ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Hot Button is a 'round-the-clock feature that covers anything across the scope of sports. We're here to bring you everything hot: news items, highlights, takes — everything but hot meals — whether local, national or international. Better yet, it’s interactive. Share your thoughts in comments, and even post your own links to interesting, safe-for-work, sports stories.
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📌 ASTROS HBP OVER/UNDER SET
Monday, 2/17: The oddsmakers have now entered into the aftermath of the sign-stealing scandal, as William Hill sportsbook set the over/under on Astros players getting hit with pitches in 2020 at 83.5. That would represent about a 25-percent increase over 2019 when they were hit 66 times as a team, the league average.
Astros manager Dusty Baker has already pleaded with commissioner Rob Manfred to protect his hitters from retribution. Manfred stated he was already going to crack down on all intentional beanings. If so, why would he need to mention it?
Hm. Will we get Bad News Bears Yankees coach Manfred, or A Few Good Men Colonel Jessup Manfred
DAYTONA ENDS WITH CRASH
Monday, 2/17: Denny Hamlin won the weather-delayed Daytona 500 Monday after a treacherous wreck at the finish sent race leader Ryan Newman into the wall, allowing Hamlin to get to the checkered flag:
Here is the final lap of the Daytona 500 in which Ryan Newman's car was flipped at the line.
We will continue to keep you updated on his status as we learn more. pic.twitter.com/qkEwQBpoP0
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 18, 2020
Newman's car flipped upside down and actually crossed the finish line on its roof. Newman had to be pried from the vehicle and airlifted to the hospital. Newman was listed in serious condition but his injuries are reported to not be life threatening.
All the best to Newman, his family, and his race team. — Bob
AL MVP: 'IT'S BAD FOR THE GAME'
Monday, 2/17: The number of reigning 2019 MVPs to lose respect for the Astros officially rose to two on Monday, as the usually reserved Mike Trout hammered the Astros for cheating.
The three-time honoree didn't hold anything back when meeting with reporters:
Mike Trout is not happy with the Astros and the punishment they received pic.twitter.com/VDwJCFZXHl
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) February 17, 2020
Trout also wasn't buying into Jose Altuve's reason for not wanting to have his shirt ripped off on a walkoff homer to win the 2019 ALCS:
Mike Trout found Jose Altuve's walk-off shirt incident a little suspicious. pic.twitter.com/YJBcjbaYGy
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 17, 2020
Good for Trout to speak out, which is unusual for him. He joins the Dodgers' NL MVP Cody Bellinger in calling out the Astros, but Trout can't be accused of having an agenda — his team wasn't cheated in a playoff series like Bellinger's was. — Bob
TURNER LAYS INTO MANFRED
Monday, 2/16: Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner didn't appreciate commissioner Rob Manfred's comment's Sunday that the World Series trophy itself was "just a bunch of metal." Turner took Manfred to task for devaluing the trophy, stating, "... I don't know if the commissioner's won anything in his life. Maybe he hasn't ..."
Then there was this:
Justin Turner was honest in his response to Comissioner Manfred’s statements about the Commissioner’s Trophy pic.twitter.com/3leAZKGOoG
— Nikki Kay (@NikkiKaySN1) February 17, 2020
"At this point, the only thing devaluing the trophy is that it has the word 'Commissioner' on it."
Wow. I can't think how the league and Astros could have handled this situation any worse. — Bob
JULIEN FINED 10K FOR RIPPING REFS
Monday, 2/16: The NHL fined Canadiens head coach Claude Julien $10,000 Monday for blasting the officiating after Montreal's 4-3 loss to the Stars on Saturday.
