Sunday, January 29 2023
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Happy Hump Day, everyone. It’s Wajih AlBaroudi filling in for Zachary Pereles. 

Let’s get started. 

Good morning to everyone but especially to…


The Brooklyn Nets were in DEFCON 1 less than two months ago, as former league MVP Kevin Durant requested a trade while his superstar teammate Kyrie Irving looked to be out the door, too.

Now, as improbable as it sounds, the band is back together for the 2022-23 season. Here’s how we got here: 

But things changed Monday, after a meeting in Los Angeles between Marks, Nash, Durant, his business manager Rich Kleiman, Tsai and his wife Clara Wu Tsai. Sean Marks said in a statement the following day the organization plans to “move forward” in their partnership with Durant, adding “We are focusing on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn.”

Our NBA scribe Michael Kaskey-Blomain believes the Durant-Irving duo, along with a healthy Ben Simmons, could make the Nets a significant threat in the Eastern Conference despite their playoff flameouts under Nash the last two seasons. 

  • Kaskey-Blomain: “With Durant staying put and joining Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons on the roster, the Nets are immediately back in the contender conversation in the Eastern Conference. After all, any team that Durant is on has a chance to make some real noise, as he remains arguably the deadliest offensive weapon in the NBA.”

Angels sale may affect Shohei Ohtani’s future in Anaheim ⚾

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Midway through what’s soon to be the Angels’ eighth straight non-playoff season, team owner Arte Moreno announced he’s exploring a potential sale of the club. And while Moreno isn’t exactly lauded in league circles, the ripple effects of an ownership change could prove to be quote devastating. 

Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP, could look elsewhere in free agency after next season if he feels the new ownership isn’t committed to what he’s said is his top priority: winning. Our MLB scribe Mike Axisa compared the situation to the one the Nationals just faced with Juan Soto, as they dealt the 23-year-old wunderkind to the Padres ahead of their own expected sale this offseason. 

  • Axisa: “It should be noted an Ohtani trade would be extremely unpopular with the Angels fanbase, in which case prospective owners may want Moreno’s regime to make that trade, allowing them to come in and be the good guys. The Nationals, who are also for sale, essentially followed that blueprint with Juan Soto. The current owner ripped off the band-aid. The new owner gets a clean slate.”

CBS Sports’ R.J. Anderson surveyed the league to find the five teams best positioned to land Ohtani, should he become available. Let’s just say the team atop Anderson’s list would make moving costs much more manageable for Ohtani.

Nick Saban becomes highest-paid college football coach… again 🏈

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Georgia coach Kirby Smart lost his first four games against Alabama and his mentor Nick Saban, breaking through for his first in the 2022 College Football Playoff national championship. Smart was later rewarded with a 10-year, $111 million contract extension making him college football’s highest-paid coach.

Well, Saban, like the comeback he orchestrated against Georgia in the 2018 national title game, took what Kirby thought was his once again. Alabama made Saban the new highest-paid college football coach with a one-year contract extension, as the 70-year-old is set to earn more than $90 million over the next eight years in Tuscaloosa.  

  • Saban will earn $10.75 million without incentives this season — surpassing Smart’s $10.25 million — and is set to average $11.7 million annually through 2029 — when he’ll be 79. 
  • With a base compensation of $305,000 per year, two other parts of Saban’s deal are significantly more lucrative: a “talent fee” beginning at over $9.5 million annually and ending at over $12.3 million, and a $800,000 contract completion benefit he’s set to earn each year from 2022 through 2025. 
  • Saban is one of six college football coaches who’ll earn at least $9 million this season, with the others being Smart, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, LSU’s Brian Kelly and Michigan State’s Mel Tucker. 

Though Saban is a septuagenarian, he hasn’t let his age slow him down. The Crimson Tide have made six of the eight CFP national championships since 2015, winning three. Coming into 2022, Alabama ranks first in the AP Preseason Top 25 and had a conference-leading 19 players earn preseason All-SEC honors, including six first-teamers. 

Saban has the most national championships of any coach with seven and is sixth on the career wins list with 274 — he’s all but certain to pass Amos Alonzo Stagg’s 282 wins this season, though Stagg has him beat if the coaches were ranked by how cool their names are.

Is 700 home runs a real possibility for Albert Pujols? ⚾

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With seven home runs over the last 13 days and an MLB-leading 1.414 OPS (among players with at least 50 at-bats) since the All-Star break, Albert Pujols has the Cardinals soaring toward the NL Central title.

I promise you that wasn’t written in the late 2000s. 

  • Pujols crushed his 693rd career home run against the Cubs on Monday, bringing him only seven away from the vaunted 700 club.
  • Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696) are the only players in MLB history with more dingers than Pujols. 
  • Pujols only has 39 games left in his hunt for 700 because he plans to retire after the season. 

The Cardinals have been as hot as Pujols’ bat of late, going 17-4 in August. They rank sixth in CBS Sports’ MLB Power Rankings and are knocking on the door of No. 5 given the Yankees’ puzzling descent (15-25 after a 61-23 start). 

What we’re watching Wednesday 📺

Guardians at Padres, 4:10 p.m., MLB Network
🏀 Sun at Wings, 9 p.m., ESPN
Brewers at Dodgers, 9:10 p.m., MLB Network



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