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Gray Makes Nationals Look Like Trade Deadline Winners

If you want to learn about the new, young additions the Nationals made at the Trade Deadline, keep reading.

Right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray made his debut for Washington Monday night, and while it wasn’t spectacular, it was nonetheless impressive, and it could be a sign of things to come for the franchise.

Gray’s outing was inarguably a success. He didn’t go particularly deep into the game (71 pitches over five innings), but he was very effective and “looked the part.”

His first strikeout came against Jean Segura, who entered the night batting .308 with the No. 15 lowest strikeout rate in the majors.

The lone true blemish he suffered was a home run off the bat of Odubel Herrera to lead off the fifth inning. It was one of four hits “Jojo” surrendered – and the only run he allowed to score

Gray’s fastball frequently reached 95 miles per hour, and he seemed to have clear command of his pitches for most of the night – which is always key for young pitchers. He only walked two batters, and he kept his pitch count below 15 per inning.

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This Is Why I Got A Reminder To "Check On Tyrece Radford"

Now that I’m retired, I can’t shake one habit I have followed religiously from my working days.

The habit was whenever anyone mentioned a date of any significance, I’d immediately enter it into Microsoft Outlook. Didn’t matter if it was a birthday, doctor’s appointment, sporting event, or anniversary. If it had a date and I had any interest in the subject, I typed it in as an appointment so every morning I could see all the things I’d wanted to remember, but had already forgotten.

For things I REALLY wanted to remember but was sure I’d forget, I included a reminder, which you can set up for anywhere from one hour to two weeks to jog your memory while you’re on your computer about the event.

I say all this because this morning when I fired up the old desktop, waded through a pile of email, and caught up on all the snide remarks posted on Twitter, a message popped up reminding me in one week to “Check On Tyrece Radford.” That’s because one week from today could be an interesting time for the Virginia Tech basketball program.

The Hokies look good for this coming season, but the one nagging issue for them is who plays the wing. There are really only three players on the roster suitable for the wing – Hunter Cattoor, Naheim Alleyne and Darius Maddox – and they were all probably expecting to be backing up Tyrece Radford. But Tyrece entered the transfer portal a little more than a month ago, and as this story suggests, that may have been a just in case move pending some legal issues Radford has.

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This Year's VT Corps Of Receivers Could Surprise Everyone

As I’ve written before, I have some concern about Justin Fuente’s public confidence in Virginia Tech’s passing attack, with much of it residing at the quarterback position.

But when it comes to Virginia Tech’s receivers and tight ends, there’s a much different story.

(Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics)
Tre Turner

As Fuente said at ACC Kickoff, this year’s version of receivers aren’t the kind that you can just throw 50-50 balls to consistently and expect them to come down with it. This isn’t 2016.

That's true, but in 2021, Virginia Tech does have pass catching talent that should be able to lighten the load on Braxton Burmeister.

The Hokies’ receiving corps starts with Tre Turner, who is entering his fourth year at Virginia Tech. Turner has been remarkably consistent since enrolling in 2018, as you can see in his receiving stat line since his freshman season…

  • 2018: 12 games, 26 receptions, 535 yards (20.6 yards per catch), four touchdowns
  • 2019: 11 games, 34 receptions, 553 yards (16.3 yards per catch), four touchdowns
  • 2020: 10 games, 34 receptions, 529 yards (15.6 yards per catch), three touchdowns

Essentially, Turner is the same player now as he was when he started. His production has remained steady, regardless of who is playing quarterback. Heck, Turner may be older and wiser, but he’s still listed at 187 pounds on the roster, just the same as he was in 2018.

Turner’s value comes as a big-play threat as he’s shown the ability to make some of those combat catches that I referred to earlier.

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ODU Preview: It's Time For The Ricky Rahne Era To Begin

It’s finally time for the Rahne era to begin for Old Dominion.

The Monarchs are a little over a month from kickoff at Wake Forest, and are preparing for their first games under Ricky Rahne after a canceled 2020 season due to COVID-19. With all of that, there are a lot of unknowns and what amounts to two freshmen classes getting ready to make their mark on the Monarchs...so it’s only right to go through the roster and break it down.

In Madden, players are ranked via an overall number that is an average of their skills for this exercise, I will be assigning a letter grade to each position based on depth, talent coming back, previous production, and potential. I will be using the two-deep provided by OurLads.com since there has not been an official one yet.

Quarterbacks

D.J. Mack transferred home to ODU after a few seasons at Central Florida, which threw a wrench into the QB race between redshirt freshman Hayden Wolff and senior Stone Smartt. While the Athlon preview lists Wolff as the starter, I’ve been to practices and from what I see, it’s D.J. Mack’s job.

