Should the Knicks match offer for Jeremy Lin?

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Should the Knicks match offer for Jeremy Lin?

From Comcast SportsNet
Back in February, Jeremy Lin was Kobe Bryant's equal on the court and at the souvenir stand during a mesmerizing period that NBA commissioner David Stern said he had "never quite seen anything like." There was no way the New York Knicks were letting Lin get away back then, when he was the biggest thing in the basketball. Things are different now. Lin no longer plays for a coach whose offense seems designed for him. He's coming off knee surgery and would come at a monstrous cost -- thanks to an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets he signed -- even for one of the league's richest teams. So what once would have been an easy answer now creates so many questions. Do the Knicks want Lin back? Does Lin want to go back? When will it be resolved? The last one should be resolved the easiest. Teams have three days to match an offer sheet for their restricted free agents, so the Rockets believe the clock expires late Tuesday. Except the Knicks have never confirmed if they received the offer sheet from the Rockets on Saturday, so it's possible they have a different deadline in mind, which could even lead to some kind of dispute or protest. The contract is for three years and about 25 million, an enormous figure for someone who has made 25 starts. After paying Lin about 5 million per year the first two seasons, it balloons to nearly 15 million in the final year but would cost the Knicks more than twice that in luxury tax payments under the harsher penalties in the new collective bargaining agreement. The terms of the original offer Lin had agreed to were for four years and about 28 million, creating speculation that he went back to the Rockets and asked for something that would be tougher for the Knicks to match. A number of fans want them to do it anyway, more than 5,000 signing an online petition at Change.org asking the Knicks to keep him. Team officials, who repeatedly said they intended to keep Lin before he signed the offer, won't comment on their plans now. "I hope we get it done, man. I hope we can get it done," Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said. "I would love to see him back, honestly, I would definitely love to see him back. But knowing the business of basketball, it's kind of a tough situation, kind of for both parties. With Jeremy, I know he definitely would want to be back in New York, and with the team, (owner James) Dolan definitely wants him back." Anthony had called the Rockets' offer a "ridiculous contract" on Sunday and said he wasn't surprised by the backlash that followed. "It was ridiculous for them to do what they did, as far as throwing that out there and making it tough on us to sign him back," Anthony said. Maybe the Knicks could have avoided this by making Lin an offer right away. Instead they let him find one elsewhere first, which is what many teams do with restricted free agents. Given his popularity in New York and all the opportunities that affords, it's difficult to imagine he'd want to sabotage his chances of returning. Yet maybe he doesn't see the same potential for himself under Mike Woodson as he showed in Mike D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense. Or perhaps he's one of the many who sees the futility of the Anthony-Amare Stoudemire pairing and doesn't want the burden of being the point guard charged with making it work. And maybe the Knicks don't believe he is, anyway. They made a veteran point guard a top priority in free agency, missing out on Steve Nash but signing Jason Kidd. Then they agreed to a sign-and-trade with Portland to bring back Raymond Felton to New York in a deal that was completed on Monday. None brings the marketing potential of Lin, whose story of undrafted Harvard Universty graduate to unexpected NBA star was a hit around the world. (How many other players went into free agency with "Time" magazine list of top 100 most influential people on their resume?) That gives Houston plenty of reason to want him back. The NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent would continue to grow the popularity the Rockets already enjoy in Asia thanks to their retired star, Yao Ming. The Rockets had Lin on their roster during the preseason before waiving him, with two point guards ahead of him on the depth chart and an open roster spot needed to add a big man. It wasn't long before they wished they'd done differently, general manager Daryl Morey writing on Twitter during Lin's dazzling span, when he averaged 24.6 points and 9.2 assists in 10 games from Feb. 4-20, that cutting Lin was a mistake. Now it's up to the Knicks. Keep Linsanity where it was born or risk the same regret.

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Nats' Dusty Baker talks about slapping Trea Turner's butt, things get weird

Nats' Dusty Baker talks about slapping Trea Turner's butt, things get weird

Manager Dusty Baker was asked about Trea Turner's surprising strength on Thursday night and, well, his answer was a bit unexpected.