Julien went off in his postgame interview, voicing his anger over calls that were made after the Habs were up 3-0:
Claude Julien’s full comment on tonight’s officiating pic.twitter.com/NJ5s50G3EC
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) February 16, 2020
Julien knew this was coming, of course. Publicly criticizing officiating is verboten. But it does expose a greater hypocrisy in the sport:
@NHL @NHLPlayerSafety as a fan of the game for a long time, could someone explain how #ClaudeJulien gets $10000 fine for some “rude comments” yet Chara can crosscheck a guy to throat/chin/Jaw and only get a lousy $5000. #figureitout
— Jared Barendregt (@Jbeartwits) February 17, 2020
Best sport, worst league ad infinitum. — Bob
DEVILS DEAL COLEMAN, GREENE
Sunday, 2/16: The Islanders and the Lightning made trades with the Devils Sunday to shore up their rosters fro the stretch run to the playoffs.
The Devils sent team captain and 37-year-old defenseman Andy Greene to the Islanders for a 2021 second-round draft pick and defenseman David Quenneville. Greene should provide some veteran leadership and a steady, physical presence on the blue line.
The Lightning paid a lot for more scoring, getting forward Blake Coleman from the Devils for defense prospect Nolan Foote, their first-round pick in 2019 and the son of former NHL star Adam Foote, plus a conditional first-round draft pick in either 2020 or 2021.
The NHL trade deadline is Monday, February 24. — Bob
DUKES TOP RAMS
Sunday, 2/16: Duquesne found their way back to the win column, edging Fordham 59-54 in an A-10 clash on Sunday at Rose Hill Gymnasium in the Bronx. Its was a back-and-forth affair as Duquesne struggled from three throughout, going just 7 for 32 from beyond the arc. But Dukes guard Tavian Dunn-Martin hit a clutch three-pointer with just over five minutes remaining to take a 48-45 lead and Duquesne never trailed after.
Dunn-Martin scored 12 of his team-leading 15 points in the second half, leading a Duquesne bench which scored 29 points. Center Baylee Steele added 13 points in relief of starter Michael Hughes, who found early foul trouble. Forward Marcus Weathers led the starters with nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Guard Sincere Carry played the full forty, scoring four points with eight assists and six rebounds.
Fordham (7-17, 1-11) were led by guard Antwon Portley's 16 bench points, while starting guard Ty Perry added another 15. Forward Joel Soriano contributed eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Duquesne (18-6, 8-4) returns home to host George Washington University (11-14, 5-7) Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena. Tipoff is 8 p.m. — Bob
BISSONNETTE ALLEGES MISCONDUCT
Sunday, 2/16: Former Penguin Paul Bissonnette alleged on Twitter that former Wilke-Barre/Scarnton teammate Daniel Carcillo used racial slurs toward him and had an offensive symbol in his robe:
Remember when you used to call me a ni**er in the locker room every day in Wilkes-Barre? Remember when you had a sauwastika embroidered on a robe underneath the hood you wore in an NHL locker room until the captain found out and talked some sense into you? Welcome to the mud Dan. https://t.co/P5nTaXTMbP
— Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0) February 16, 2020
The ugly exchange resulted from a Carcillo tweet about a Globe and Mail article featuring Bissonette and his growing influence in the sport.
Carcillo, for his part, immediately acknowledged the slurs — and did so publicly months ago — but denied the latter accusation. He took to Twitter Sunday to offer another apology and an earnest explanation of his behavior, and offered a sit-down to Bissonnette to discuss his concerns:
— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) February 16, 2020
Here's hoping honesty, reason and civility prevail. — Bob
KANE: NHL SYSTEM UNFAIR
Sunday, 2/16: Sharks forward Evander Kane blasted the NHL Department of Player Safety for what he feels is inconsistent punishment on illegal hits following a three-game suspension he was issued for elbowing Jets defenseman Neal Pionk on Friday night:
MY STATEMENT: pic.twitter.com/taoALpVmvn
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) February 15, 2020
Kane supported his message by tweeting two incidents that weren't punished by the league — Lawson Crouse's elbow to the head of Charlie McAvoy, and Zdeno Chara's cross-check/high stick to the face of Brendan Gallagher:
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) February 13, 2020
To be fair, Kane isn't challenging his suspension, just that others weren't. With the league giving just seven games to Oilers forward Zack Kassian for a kick to an opponent's chest with his full skate blade, Kane has a solid point — there's seemingly no standards in place for what is and isn't suspendible. — Bob
JONES JR. DUNKS ABOVE GORDON
Sunday, 2/16: Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. beat magic forward Aaron Gordon by one point in the NBA's Slam Dunk competition Saturday as part of the league's All-Star weekend in Chicago.
