Apr 25, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) reacts after being walked during the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Happy Tuesday, Fanatics!
I don’t have anything on my mind this morning that requires a long-drawn-out explanation so we’re going to jump right into some quick hits, starting with something I’m not sure I’ve ever written about on this site — baseball.
*** It has been a long time since I was as locked into a regular-season baseball series like I was with this weekend’s Padres and Dodgers four-game tilt in LA.
This rivalry might be the best thing to happen to baseball in the last… five years? I don’t know. I’ve been such a casual follower of the sport over the last decade, but these two teams have gotten me to pay attention again.
Well, actually, one man has gotten me to pay attention again, and that man is Fernando Tatis Jr.
I’m not sure I’ve been more enthralled by a baseball player since Albert Pujols left the Cardinals. Tatis has all the talent in the world and more swag than just about any athlete I’ve ever seen on dirt.
His two home runs and trolling of Trevor Bauer to the tune of boos throughout Dodger Stadium on Saturday night were epic. He followed it up with another dinger in Sunday night’s game.
I had so much fun watching him that I added a Tatis Jr. jersey to my cart on Fanatics, and it will be mine soon. I’m back in on baseball, I’m all in on the Padres, and I’m all in on Fernando Tatis Jr. until further notice.
He’s only 22 years old and exactly the kind of star I think the game needed to breathe some fresh life into it. This is the kind of guy that can get the Tik Tok generation (a group I do not belong to) to pay a little more attention (if MLB actually allows them to watch the games, that is).
*** Props to Trevor Bauer for his response to Tatis’ celebrations during Saturday night’s game.
It would have been effortless for Bauer to say some really old-head-type things and talk about respecting the game or the “unwritten rules.” Instead, Bauer went the complete opposite direction and embraced the idea of celebration in baseball, which gave us one of my favorite baseball-centric rants in recent memory.
If you’re a pitcher and don’t want someone to toss his bat after hitting a home run, don’t give up a home run. If you’re a hitter who doesn’t like when a pitcher lets out a fist pump after a strikeout, don’t strikeout.
Do guys get offended when someone celebrates a sack on the football field (more on this shortly)? What about a slam dunk on the basketball court or a goal on the soccer pitch?
They’re part of the game. They’re part of the competition. They make sports more fun and interesting because it proves the people playing the games are, in fact, real human beings and not ball throwing or hitting robots.
Be more like Trevor Bauer, baseball players and fans.
*** After spending the majority of his first professional season as a sneaker free agent, Tyrese Haliburton will officially be getting paid to rep the swoosh.
The former Cyclone signed a shoe deal with Nike on Monday, making him the company’s most high-profile rookie in the NBA, considering LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards are wearing Puma and Adidas, respectively.
Haliburton is a well-known sneakerhead. Before the 2019 NCAA Tournament, he told me that he wore more than 10 pairs of shoes during the 2018-19 season at Iowa State, including a few ridiculously cool custom pairs made by one of his friends back in Wisconsin.
I expect he’ll continue to turn heads with his sneakers in the same way he’s turned heads with his game. The Oshkosh native notched another double-double last night for the Sacramento Kings with 14 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.
Before this season, I thought Tyrese’s ceiling was probably a high-level role player in the league. Now, as the Kings continue to grow in coming years, it wouldn’t shock me to see him and his million-dollar smile repping the swoosh in the NBA All-Star game at some point before he’s done playing in the association.
*** The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved their rule changes for the upcoming college football season, and, man, some of them are really dumb.
The first alters the best overtime in sports by forcing teams to attempt a 2-point conversion after touchdowns starting in the second overtime rather than the third like it was previously.
If the game reaches the third overtime, it will result in alternating 2-point conversion plays instead of starting at the opponent’s 25-yard line. That rule previously took effect in the fifth overtime.
So few games go three, four or five overtimes. Why mess with such a good thing? I understand wanting to eliminate some of the fatigue that could come from a game that goes to seven overtimes, but, again, they’re so infrequent that this feels like making a change for the sake of making a change.
I don’t like it.
*** One of the committee’s points of emphasis for 2021 will be penalizing any taunting action directed towards an opponent.
“Committee members think these actions reflect poorly on the game and can lead to unnecessary confrontations,” the committee wrote in its report on the rule changes.
College football is starting to sound like baseball.
We expect these kids to beat the crap out of each other for 60 minutes but not talk any smack towards the opponent when they make a big play? C’mon, man.
Defensive backs across the sport are the odds on favorites to lead the nation in violations of this (dumb) point of emphasis.
*** The last point of emphasis is directed towards coaches coming onto the playing field to argue a call made by an official. It will now be an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
I think we can call this one of the Matt Campbell Rule after his outburst towards officials in the Big 12 title game. Many kids learned some fun new words when Campbell’s anger towards the head official was caught on a hot mic during the first half.
*** The NFL Draft is this week.
If I’m Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars, I’m taking Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. How’s that for a hot take?
If I’m Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings, I’m taking the best available offensive lineman in the first round, then doing the same thing with every pick the team has in the next five rounds before taking Dylan Soehner in the seventh. I’m only partially kidding.
*** Atlantic native and Northwest Missouri State standout Ryan Hawkins has entered the transfer portal.
Widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, players in Division II over the last several seasons, Hawkins will have a long list of suitors for his final year of college. The Des Moines Register’s Matt Bain reported on Tuesday Hawkins will have a Zoom call with Kansas’ Bill Self this week.
I have no idea if there will be any interest in Hawkins, who grew up an Iowa State fan and told a reporter in Maryville he’d be unable to swallow his pride and play for Iowa, from the Cyclones. I’d at least make a call though if I was T.J. Otzelberger and his staff.
Not just because the kid came from the best high school conference in America — the Hawkeye 10 — but because he’s the real deal. The kid can really, really play.
*** Jordan Bohannon is returning to Iowa for his 70th (actually sixth) college season.
I seem to be in the minority not being sold about this being an upgrade for the Hawkeyes in 2021. Chad Leistikow told Ross Peterson and me on KXNO’s Sports Fanatics on Monday that Bohannon will move to the two-guard to be the centerpiece of Iowa’s offense next season in place of the transferring C.J. Frederick.
As of today, he also looks to be the team’s only proven shooter. I’m interested to see how his production changes (positively or negatively) when given the keys as the driver in offensive production and the central focus of opposing defensive schemes.
One thing I do know is I’m sure Iowa State fans will give him a hearty welcome when he rolls into Hilton Coliseum next December. Maybe someone will even bring him an extra pair of shoes just in case.