In two seasons at UCF, Mack threw for 838 yards and seven scores, with just two interceptions in limited action, most of which came in 2018 when he played in nine games. In practice, Mack has made some very good throws and use his legs well, with deceptive speed. Mack gives the offense the best chance out of the gate.

Hayden Wolff is listed as QB2, and that lines up with my thoughts as well. Wolff is a prototypical QB, and I haven’t seen the mobility of Mack or Smartt when I watch, but he is more accurate and makes decisions faster than Smartt. In three games as a true freshman, Wolff completed 58.1% of his 129 pass attempts for three picks and two scores as the offense sputtered in Bobby Wilder’s last days at the helm.

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Two Numbers To Consider: $32.4 Million, and $1.3 Billion

Back in my corporate days, we used to invite key members of the sales force to product development meetings and ask for their feedback on what they thought we needed to add to our product line.

Dozens of ideas about product other competitors had would be offered. I was the “no fun” guy at times who would ask specifically why we needed to have a version of that product, wanting to know was it their best-seller? How many floors in your territory was it on? How much volume do you think we’d do with such a group? Whose product would we knock off retail floors to make room for this new addition?

In many cases the answer was they didn’t know. They just liked how the product looked and wanted something like that in our lineup. I would then say it’d be a shame for us to go through all the expense of developing a new group, only to find out that while visually appealing, it didn’t really sell well for the competition, and thus probably wouldn’t be making any money for us either. So get me more data or the answer was no.

Then they’d call me names 😊

My point in saying this is because after reading a bunch of stories and opinions about who the Atlantic Coast should consider adding, now that Texas and Oklahoma have launched the opening salvo in another round of conference wars, is that most fans and pundits sound just like those product development meetings. They suggest and want every shiny bauble that might be out there, with little to no regard to the bottom line.

The magic number I’ve seen that should be the basis of any suggestion is this one: $32.4 million. That’s the revenue split each team got in the most recent sharing of the pot of gold the league passed out from television and revenue sharing agreements. It doesn’t mean each team brought in that much – I’m sure Clemson brought in a lot more, and teams like Boston College brought in a lot less – but that was the average.

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Recent Comments
Doug Johnson

The Washington Metro Market.

I would think that the Washington metro TV market would be the biggest prize that the SEC would be eyeing. How can the SEC not be... Read More
Saturday, 31 July 2021 22:17
Dave Scarangella

Can't really do that with the ...

ACC leadership had everyone sign away their grant of rights for their television rights for the next 15 years, so if the SEC wante... Read More
Saturday, 31 July 2021 22:33
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The Washington Nationals Are Officially Rebuilding

It’s a four-letter word in sports, but dressing up what Washington did at the Trade Deadline any other way doesn’t negate the truth.

The team is officially rebuilding, as between Thursday and Friday, the Nationals traded away eight veteran contributors for a bevvy of minor league prospects.

That doesn’t mean the future isn’t still bright, but there will be growing pains. Juan Soto and Josh Bell are their top hitters by a considerable margin now, they don’t have a true frontline starting pitcher, and there are multiple holes in the back of the bullpen.

How Did We Get Here?

When teams are 47-55 with lots of contracts that are due to expire in the offseason, they trade the impending free agents away. They don’t hold onto the veterans simply because the franchise won a World Series two years ago. They evaluate the present and future, forget about the sentimental ties they have to players who may have been valuable to them in the past, and make trades that ensure the team will be better in the near future.

That’s what the Nationals did, regardless of how jarring each individual deal may have felt.

Ahead of Friday’s game against the Cubs (who also emptied the big-league cupboard at the deadline), Mike Rizzo called Friday “as tough a day as I’ve ever had as a general manager.” He’s not wrong for saying that, but it was also a necessary process.

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Best Move For Orioles At Trade Deadline Was No Move At All

I hate the phrase “do something,” as it’s often used shortsightedly, when the people involved are much more concerned with optics than they are actually solving problems.

Sometimes, the best option is to do nothing.

Orioles general manager Mike Elias effectively did nothing at the Trade Deadline, moving a couple of fringe pieces that have little value towards the theoretical competitive core of players that are currently in the organization. All the O’s best players — Cedric Mullins, Trey Mancini, John Means and Ryan Mountcastle — are still Orioles.

This year’s Trade Deadline in no way resembled the fire sale of 2018, when the O’s punted on their collection of productive players in favor of a long-term approach. Manny Machado, Zach (also known as Zack) Britton, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman and others were all traded away, mostly bringing back prospects that have yet to break out at the major league level.

It also looks nothing like what the Nationals did this week, which was turn the roster upside down and see what falls out. Like the Orioles in 2018, the Nats moved critical pieces of their organization, though their return looks to be far greater than that of the Orioles’ haul three years ago.

