The Sports Report: Dodgers get Freddie Freeman
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
From Jack Harris: It lurked in the background throughout Major League Baseball’s three-month lockout.
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Freddie Freeman’s reported frustration with the Atlanta Braves. His seemingly natural fit in the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup. And the possibility that, whenever baseball came back, he could come to Los Angeles in one of the biggest splashes of the offseason.
On Wednesday, it all came to fruition, with Freeman agreeing to terms on a deal with the Dodgers, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The contract, which is worth six years and $162 million, is the culmination of a once-quiet offseason for the team that is finishing with a seismic bang, giving the Dodgers four former MVPs on their roster.
It was only last October that Freeman was opposite the Dodgers, one of the driving forces behind a Braves team that knocked off the Dodgers in six games in the National League Championship Series en route to a World Series championship. Though Freeman is originally from Orange County, he was hailed as a hero in Atlanta. And going into the winter, his return to the Braves felt close to being a foregone conclusion.
But once free agency opened, a gulf developed between Freeman and the Braves, who were reportedly reluctant to offer him a sixth year. When the lockout began at the start of December, the 32-year-old was still a free agent. And from there, rumors of his frustration with the club — especially after the Braves’ 2021 profits of $111 million were made public last month — continued to build.
That opened the door for the Dodgers, who were in need of another left-handed bat in the middle of the order after Corey Seager’s departure to the Texas Rangers. The Dodgers weren’t the only suitor for Freeman, with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays also linked with the highly coveted first baseman.
But, the appeal to return home to Southern California, with a team built for a World Series run, proved to be too much for Freeman, who probably will take over as the Dodgers’ everyday first baseman and slide Max Muncy either to second base or designated hitter.
Hernández: Dodgers show Freddie Freeman the love that the Braves wouldn’t
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NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT
From Ben Bolch: He was flying high over the Rocky Mountains with America’s darling college basketball team … and they were all about to die.
What sounded like the fictional Rolling Stone magazine story involving the rock band Stillwater in “Almost Famous” was terrifyingly real for Mick Cronin. His UCLA Bruins were about 90 minutes into a chartered flight to Milwaukee to play Marquette in December when a jarring announcement came over the loudspeakers: The plane needed diverting.
No reason was given, but word quickly spread to Cronin in the coach’s seat near the front of the converted Boeing 737. The cockpit windshield had shattered. The plane needed to land immediately.
The Bruins’ bid to reach a second consecutive Final Four has rarely been the-seatbelt-sign-is-now-off smooth. There have been some wacky setbacks, leading scorer Johnny Juzang falling off a scooter, center Myles Johnson accidentally elbowing two teammates in the face and forward Mac Etienne getting cited by police for allegedly spitting at taunting Arizona fans.
Three players went down because of serious knee injuries, two lost for the season. Guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. constantly dealt with bad ankles. Top defender Jaylen Clark sustained several blows to the head that sidelined him for extended stretches. The team didn’t play for 26 days after a COVID-19 outbreak.
Some might say the Bruins have done well just to make it this far. Fourth-seeded UCLA (25-7) will open the NCAA tournament on Thursday evening at the Moda Center against 13th-seeded Akron (24-9) after pushing through a slew of difficulties, none more dire than the crisis at 30,000 feet.
