Odor provided a sweet moment

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Rougned Odor is now my favorite player. Odor’s punch to Jose Bautista’s face reaffirmed much that’s good in baseball, that the players are forever going to take it upon themselves to uphold the integrity of the game and not let it evolve into the NFL, NBA or professional wrestling. The YouTube, Selfie, Look-At-What-I’m-Eating, My-Phone-Has-More-Aps-Than-Yours, I’m-Cool-Because-I-Drink-Craft-Beers Generation might be attracted to bat flips and showboating but in baseball all that gets you is a punch to the face. Make no mistake, Odor’s punch looked better than it actually was. He punches about as hard as Floyd Mayweather. But it sent a clear message. Baseball takes care of itself. You have to respect your opponent in baseball. At all times.

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The Washington Post has done a study that says Native Americans aren’t offended about the team name Redskins and Native Americans don’t believe the issue is important. Of course, history tells us having a Washington, D.C. organization tell the country what Native Americans believe or feel about anything is a bit suspect. But, yes, there are certainly far more important issues facing Native Americans than whether or not an NFL team is named the Redskins. But it should be offensive to all Americans a team is named the Redskins. The NFL or any other professional sports league would never even dream of naming a team after the color of skin of another race of people. Why do it to Native Americans?

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There’s no such thing as a rebuilding season for Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman. Musselman is always in win-now mode. He obviously believes you can build for the future at the same time you’re winning now. His two Wolf Pack recruiting classes so far reflect that philosophy with a combination of freshmen and Division I transfers. Musselman added two D-I transfers this week in 6-foot-3 guard Hallice Cooke and 6-7 forward Kendall Stephens. They are experienced, proven players in search of playing time, probably with a chip on their shoulder because their previous school wasn’t going to play them all that much. They are the perfect Musselman players. Hungry, motivated, determined and confident. Just like their new coach.

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Wolf Pack sophomore Cameron Oliver has until May 25 (Wednesday) to pull his name out of the NBA draft and return to the Pack for the 2016-17 season. If Oliver does jump into the NBA circus, though, it doesn’t mean the Pack can’t win without him. They won without their best player (at the time) last year when A.J. West up and left during the season. Oliver stepped up and filled the void. Jordan Caroline, a wonderfully athletic and talented dunking machine (if you can believe the Pack’s pre-game Harlem Globetrotters style warmup routine) could, in theory, step in for Oliver this year. The Pack will be a vastly improved shooting team next year (think Mountain West’s version of the Golden State Warriors) and could win with a smaller lineup. But it will be a whole lot easier if Oliver steps away from the NBA next week.

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The NCAA needs to tell its member universities to stop verbally offering scholarships to eighth graders. Alabama this week offered a scholarship to an eighth grade linebacker from Florida. LSU did the same a few months ago to another eighth grade linebacker. The eighth grader Alabama wants was also offered by Iowa State, Michigan State, North Carolina State and West Virginia. It’s a disgusting practice. It reeks of a 35-year-old man telling a 13-year-old girl he will marry her when she turns 18. It’s tasteless and needs to stop. What these schools don’t tell these young kids is verbal offers are meaningless. A lot can happen in four years. Heck, a lot happens in college sports in four weeks or four days. These football factory universities which have sold their souls to television money and sleazy boosters aren’t going to be held accountable to what they told an impressionable kid four years ago. These are the same universities, after all, that lie and break promises with the players who are currently on their roster. How can a 13-year-old trust them?

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Don’t be shocked if the Golden State Warriors never lose another game in the Western Conference title series. The Warriors’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 meant nothing. It doesn’t mean the Thunder have finally arrived. It doesn’t mean the Warriors are overrated. It doesn’t mean the Cleveland Cavaliers are now the favorites to win the NBA title. All it means is the NBA playoffs are an extremely long endurance test designed merely to soak up as much television revenue as possible. There will always be a few nights during the playoffs when even the best team in the league will take a breather.

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The Cavaliers will not be able to deal with the Warriors in the Finals. LeBron James and friends would likely beat the Thunder in the Finals because, well, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are merely stat hogs and are never going to win a big game in their careers. Game 1 of the West Finals doesn’t qualify as a big game, by the way. The Cavs, don’t forget, this year are benefiting from what just might be the easiest road to the Finals in NBA history. Detroit, Atlanta and Toronto might not have even made the playoffs in the West. LeBron could beat those teams playing with four of his former St. Vincent-St. Mary high school teammates.

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This will be James’ sixth consecutive NBA Finals and seventh overall. That is a remarkable achievement for a player in his first 13 season. Michael Jordan only went to six NBA Finals. Yes, he won all six while LeBron has won just two. James’ critics will play up the fact this June after the Warriors win the title that James has lost five of his seven NBA Finals, as if it’s all his fault his teams lost five Finals. They will fail to remind you it’s also James’ fault his teams have gotten to seven Finals. He’s a once-a-generation player, one of the 10 best (maybe top 5) to ever play the game.

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