You could say things got a little weird. Baker started talking about Turner's build and his description got quite specific:

"He’s wiry-strong. You can tell by that ball he hit down the line. That’s a big man’s swing right there. He’s stronger than he appears. And he’s going to get stronger yet, when he gets his man-muscles or his man-bones or whatever you call it. Heh-heh. Cause today I tapped him on the butt, and I was like: ‘Man, you’re hard as a rock.’ And he said: ‘Well, I should be. It’s all bone.’”

Okay, then. Now, that's a quote. 

Baker also described Max Scherzer's between-the-legs on Thursday night in terms that included the male anatomy:

"First time I’ve seen that. Good thing that ball didn’t hop up on him, know what I mean?”

Just another night with Dusty Baker, one of the funniest people in sports.

[RELATED: Strasburg plays catch, Nats say injury not in area of Tommy John surgery]

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Max Scherzer digs down deep to help Nats, shut up Orioles fans

Max Scherzer digs down deep to help Nats, shut up Orioles fans

Despite his team holding a comfortable division lead in the final week of August, there was plenty on the line to motivate Max Scherzer on Thursday night at Nationals Park.

He was tasked with stopping his team's four-game losing streak against a team in the Baltimore Orioles that was aiming for a four-game sweep. Going back to last season, the O's had won six consecutive games over the Nats. They had their number. They smelled blood. And because of the proximity of the team's stadiums, they had some of their friends lacing the audience dressed in orange.

The Nationals' bullpen also needed a favor. Rookie starter Reynaldo Lopez went just 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday and Tanner Roark was bounced after five the following night. Last week Nats relievers were plagued by even shorter outings from the rotation, rain delays and injuries.

Simply put, the Nationals needed Scherzer to be the ace they paid him $210 million to be. They needed 'Mad Max.'

So, Scherzer stepped out of the dugout and into the view of a sellout crowd on Thursday night with that crazed looked in his eye, that 20-strikeout, 'you'll be lucky to get any hits at all' kind of look. He was ready to be the aggressor against an Orioles lineup that is as aggressive and powerful as they come.

"They have a lot of guys that have a lot of thump in their lineup and the past three nights, I had really been watching them," Scherzer said. "I was going through my experience and really coming up with a gameplan of how I needed to pitch against them."

Scherzer used that preparation to charge out to a fantastic start with six strikeouts in his first eight at-bats. He carved up the Orioles to the tune of eight shutout innings with 10 strikeouts, no walks and just two hits allowed. That set the stage for just the fifth time the O's have been shut out this season.

"That’s what aces do," manager Dusty Baker said. "He shut down a very high–powered offense. There were only a couple balls hit hard off him. Had quite a few strikeouts. Boy, that was a masterful, masterful job by Max."

It was the 11th time Scherzer has posted double-digit strikeouts in a game this season, more than any other MLB pitcher. That tied the Nats club record he set himself just last year.

His 10th strikeout was against Orioles catcher Matt Wieters in the eighth inning. He then got J.J. Hardy to fly out to end the frame and his night after 95 pitches.

Scherzer had every reason to keep pushing late in his start, but there was something in the park on Thursday that gave him some extra motivation.

"I gave everything I got there in the eighth, the O's fans started making noise there in the eighth and that really kind of ticked me off. When they're sitting out there cheering at our park, I didn't like that," he said.

That, of course, was a minor consideration for Scherzer. More important to him was saving the aforementioned bullpen, which has been taxed more than any part of their roster during this current stretch of 20 games in 20 days.

"I knew I needed to pitch deep into the game tonight. Our bullpen has been taxed, and I really needed to try and get deep into the game to try and help those guys out. That was huge to get into the eighth and complete the eighth and just turn the ball over to Mark [Melancon], so that was a first and foremost thing that I knew I needed to do tonight," he said.

