Nationals

Alabama's Saban, ex-Dolphins coach, back in Miami

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Alabama's Saban, ex-Dolphins coach, back in Miami

MIAMI (AP) Nick Saban returned to his former NFL home and insisted he's not looking for another one.

The Alabama coach was back at Sun Life Stadium - where he coached the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and 2006 - for the BCS title game media day event Saturday. The second-ranked Crimson Tide (12-1) faces No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) on Monday night there for the national title.

Saban said he wasn't feeling nostalgic by being back on the Dolphins' turf, further adding that a return to the NFL is not tempting to him.

``I don't have any unfinished business in the NFL,'' Saban said. ``I have a job right now and I want to do the best job that I possibly can for this team, right now. ... That's not something that I'm concerned about. It's not something I'm thinking about; it's not even something that I want to do. I want to be a college coach.''

Of course, Saban sometimes changes his mind.

And nowhere has that been more chronicled than Miami.

It was Dec. 21, 2006, when Saban spoke at the Dolphins' facility after his team practiced and, after weeks of trying to denounce reports that Alabama intrigued him as ``rumor and innuendo,'' he offered his most emphatic denial of the entire process.

``I guess I have to say it. I'm not going to be the Alabama coach,'' Saban said that day, an oft-repeated quote.

Less than two weeks later, Saban was the Alabama coach.

So when he returned Saturday - the first time he was on the field at Sun Life in a working capacity since Christmas 2006 - Saban was predictably all about what's looming for Alabama on Monday night.

``I'm kind of excited for the opportunity that our team has,'' Saban said. ``It's really about our team and this game. We're always happy to come back to South Florida. We have some great relationships here and some very fond memories of being here. But right now, we've recruited and worked to develop this team for a long, long time, and it's really a lot more about them being here ... than it is anything that's happened in my past.''

Saban walked onto the field about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, not even seeming to take a look around at the facility where he went 9-7 in home games with the Dolphins. He walked down the visitors' sideline to his assigned booth, shook a couple hands with game staff and spoke with reporters for an hour.

``It's good to be back,'' said Alabama assistant coach Jeff Stoutland, a former coach at the University of Miami - which also uses Sun Life as its home field. ``But it's a business trip for us. We've got a schedule and we're sticking to that schedule.''

The Dolphins went 6-10 in Saban's final season in Miami, the only sub-.500 record that one of his teams has posted in his 19 seasons as a head coach. He lost 17 games in two seasons with the Dolphins; he's lost 13 in nearly six full seasons with the Crimson Tide and is now trying for his third BCS national title in four seasons.

``I'm not looking for new challenges,'' Saban said. ``I'm just trying to take advantage of helping the challenging situation that we have and continue to be successful.''

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Nationals remind fans of Juan Soto's GOAT status, he responds with first-inning RBI double

Nationals remind fans of Juan Soto's GOAT status, he responds with first-inning RBI double

The Nationals were forced to play their first eight games of the 2020 season without 21-year-old phenom Juan Soto, but they finally got him back in the lineup Wednesday just under two weeks after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Anticipation was building up ahead of his first at-bat and the Nationals’ official Twitter account did what it could to fuel the fire. Before first pitch, the team posted a photo of Soto’s “spray chart” that had the dots shaped like a goat around the field.

Though that may not actually be what Soto’s spray chart looks like, the leftfielder lived up to the “GOAT” status by smacking an RBI double in his first at-bat before making a diving catch the very next inning.

Soto may be a bit behind the rest of the league in terms of racking up at-bats, but he looked just the Soto that posted a .949 OPS last year and earned the distinction of a Gold Glove finalist.

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Max Scherzer leaves start against Mets after one inning

Max Scherzer leaves start against Mets after one inning

WASHINGTON -- Something didn't look right from the start Wednesday night when Max Scherzer took the mound.

He walked Mets leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo on five pitches. Seven of his first eight pitches were balls. All told, he needed 27 pitches -- just 14 were strikes -- to make it through the first inning against the Mets.

His velocity was also down in the 92-94-mph range.

After the inning was over, Erick Fedde began to throw in the Nationals bullpen. Scherzer stood in the dugout with his hands on hips and talking to athletic trainers. Fedde came in to start the top of the second.

Scherzer made 27 starts last season, five fewer than normal, because of neck and back problems which put him on the injured list. He said at spring training he thought he figured out the reason for the problems.

RELATED: SOTO BACK IN NATS LINEUP

Injuries have been pervasive this season since Major League Baseball resumed July 23. That includes fellow Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, who has missed his first two starts of the season while dealing with a nerve issue in his right hand. Strasburg threw a simulated game on Wednesday.

Scherzer was 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts in 2020 coming into the game.

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