It was controversial, as many thought Gordon sealed the win when jumped over 7-foot-5 Celtics center Tacko Fall:
Aaron Gordon lost the dunk contest by one point to Derrick Jones Jr. after jumping over Tacko Fall. pic.twitter.com/3nBarEXuwb
— ESPN (@espn) February 16, 2020
Jones Jr., though, found some rare air making this one from the foul line:
THE DUNK THAT WON THE DUNK CONTEST FOR DERRICK JONES JR. 😱🔥 pic.twitter.com/Cr7mJ0wbg5
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 16, 2020
Still, Gordon had what many consider to be the best of the night:
AARON GORDON. SHUT IT DOWN. 😱 #SCtop10
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 16, 2020
It was an entertaining contest. Did Gordon get robbed or was he juuuust a few inches short in getting over Fall? — Bob
FERNANDEZ PASSES AWAY AT 57
Sunday, 2/16: Former All-Star shortstop Tony Fernandez, one of the best infielders of the 1980s, passed away Saturday from a stroke caused by kidney trouble. He was 57 years old.
Fernandez played 17 seasons in the majors, 12 with the Blue Jays for whom he was a four-time All Star. He made the All-Star team once with the Padres. The Dominican Republic native finished his career with 2276 hits and slashed .288/.347/.399.
Rest in peace. — Bob
CORREA BACKS ASTROS, ALTUVE
Saturday, 2/15: Astros shortstop Carlos Correa gave a full-throated though inaccurate defense of second-baseman Jose Altuve and the Astros, one day after Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger blasted the Astros for their cheating and Altuve for "stealing' the 2017 AL MVP from Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge:
"He either doesn’t know how to read, is really bad at reading comprehension, or is just not informed at all."
Carlos Correa comes after Cody Bellinger after his comments from yesterday in regards to the Astros' cheating scandal pic.twitter.com/rDd0RNJ8Fv
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) February 15, 2020
One problem: The league's report did conclude the Astros cheated in 2018, so there's that.
Correa also gave a less than credible account about why Altuve didn't want to have his shirt ripped off after hitting a walkff home run to win the 2019 ALCS against Yankees, as many speculate Altuve wanted to avoid a sign-stealing vibrating device to be revealed:
According to Carlos Correa, the reason Jose Altuve didn't want his jersey ripped off after his homer against Aroldis Chapman was because he had an unfinished tattoo that "looked really terrible" pic.twitter.com/7nh7XonGov
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) February 15, 2020
Someone should just tell the Astros and their players to just be quiet before this situation gets any worse. — Bob
TABLOID SCORCHES MCGUIRE
Saturday, 2/15: Blue Jays catcher and former Pirates prospect Resse McGuire was recently arrested for ... uhh ... lewd behavior that I had no interest in reporting in this feature. However, a Toronto tabloid headline and sub-head captured it so well, I decided to let their front page do all the reporting:
Alex Bregman: Man, I'm gonna have a tough season
Reese McGuire: Hold my beer pic.twitter.com/77NHfKO5nT
— ⚾ J. Daniel ⚾ (@JDaniel2033) February 14, 2020
The end. — Bob
KASSIAN SUSPENDED FOR BLADE KICK
Saturday, 2/15: NHL Player Safety suspended Oilers forward Zack Kassian for seven games for kicking Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak in the chest with his full skate blade in a game Thursday night:
WIRES CROSSED pic.twitter.com/zEHvfSEUOB
— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) February 14, 2020
This suspension is important for the league because it now sets the standard for infractions involving assault with a deadly weapon. — Bob
MINORS TO GET 2021 SALARY INCREASE
Saturday, 2/15: Major League Baseball announced Friday that they are significantly increasing minor-league minimum salaries in 2021. Many minor league minimums are less than state minimum wages, but MLB got a minimum-wage exemption from the U.S. Congress in 2018. Here is the currently weekly pay and the scheduled pay increases:
Short season and rookie: going from $290 to $400; Class A: $290 to $500; Double-A: $350 to $600; Triple-A: $502 to $700.
