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Nado Natterings Short Takes

Nado Natterings by David Axelson | Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 5:32 pm

Seemingly, an NBA player contract and the commitment that comes with signing that contract, no longer exists, at least for the Association’s elite players. Paul George signed a four-year contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder one year ago and demanded a trade. Anthony Davis did much the same thing with the New Orleans Pelicans and has one year left on his contract, but now with the Lakers… Your Natterer was fortunate enough to stumble upon the Wimbledon third round tennis match featuring 15-year-old phenom Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff vs. Polona Hercog of Slovenia over the weekend. I joined the live broadcast at about the time Gauff was mounting her comeback which resulted in a 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 victory. Gauff has all the shots and court composure well beyond her age. Unfortunately, Monday Gauff played former World No. 1 and 2018 French Open Champion Simona Halep in the Fourth Round, losing 6-3, 6-3. Success at a young age in tennis isn’t always an accurate prediction of super-stardom, but I like her chances… Rarely has the reputation of a public figure declined as rapidly as the recent demise of Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. Sports Talk radio in Los Angeles has shifted to Johnson as one of the primary reasons for the Lakers dysfunction and losing record (37-45, .451 winning percentage) last year. Johnson didn’t help his reputation at all when he attempted to publicly insert himself into the Kawhi Leonard recruitment by his former team. Magic needs to lay low for the summer and allow fans to remember his greatness as a player, not his under-performing role in the Laker front office… Fernando Tatis, Jr. continues to impress for the San Diego Padres, as he enters the All-Star Break with some staggering rookie stats over the course of the 55 games he has played this season. Tatis has missed 40 percent of the Padres games this season due to injury. In addition to being a stellar defensive shortstop, Tatis is hitting .327, with 14 homers, nine doubles and five triples to go with 33 RBIs batting out of the lead-off spot. Mix in 46 runs scored and 13 stolen bases, and you have the embodiment of a legitimate five-tool player. The downside is he has 67 strikeouts in 55 games played, which is partly a reflection of the way the game is played currently. An additional great sign is that after being hit by a pitch on the left elbow in the Dodger game Saturday night, Tatis played Sunday and hit two homers in the game to go with four RBIs. Padres (45-45 at the All-Star Break) Manager Andy Green said of Tatis, “What a great lesson for him. He had one of his best games of the year and he was less than 100 percent. Great to see a young kid post in that situation, go out and play for his teammates.” … On the other side of the coin is the continuing saga of 28-year-old Wil Myers of the Padres. The former American Rookie of the Year (2013) and National League All-Star (2016 but remember every team has at least one representative in the All-Star Game), has seen his value continue to decline. Although he has played in 88 of the Padres 90 games this season, many of those appearances have been in a support role. He has started only two of the team’s last 13 games due in large part to his batting average this season of .217, accompanied by the fact he has struck out in more than one-third of his at-bats this season. His power production of 12 homers and 27 RBIs is paltry. Defensively, Myers doesn’t have a position, playing five spots in the past five seasons including both corner infield spots and all three outfield positions. His lack of defensive proficiency was on display in a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers last week, when he didn’t call off Tatis on a shallow outfield pop fly Myers should have handled and turned into a double. Even Manager Andy Green, seemingly the eternal optimist after commenting that Myers needed to be more aggressive said, “It’s on him. If he wants to play, it’s on him.” Myers is in the midst of a six-year $83 million contract with the Padres, which runs from 2017-2022, with a team option for 2023. His salary in 2019 is $5.5 million. Unfortunately Myers is much closer to playing his way out of the game than he is to reclaiming a starting roster spot on the much improved Padres… Chicago Cubs (47-43, .522 at the break) Manager Joe Maddon had a great quote to summarize the so-so season his team has had thus far. “It’s been a struggle. We’re not an oil painting by any means right now, but we’re hanging in there.” … The American League All-Star Team’s starting pitcher, Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros had some strong opinions on the state of the game Monday, particularly about the number and cause of the dramatic increase in home runs this season. For some context, Verlander has yielded 26 homers this season, the most in the Major Leagues. “It’s a (expletive) joke. Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings (manufacturer of the balls for Major League Baseball) and you’ve got (MLB Commissioner) Rob Manfred up there saying it might be the way they center the pill (the rubber core of the baseball). They own the (expletive) company. If any other $40 billion company (MLB) bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it’s not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred, the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden, he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not a coincidence. We’re not idiots.” … A slightly different approach came from Washington Nationals ace and former Verlander teammate with the Detroit Tigers Max Scherzer, who said, “I don’t feel anything different with the ball, but we can all see the ball is traveling differently. Yeah, the ball is different, but you can’t cry about it.” … Major League Baseball is on a path to have 1,000 more home runs hit in 2019 than in 2018, but the real problem facing the game is that entering play last weekend, there were more strikeouts (21,115) than hits (20,759). Add in 3,311 home runs, including 1,135 in the month of May alone, and there is no longer a sustained flow to the game. But yet I keep watching… And it would be foolish to not discount the continued, but smarter and more targeted use of steroids in baseball as an added element in the game’s power surge… The Better Half and I were at a pizza joint over the weekend, which had the California Angels game playing on a television situated in the corner. When Mike Trout, acknowledged as the best player of his generation and in the discussion for all-time greatness, swung at a pitch during the broadcast, he reminded me exactly of the late switch-hitting Yankee great Mickey Mantle batting from the right side… It’s seems there is no end to the current race for political correctness in the world, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver getting in on the act. NBA franchise holders are no longer to be referred to as ‘Owners’ but as ‘Governors.’ In fact, in the past some members of the NBA Board of Governors weren’t owners, but front office personnel or team attorneys. It’s a confusing and an edict that simply isn’t necessary… And finally, anyone who has ever played basketball at any level has banged knees against another player. The result is it hurts, a lot, for about two minutes and then the pain goes away. NBA No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson bruised his left knee in this manner during his first Summer League game and the New Orleans Pelicans, as a precautionary move, are holding him out of the rest of the pre-season schedule. The Pelicans said the move was precautionary and that, “Zion will move forward from this incident without issue.” The truth is Williamson isn’t in shape yet and still showed flashes of brilliance in the nine minutes he did play in the Summer League. But his line-drive, outside jump shot needs to be re-worked.