NCAA tournament bracket picks: J. Brady McCollough’s prediction for every game
Roundtable: Here’s what UCLA and USC need to do to earn NCAA tournament success
Results and schedule
at Dayton, Ohio
South: No. 16 Wright State 93, No. 16 Bryant 82
West: No. 11 Notre Dame 89, No. 11 Rutgers 87 (2 OT)
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Georgia State, 1:15 p.m., TNT
No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Vermont. 6:20 p.m., TNT
No. 5 Connecticut vs. No. 12 New Mexico State, 3:50 p.m., TNT
No. 8 Boise State vs. No. 9 Memphis, 10:45 a.m., TNT
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Norfolk State, 11 a.m., TBS
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s, 4:10 p.m., CBS
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Akron, 6:50 p.m., TBS
No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 Indiana, 4:20 p.m., TBS
No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 10 San Francisco, 6:40 p.m., CBS
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Marquette, 1:30 p.m., TBS
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Texas Southern, 6:57 p.m., truTV
No. 4 Providence vs. No. 13 South Dakota State, 9:40 a.m., truTV
No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Richmond, 12:10 p.m., truTV
No. 8 San Diego State vs. No. 9 Creighton, 4:27 p.m., truTV
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Longwood, 11:45 a.m., CBS
No. 6 Colorado State vs. No. 11 Michigan, 9:15 a.m., CBS
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 CS Fullerton, 4:10 p.m., CBS
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Montana State, 10:45 a.m., TNT
No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 11 Notre Dame/Rutgers winner, 1:15 p.m., TNT
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Davidson, 6:40 p.m., CBS
No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Yale, 11 a.m., TBS
No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech, 1:30 p.m., TBS
No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State, 9:40 a.m., truTV
No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 14 Colgate, 6:50 p.m., TBS
No. 7 USC vs. No. 10 Miami, 12:10 p.m., truTV
No. 6 LSU vs. No. 11 Iowa State. 4:20 p.m., TBS
No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 16 Wright State, 4:27 p.m., truTV
No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Delaware, 11:45 a.m., CBS
No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga, 3:50 p.m., TNT
No. 5 Houston vs. No. 12 Alabama Birmingham, 6:20 p.m., TNT
No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 9 Texas Christian, 6:57 p.m., truTV
No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Loyola of Chicago, 9:15 a.m., CBS
NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT
Schedule and results
No. 16 Howard 58, No. 16 Incarnate Word 51
No. 11 Dayton 88, No. 11 DePaul 57
No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. No. 16 Longwood, 4 p.m., ESPN2
No. 11 Florida State vs. No. 11 Missouri State, 6 p.m., ESPN2
No. 5 Virginia Tech vs. No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast, 11:30 a.m. ESPNU
No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 13 Delaware, 2 p.m., ESPNU
No. 7 Utah vs. No. 10 Arkansas, 2:30 p.m., ESPNews
No. 8 Kansas vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Fairfield, 5 p.m., ESPN2
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 16 Montana State, 7 p.m., ESPN2
No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 South Dakota. 10:30 a.m., ESPN2
No. 8 Nebraska vs. No. 9 Gonzaga, 12:30 p.m., ESPNews
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 15 Hawaii, 1 p.m., ESPN2
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 16 Albany, 3 p.m., ESPN2
No. 8 Miami vs. No. 9 South Florida, 8:30 a.m., ESPN2
No. 7 Colorado vs. No. 10 Creighton, 10:30 a.m. ESPNews
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 16 Howard, 11 a.m., ESPN
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Illinois State, 1 p.m., ESPN
No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 11 Dayton, 4:30 p.m., ESPNews
No. 3 Iowa State vs. UT Arlington, 7 p.m., ESPNU
No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Florida State/Missouri State winner, 11:30 a.m., ESPNU
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Jackson State, 2 p.m., ESPNU
No. 6 BYU vs. No. 11 Villanova, 10 a.m., ESPNews
No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Buffalo, Noon, ABC
No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 14 American, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 12 Belmont, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 5 North Carolina vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, 4:30 p.m., ESPNews
No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 13 UNLV, 7 p.m., ESPN2
No. 8 Washington State vs. No. 9 Kansas State, 8:30 a.m., ESPN2
No. 2 Connecticut vs. No. 15 Mercer, 10 a.m., ABC
No. 3 Indiana vs. No. 14 Charlotte, 10:30 a.m., ESPN2
No. 1 North Carolina State vs. No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s/Longwood winner, 11 a.m., ESPN
No. 7 Central Florida vs. No. 10 Florida, 12:30 p.m., ESPNews
No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 11 Princeton, 1 p.m., ESPN
No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 12 Massachusetts, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 IUPUI, 7 p.m., ESPNU
From Dan Woike: The Lakers can’t find the right starting lineup. They can’t find the right style of play. They can’t find the necessary effort, urgency or intensity.