At the time, most of those moves were prudent. Perhaps trying to re-sign Machado might have been a better solution, but there’s no guarantee that the O’s front office hadn’t let that relationship deteriorate enough already. By and large, however, it made sense for the Orioles to unload their top-tier talent because the franchise was so far away from being able to compete at a high level.

Things have changed.

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Recent Comments
Guest — DougJohnson

Great Lead Into Article

Ricky, your first four paragraphs were written masterfully. You made it so intriguing to think that doing nothing at all is a wor... Read More
Friday, 30 July 2021 23:19
Dave Scarangella

I think he was also happy ther...

Earlier in the day he told me if any of those four core players got traded, "we riot at sunset" ... Read More
Friday, 30 July 2021 23:45
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Wizards Start Anew With Kispert, Without Westbrook

The focus Thursday night was supposed to be the NBA Draft.

The Lakers, however, wouldn’t allow it, and their activity kicked off a wild night for the Washington Wizards. 

When the Wizards moved on from Scott Brooks, it felt like changes were imminent at the top of their roster, with the biggest question entering this offseason being whether they’d trade for a third star player, stand pat, or enter a rebuilding era.

The selection of Wes Unseld Jr. as Washington’s new head coach signaled that the organization was leaning closer to the latter than the former, with nothing being certain yet. But Thursday night, as the NBA Draft was just beginning, we got an answer, as the Wizards agreed to trade point guard Russell Westbrook to the Lakers.

The deal in its entirety – which is still subject to league approval – includes Westbrook and second-round picks in 2024 and 2028 going to the Lakers in exchange for 3&D wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, forward Kyle Kuzma, postman Montrezl Harrell and this year’s No. 22 overall pick.

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Thanks For The Memories Max, Trea...Until We Meet Again

When you follow a team that has a run of great years, and even wins a championship during that time, you know it isn’t going to last forever.

But that doesn’t make you feel any better when that day arrives.

As a kid who marveled at this guy the Virginia Squires had from the University of Massachusetts named Julius Erving, I still remember the sting of picking up the Virginian-Pilot in my hometown of Norfolk to read that the Squires had basically given Erving away to the then-named New York Nets. They weren’t going to be able to re-sign him, the story said, so they got what they could. Which was very little.

The sting wasn’t so much the team traded away Erving. It was the realization that the good times were over, and not for just a year or two. It would be a long time, everyone understood, before the team would be this good again, if ever.

Fast forward to 1981 when Joe Gibbs took over the then-named Washington Redskins. From 0-5 to 8-8 to playing in Super Bowls, it was intoxicating to know that every year Joe Jackson Gibbs was at the helm, there was a chance the team could be one of the last two playing each year. Every Sunday was a party as we turned on the television, turned the sound down, and listed to Sonny, Sam and Frank on the radio usher us through these heady times.

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If You're Looking For This Week's College Notebook...

For the last five months, we’ve been honored and proud to be carrying Doug Doughty’s College Notebook. When Doug left the Roanoke Times at the end of January earlier this year, he wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to do, so I offered to run it on our site, as I thought it was important for him to keep his brand going by publishing College Notebook somewhere.

Doug now has his own site on Google Sites, and you can reach the site by clicking here. To access the current College Notebook, just go up to the upper right-hand corner of his site and click on “College Notebook” and you will see today’s edition as well as past entries.

Should you forget the new web address, Doug will remain listed among our authors, so if you click on Doug’s name in our menu under “Authors” it will take you directly to Doug’s site. Plus, his previous College Notebooks he’s written the past 5 months will remain in our archives, so you can just go to our “categories” section and click on “College Notebook.”

In the website business, numbers and traffic are important, so I strongly encourage everyone to check out and support Doug’s site. And if you’re like I am, and you’ve read Doug on Thursdays for the past 45 years, you can certainly continue at his new home here.

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With Herbert Gone, Who Fills The Void At Running Back?

Watching Khalil Herbert regularly run roughshod over much of Virginia Tech’s competition last season was a lot of fun, as the Hokies hadn’t seen a runner like Herbert since David Wilson, which marked the end of a string of exceptional Hokie running backs.

But watching Herbert last season gave me a sad feeling in the pit of my stomach. For one, I was disappointed that neither Herbert nor the Virginia Tech fanbase ever got to connect with each other in person. Hokies will never be able to physically watch Herbert play football inside Lane Stadium, and that pains me.

Secondly, I knew that Herbert was headed to the pros after 2020. Everyone knew — graduate transfers usually don’t stick around.

Herbert’s departure leaves Virginia Tech with a large void at running back, a vacancy that has many options but none that stand out.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that fifth-year back Jalen Holston is the favorite to assume most of the carries. The former Wing-T fullback has played in a lot of games over his previous four seasons — 35 to be exact — but while showing flashes of brilliance, his production hasn't been consistent. Holston averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season, just above his career average of 4.1.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

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The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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