the Associated Press
Auburn beats Alabama in 2013 when running a missed field goal back for a touchdown on the final play of the game. Watch and listen here.
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