There's irony in that MLB is toking to contract the lower minors and, if successful, those short-season and rookie-level team will never see that increase. However, its a good strategic move by MLB, which is looking to get lower-minors team to improve their facilities and conditions for players. That's a tough ask when a player can make more working a minimum wage job. — Bob
REDS GO SOFT?
Friday, 2/14: This is really good. -- DK
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) February 14, 2020
BELLINGER BLASTS ASTROS
Friday, 2/14: Cody Bellinger was asked about the Astros and all their cheating and "apologies" ... and my, oh my, he did not hold back with his response.
Just give this a watch:
You can see how visibly pissed Cody Bellinger is when talking about the Astros pic.twitter.com/QUXiNwzbxd
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) February 14, 2020
Roasted ... and he's not wrong at all. -- Hunter
BOUWMEESTER HAS ICD IMPLANTED
Friday, 2/14: Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had an ICD implanted Friday to regulate his heart rhythm after a scary incident Wednesday when he had to be revived after suffering a cardiac arrest on the Blues bench during a game agains the Ducks. The ICD is, in essence, a small defibrillator that will shock the heart when there is an arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat).
The Blues said that they will update Bouwmeester's condition next week after he recovers and flies back to St. Louis. It's possible to play strenuous sports with an implanted ICD, but certain underlying conditions preclude it. — Bob
SISTER READY FOR ACTION
Friday, 2/14: Sister Mary Jo, the nun who broke the internet last year with her ceremonial first-pitch for the White Sox, got in a little bullpen work at Guarantee Rate Field Thursday:
Sister Mary Jo is already in midseason form 🔥 pic.twitter.com/WrfIIqEAdo
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) February 13, 2020
Bicep bump and all, I'd say she's ready. Dovydas Neverauskas better have a good spring. — Bob
BIG STEVEN'S FIRST 3!
Friday, 2/14: Believe it or not, this one-handed half-court launch by Steven Adams, late of Pitt and now of Oklahoma City, brought the first 3-pointer of his NBA career Thursday night in New Orleans. But never mind that, and applaud the big Kiwi's shimmy! -- DK
If anyone but Steven Adams is your favorite player, you’re wrong. pic.twitter.com/3AOJJ6XVEh
— Jacob Gibbs (@jagibbs_23) February 14, 2020
SHESTERKIN RANGERS' NO. 1
Thursday, 2/13: Rangers head coach David Quinn announced that, moving forward, goalie Igor Shesterkin will be the No.1 goalie ahead of Henrik Lundqvist and Alexander Georgiev, even though he is currently out with a lower body injury. Shesterkin, 24, is 6-1-0 with a 2.18 GAA and .941 save percentage since his recall from Hartford on Jan. 7.
Quinn has been frustrated that neither Lundqvist nor Georgiev has taken charge of the net.
Lundqvist, 37, is signed through the 2020-21 season at an AAV of $5.5 million. He is 10-11-3 this season with a 3.12 GAA and .907 save percentage in 28 games.
With Quinn's declaration on Shesterkin and the 24-year-old Georgiev only headed to restricted free agency in the coming offseason, will Lundqvist be on the trade block? Though not a rental, it seems like a team looking to shore up goaltending would be interested in a guy with 459 career victories plus 61 wins, a 2.28 GAA and a .922 save percentage in 128 playoff games. — Bob
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