And, somehow, they can’t even find rock bottom.
Someday, they’ll run out of fight. Someday, they won’t find the rope. Someday, these games will be every bit as embarrassing as they’ve been starting out.
Following horrific opening quarters against the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers were, somehow, just as bad Wednesday in Minnesota.
They missed nearly everything that wasn’t right at the rim, all 10 three-point shots failing to go through the basket to open the game. They waved their hands and hung their heads as a younger, hungrier, more athletic team highlighted all the things the Lakers aren’t.
Minnesota led by as many as 25 … but the Lakers didn’t quit. The team cut that lead down to four before crumbling late, tired and frustrated, in a 124-104 loss to the Timberwolves.
It’s not saying much, asking a team to perform it’s easiest and most important task – to compete – but under the crippling disappointment of this season, there’s a foolish optimism in the way the Lakers keep getting up.
It’s emblematic of what this season has been – mere moments of positivity surrounded by unsolvable problems.
From Broderick Turner: The chuckle came first and then the head shake was next, perhaps that being the only way for Clippers coach Ty Lue to come to grips with his team’s unrelenting schedule.
They played their seventh game in 11 nights, the Clippers at least at home facing the surging Toronto Raptors at Crypto.com Arena on Wednesday night.
As the Clippers have done so much this season, they got down big, rallied to get back in the game and had a chance to tie the game, but Marcus Morris Sr. had his potential game-tying three-pointer blocked Precious Achiuwa with 1.3 seconds left, sending LA to a 103-100 defeat to the Raptors.
The Clippers trailed by 17 points in the third but closed to within four at the end of the quarter.
The Clippers again got down by double-digits in the fourth but rallied from the 10-point deficit to trail 101-100 on a three-pointer by Nicolas Batum with 35.1 seconds left.
Fred Van Vleet missed the second of two free throws, but he got his own offensive rebound.
The Clippers allowed the Raptors to get 13 offensive rebounds, a problem they couldn’t solve.
From Gary Klein: The Rams will attempt to run it back without outside linebacker Von Miller.
On Wednesday, the Rams lost a key part of their Super Bowl-winning team when Miller announced he was signing with the Buffalo Bills. Miller revealed the news on his Instagram account. The six-year contract averages $17.5 million per year for the first four years, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
Miller, who will turn 33 this month, was traded from the Denver Broncos to the Rams last October in exchange for second- and third-round draft picks. Miller, a three-time All-Pro, had five sacks in eight regular-season games for the Rams and added four more in the playoffs, including two in the Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
After the Super Bowl, star defensive lineman Aaron Donald said the Rams could “run it back” if they kept their “super” team in place, and that included Miller.
Rams’ Super Bowl LVI starter Darious Williams makes deal with Jaguars
How the Broncos were able to keep the Russell Wilson trade with Seahawks a secret
From Jack Harris: David Price’s tenure with the Dodgers didn’t start as he expected.
After being traded with Mookie Betts in 2020 from the Boston Red Sox, the former Cy Young Award winner sat out his first season in L.A. because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, he was asked to serve in a swingman role last year, making 11 starts and 28 appearances out of the bullpen — he had a 4.03 ERA overall — as the Dodgers tried to work around injuries on their pitching staff.
This spring, the 36-year-old is hoping to rediscover more of his old form. And early in camp, he’s at least preparing for a potential return as a full-time starter.
“I’m preparing that way, yeah,” Price said. “I think it’d be silly of me to prepare to be a reliever and [then] I’m asked to start. So preparing to be a starter until otherwise.”
Price seems likely to be the odd man out of the five-man rotation, behind Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Andrew Heaney and Tony Gonsolin.
Kenley Jansen’s absence from Dodgers is noticeable. Will it become permanent?
From Mike DiGiovanna: Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon played all of 17 games together last season, Trout suffering a season-ending right calf strain on May 17 and Rendon playing through minor injuries for three months before suffering a season-ending right hip impingement in early July.
Ohtani, of course, had a spectacular season, mashing 46 homers and going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts on the mound, a two-way performance that made him a unanimous choice to win the American League most valuable player award.