[RELATED: Nats' Ross making quick progress, may start rehab assignment soon]

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Jimenez was good, but Scherzer was too much for Orioles in series finale

Jimenez was good, but Scherzer was too much for Orioles in series finale

WASHINGTON---Thrust in the starting rotation because Chris Tillman is on the disabled list, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a creditable game on Thursday night. 

Jimenez’s issue was that Max Scherzer was nearly perfect. 

The Orioles had just two hits in eight innings against Scherzer as the Washington Nationals beat the Orioles 4-0 before a sellout crowd of 39,722 at Nationals Park. 

After winning the first three games against the Nationals (74-53), the Orioles (70-57) were shut down completely by the great Scherzer, who struck out 10 in his eight innings without walking a batter. He threw 95 pitches. 

Jimenez allowed one run on five hits, striking out four without walking a batter in six innings. 

“I think everybody was pulling for him. He’s such a good young man, just needed it. I almost took him out after the fifth, but he said he felt good and wanted to go there. but we needed those six innings. We’re still having trouble pitching that last inning. It’s been a challenge for us, but Ubaldo kept us in the game. There’s a game there to be won if we could keep that thing at 1-0,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Logan Ondrusek allowed three runs in the eighth. 

Scherzer (14-7) quickly retired the first nine Orioles, striking out six of them before Adam Jones doubled to left, leading off the fourth. That was the Orioles’ only baserunner. 

After setting down the next 12, Mark Trumbo singled to lead off the eighth. 

Jayson Werth led off the fourth with a long home run to center field off JImenez and the Nationals had a 1-0 lead.  

Jimenez won the plaudits of his manager and teammates. 

“I want to talk about how Ubaldo threw the ball. He went out there and I’m pretty sure many people didn’t expect him to do what he did. Six innings. One pitch I know he wants to have back, but he threw the hell out of the ball,” Jones said. 

Jones was pinch hit for in the ninth inning, and Showalter said he was taken out as a precaution.

“He had a cramp in the hamstring in one leg. Felt it earlier in the game, and I just didn’t like the description. I talked to him when he came off the field in the bottom of the 8th. It’s just not worth taking a chance, because we really don't have much depth at that position either,” Showalter said. 

Jones dismissed questions about his injury as he generally does when he’s hurt. “I’m good, so it doesn’t matter,” Jones said. He did say he planned on playing Friday. 

Jimenez’s turn will come up against Toronto on Tuesday. This year, Jimenez has allowed 12 runs on 15 hits in 7 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays.

“I haven’t even gotten that far on. I don’t know what else he has to do,” Showalter said. “We’ll step back and take a look at it and continue to try to put our best foot forward. He certainly did tonight.”

Jimenez was pleased with how well he pitched in his first start since July 28 against the Twins.

“That’s everything I’ve done in my career, start. I know why I was put in the bullpen, but it’s very good to have this one and the one in Minnesota too. Hopefully, I get some more, but wherever they put me, I’m going to try to do the best I can to be there for the team,” Jimenez said. 

He enjoyed the matchup with one of the game’s best. 

“As a starting pitcher, that’s one of the games that you dream of, because it gets you going. You have to bring your A-game, because that guy’s tough to hit,” Jimenez said. 

The Orioles were aggressive against Scherzer, but it didn’t work

“I guess so, but that didn’t rattle him. He kept back. He had a plan. He executed it. He was using all his pitches tonight. He was very difficult to face, and he did a good job,” Steve Pearce said. 

The game got away in the eighth when Ondrusek pitched his second inning. Mike Wright came on after the first three batters of the inning got on. 

Trea Turner, who was 10-for-13 in the last three games of the series, singled to begin the inning. Werth singled, and Daniel Murphy doubled down the right field line to score Turner. Bryce Harper’s double scored two more for a 4-0 lead. 

Showalter said that the team might have to make one or two moves because neither Ondrusek nor Wright would be available on Friday.

One of the possible additions, T.J. McFarland pitched a perfect inning for Bowie. 

NOTE: The Orioles open a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 5.08) faces Luis Cessa (3-0, 4.01).  

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