Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The Chicago Cubs. The Big Question: Is Theo Epstein pushing the Cubs any closer to contention? He most definitely is,…
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Before the Nationals' weekend series against the Cardinals that started on Friday, a former player and current pal of Dusty Baker named Kirk Rueter stopped by to say hello. It was there when things took a turn for the weird, according to USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale.
As a pitcher under Baker with the Giants, Rueter apparently developed a reputation for having incredibly good fortune. With that in mind, Baker — whose team had just been swept at home by the Phillies — wanted to take advantage of his penchant for luck.
So he had his buddy walk through Washington's clubhouse and told his roster to rub his ears.
Yes, this is a thing that happened.
The bizarre superstition, of course, seemed to work, considering the Nats took all three games from St. Louis, an organization that has given them fits before. Next up is a four-game tilt in Kansas City. Rueter better bring his ears.
Former Maryland kicker Brad Craddock went undrafted over the weekend, but has now caught on with the Cleveland Browns, he announced via Twitter on Sunday.
Craddock, who won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best kicker during his junior season, is a native of Australia. He came to Maryland as a punter before becoming a placekicker.
Over the course of his four-year career at Maryland, Craddock made 57 of his 70 field goal attempts. That number includes a school-record 57-yard field goal against Ohio State in 2014.
Very thankful for the opportunity to continue kicking. Looking forward to getting up to Cleveland. #Browns— brad craddock (@BRADCRAD) May 2, 2016
The acquisiton of Josh Norman is a move that'll have far-reaching consequences across the Redskins franchise. The pass rush, for one, will benefit, as Norman should blanket opposing receivers for longer amounts of time and allow the big boys more opportunities to reach the quarterback. The offense should profit as well, as the corner will likely provide the unit shorter fields to work with as he generates some turnovers.
The transaction will also help individuals, too, like DeAngelo Hall. The 32-year-old, who will be lining up at safety in 2016 after experimenting with it near the end of last season, said as much during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny Show on Monday.
"To add a guy like Josh Norman, it's going to be amazing for us," Hall said, before adding that the All-Pro's presence will make his job much easier. "I was all about trying to get him."
As it turns out, the veteran played a minor but key role in recruiting Norman. Hall said team president Bruce Allen asked him about flying to Atlanta along with defensive coordinator Joe Barry and secondary coach Perry Fewell for the two sides' initial meeting, but Hall was already there — and had already been in touch with him.
"I had been texting Josh prior to that," he said. "I knew that they liked him... I couldn't wait to give him my spiel and my pitch."
The organization's strategy obviously worked, as Norman arrived to the team's facility a free agent and left it under contract. Now one of the premier members of the Burgundy and Gold, he'll be expected to contribute to Washington's overall progress.
In Hall's mind, that means not being satisfied with 2015's achievements.
"We just got to keep raising the bar," he said. "We just want to follow that up with another stellar year. I definitely think we have the tools and the guys on this football team to be as good as we want to be."