This is probably going to sound very basic and very random ... but, man, do I ever just miss watching sports with a bunch of friends. I was sitting around watching some NBA and NHL action while texting with a couple friends about the games last night and it suddenly hit me like a sack of bricks. The simple joy of plopping down on a couch or heading to a bar to watch the game(s) with a group of friends ... I need that back in my life.
Luckily, I still get to spend the mornings after games with you and that's just about the next-best thing. Thanks for being here for me in my time of need.
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Anyway, we've got a pretty stacked lineup for you this morning ... plus an open mailbox! We'll bring back the mailbag once again tomorrow, so feel free to send questions my way (firstname.lastname@example.org). Any topic you want -- sports, pop culture, video games, whatever. Make 'em fun!
Let's get to business.
📰 What you need to know
1. Mets fire GM Jared Porter for sending explicit photos to female reporter ⚾
The New York Mets are on the search for a new general manager. Jared Porter, who was only hired a few months ago, was fired on Tuesday morning, after a report published by ESPN on Monday morning put him at the center of a rather gross and creepy explicit photo scandal.
- Porter acknowledged sending unsolicited sexually explicit images to a female reporter while he was employed by the Cubs as their director of pro scouting in 2016
- Porter sent a string of 62 consecutive unanswered text messages to the woman, the final being an explicit photo of his privates
- The unidentified woman was a foreign correspondent living in the United States to cover baseball, and she has since decided to leave the industry (she called Porter's actions a "tipping point" for that decision)
New Mets owner Steve Cohen tweeted about the organization's decision to fire him on Tuesday morning.
- Cohen: "We have terminated Jared Porter this morning. In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior."
Porter initially denied sending the woman any photos, but when told that ESPN had documentation of the text exchanges, he pivoted to say that the "the more explicit ones are not of me. Those are like, kinda like joke-stock images." Obviously, this is an awful story and an unfortunate reminder of how toxic and uncomfortable it can be for women trying to crack into the sports industry.
Good on Cohen and the Mets for taking a short amount of time to make the right decision.
2. Tennessee continues to cripple program with self-inflicted wounds 🏈
Remember when the Tennessee Volunteers offered one of the most attractive head coaching destinations in all of college football? Yeah, not so much these days. The program's downward spiral continued on Monday when they fired head coach Jeremy Pruitt and nine staffers as a result of NCAA recruiting violations.
- The school's decision to fire Pruitt and others comes as Tennessee faces "significant" Level I allegations, some involving impermissible benefits
- The school has yet to officially receive a notice of allegations from the NCAA
- Because he was fired with cause, Tennessee will not pay Pruitt's buyout clause ($12.88 million). The coach has reportedly lawyered up and plans to fight his termination in court
- Athletic director Phil Fulmer was also pushed out on Monday, though his departure was labeled as a "retirement"
This is an ugly situation that has potential to get a lot uglier as it plays out, and it seems like the Vols could be in for a tumultuous next few years in football limbo, at the least. But even so, our Dennis Dodd believes that the Tennessee job could still be an attractive one ... so long as the program stops shooting itself in the foot.
- Dodd: "Tennessee keeps chasing what it used to be in embarrassing, awkward and ineffective ways: bat-spit crazy fans running Greg Schiano out of town, Fulmer pulling a power play to oust John Currie and install himself. Fulmer then hired Pruitt, and here we are with the Vols set to field their third full-time coach in five seasons. Tennessee is embroiled in a massive cheating scandal basically because of those bat-spit crazy fans and an AD out over his skis for too long."
So, who might want (and be at the top of the list for) the Vols' job? Dodd has also put together a list of potential candidates to take over for Pruitt, including a sensible in-house option in newly hired defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who will serve as acting head coach for now.
Rocky Top is slowly becoming Rock Bottom, huh? But although things might look pretty bleak right now, I'm sure someone out there is willing to ... volunteer 😎 ... to help the program rediscover its lost pride.
3. The Padres are at it again ⚾
While most MLB teams are spending this offseason sitting on their hands and reluctant to spend money, the San Diego Padres are out here wheeling and dealing like a bored 12-year-old operating a franchise on PlayStation.
- San Diego landed right-handed starter Joe Musgrove from the Pirates in a three-team, seven-player deal
- The Mets received Joey Lucchesi (from San Diego) while the Pirates received five players in exchange for Musgrove
- The 28-year-old Musgrove put up the highest strikeout (33.1 percent), swing-and-miss (14.4 percent) and ground ball (48.4 percent) rates of his career by far last season
I respect the heck out of the Padres for being aggressive and going for it as much as they possibly can with this core they've got. You'd think they might dust off the hands and call it an offseason after bringing in Snell and Darvish, but instead they're stockpiling talent and insurance policies.
As our Mike Axisa pointed out, this latest trade could suggest they're a little concerned about the health of Dinelson Lamet, who suffered a bicep injury last year. But even if that's the case, San Diego now has impressive depth. Oh, and it's worth reminding you that this team also still has Mike Clevinger slated to return from Tommy John surgery in 2022. At what point would you say they have too much pitching?
4. There's growing buzz around the Eagles and Josh McDaniels 🏈
Another day, another NFL head coaching job potentially off the board. The Philadelphia Eagles weren't expected to have a coaching vacancy this offseason, and now they seem to have their eyes on a candidate that few saw coming ... so it's always surprising in Philadelphia this winter, apparently.
- The Eagles are reportedly closing in on Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as their next head coach
- McDaniels has been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Patriots for the past nine seasons
- He previously served as head coach of the Broncos (2009-2010) and was announced as head coach of the Colts in 2018 before backing out to remain offensive coordinator in New England
- If hired in Philadelphia, McDaniels may bring 34-year-old Jerod Mayo (an assistant with the Patriots the past two seasons) as his defensive coordinator
As a Patriots fan, I haven't been the biggest fan of McDaniels' playcalling at times over the years, but it's hard to argue against some of the results he's gotten when the roster has been good. And if Bill Belichick likes you enough to keep you under his wing for 10+ years while making you the richest coordinator in football ... well, that's a strong endorsement.
That being said, if the Eagles really want this guy, they should probably handcuff him to a table and make him sign a binding agreement as soon as possible. You simply can't let the power of Belichick's persuasion bite you like it did to the Colts.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Who wants some NBA Power Rankings?
- Kyrie Irving apparently bought a home for George Floyd's family
- Here's a rundown of the changes the NFL is making to the 2021 scouting combine
📺 What to watch today
🏒 Capitals vs. Penguins, 7 p.m. | PIT -125 | TV: NBCSN
🏀 No. 6 Tennessee vs. Florida, 7 p.m. | UF +6.5 | TV: ESPN
🏀 Pelicans vs. Jazz, 9 p.m. | UTAH -6 | TV: NBATV
📝 Top scores from last night
Steph Curry had 26 points and the Warriors erased a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to snap the Lakers' five-game winning streak.
💵 Winning wagers: GSW +323, Over (225.5)
The Bruins have are to score an even strength goal through their first three games of the season.
💵 Winning wagers: NYI +120, Under (5)
Posh Alexander scored 18 points to lead five players in double figures .
💵 Winning wagers: SJ +263