Trout, a three-time AL MVP who hit .291 with a 1.083 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 45 homers and 104 RBIs in his last full season in 2019, said he felt “great” upon reporting to camp this week and has had “no issues” with the calf.
Rendon, who hit .319 with a 1.010 OPS, 34 homers and 126 RBIs in his last full season to help the Washington Nationals win the 2019 World Series, underwent hip surgery last August and completed his rehabilitation by mid-January.
The difference between how he feels this spring and last season is “night and day,” Rendon said after Wednesday’s workout. “I don’t feel anybody stabbing me in the groin anymore, that’s good.”
If Ohtani, Trout and Rendon can stay relatively healthy all season, they could form one of baseball’s most lethal middle-of-the-order trios.
Perry Minasian gets fans’ frustrations that Angels haven’t added impact player
ANGEL CITY FC
From Kevin Baxter: Angel City will kick off the 10th NWSL regular season on April 29 against the North Carolina Courage at Banc of California Stadium.
With Angel City and the San Diego Wave joining the league this season, NWSL will field a record 12 teams playing a balanced schedule, facing the 11 other teams twice, once on the road and once at home. Angel City will conclude its inaugural regular season in Chicago on Oct. 2.
San Diego will open its first season May 1 on the road against the Houston Dash. The Wave will play their home opener May 7 against NY/NJ Gotham at their temporary home at the University of San Diego. The Wave will play their final game at home against North Carolina on Sept. 30.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1897 — Bob Fitzsimmons knocks out Jim Corbett in the 14th round to win the world heavyweight title in Carson City, Nev. It’s the first boxing match photographed by a motion picture camera.
1908 — Tommy Burns knocks out Jene Roche in 80 seconds at the Royal Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, to retain the world heavyweight title.
1939 — Villanova wins first game of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, defeating Brown 42-30 in Philadelphia. Ohio State beats Wake Forest 64-52 in the second game of the doubleheader.
1940 — For the first time in NHL history, one line — The Kraut Line of Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer — finish 1-2-3 in NHL scoring when the Boston Bruins score five goals in the third period to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 7-2.
1955 — Canadien fans riot in the streets of Montreal protesting NHL President Clarence Campbell’s suspension of Maurice “Rocket” Richard the previous day. The Canadiens forfeit the game to the Detroit after a smoke bomb goes off in the Forum and crowds spill into the streets, setting fires, smashing windows and looting.
1961 — Manhattan District Attorney Frank S. Hogan arrests two professional gamblers, Aaron Wagman and Joseph Hacken, and implicates Hank Gunter and Art Hicks of Seton Hall in a collegiate point-shaving scandal.
1993 — Dallas snaps a 19-game losing streak with a 102-96 win over visiting Orlando. The Mavericks were one game away from tying the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers for the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history.
2001 — Connecticut cruises to a 101-29 win over Long Island University in the first round of the East Regional, the best defensive effort in the history of the women’s NCAA tournament. Connecticut’s 72-point victory also ties the second-biggest margin in tournament history.
2006 — Jermaine Wallace hits a fadeaway 3-pointer with a split-second left, and little Northwestern State pulls off a shocker with a furious rally, beating No. 3 seed Iowa 64-63 in the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament.
2012 — Lindsey Vonn sets a women’s record for the most World Cup points in a season after finishing eighth in a slalom won by Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser at Schladming, Austria. Vonn reaches 1,980 points to beat the mark of 1,970 set by Janica Kostelic of Croatia in 2006.
2016 — Little Rock advances with an out-of-nowhere comeback that leads to an 85-83 double-overtime victory over Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
2018 — The UConn Huskies open their NCAA Women’s Tournament with a record-setting 140-52 rout of Saint Francis (Pa.). The tournament’s top seed sets a record for points in a tournament game and all-time NCAA records for points in a period (55 in the first) and a half (94 in the first).
Supplied by the Associated Press
Fifteenth-seeded Northwestern State upsets No. 2 Iowa in 2016. Watch and listen here.
Until next time...
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