Mike DePrisco

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NBA will pay players full paychecks on April 15 amid coronavirus hiatus

NBA will pay players full paychecks on April 15 amid coronavirus hiatus

The NBA does not plan to make a decision on whether to restart the 2019-20 season until at least May 1, meaning at least 259 games, while not officially canceled, will be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In response to the league's suspension, the NBA had been in talks with players for weeks about withholding a percentage of their salaries in an escrow account to protect from losses caused by canceled games. 

According to ESPN, the league sent a memo Thursday assuring players they would receive their full paychecks on the next scheduled payday, April 15. Players are paid on the first and 15th of every month. 

While the players get their full salary for this pay cycle, that doesn't necessarily mean they will receive the same pay in May. A "force majeure event" could still come into play where players lose 1.08% of their yearly salary per game canceled. 

The NBA indefinitely suspended its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. 

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David Ortiz lauds Juan Soto's rare confidence, says Nationals star was seven years ahead of him

David Ortiz lauds Juan Soto's rare confidence, says Nationals star was seven years ahead of him

Juan Soto had all the talent you could hope for as a 20-year-old star outfielder in the major leagues, it was just a matter of him putting it all together. 

In the 2019 World Series against the Astros, the Nationals' phenom did just that, posting a .333/.438/.741 slash line to go along with three homers, seven RBI and a number of clutch hits in the seven-game series. 

Not only that, but Soto raked against the Astros with so much confidence that he caught the eye of Red Sox legend and future Hall of Famer David Ortiz. 

The greatest DH of all time noticed a particular at-bat against Astros ace Justin Verlander. Verlander threw a fastball high for a ball, and his catcher argued the strike zone with the umpire given Verlander's desire to throw up in the zone. 

"And during this argument Soto got in and he said, 'Tell him to throw it a bit lower and I'll show him where's the strike zone,'" Ortiz said in a recent interview. "Believe me, I was watching all of that. Then Verlander threw the pitch he was asking for and Soto almost got the ball way out of the stadium. In my language, as a guy who played baseball professionally for 20 years ... I learned that confidence this kid already has at 21 years old, I got that confidence at about 28 years old. He's seven years ahead of me."

By the time Ortiz turned 28, he had played over seven seasons in the majors (two with Boston) and had hit 130 home runs to go with a .278/.359/.517 slash line. Once he got settled in on the Red Sox, Ortiz began to solidify himself as one of the game's best sluggers. 

Just two seasons into his professional career, Soto has hit .286/.403/.535 with 56 home runs. You don't want to start making impossible comparisons for a player just 21 years old, but Soto's first two years have been incredible. Not to mention the fact he delivered Washington its first World Series championship. 

Once the 2020 season gets underway, we'll see how high Soto can climb. It'll be difficult without Anthony Rendon in the lineup, though he seemed to do fine filling the void left by Bryce Harper.

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Jeffrey Maier opens up about life after robbing the Orioles in 1996 ALCS

Jeffrey Maier opens up about life after robbing the Orioles in 1996 ALCS

Do you feel old yet? Baltimore's most hated 12-year-old, Jeffrey Maier, is now 36 with three kids and lives in the New England area. 

Maier etched his name in baseball lore when he notoriously reached over the right-field wall at Yankee Stadium and snatched Derek Jeter's fly ball from the playing field and into the stands, resulting in a historically controversial home run in the 1996 American League Championship Series. 

It didn't matter that the replay clearly showed evidence of fan interference or that umpire Rich Garcia admitted after the fact that Jeter should have been called out. There was no replay review back then. The umpire called it a home run, so the initial call stood.

His actions helped the Yankees tie Game 1 of that infamous series against the Orioles, and eventually, win the game in 11 innings. New York would go on to win the series in five games and beat the Braves in the World Series. 

Maier joined WFAN's Sweeny Murti to talk about the play and the two types of reactions he dealt with in the aftermath. 

First, there's the obvious backlash that comes with robbing a team and an entire fan base of an important game. Maier said he understands Orioles fans' feelings on the subject, but that didn't stop the hate mail and unpleasant calls from pouring in. 

The vitriol continued into his baseball career at Wesleyan, where Maier would routinely get thrown at whether he was in the batter's box or out in the field. 

"It stuck with me throughout my baseball career," Maier said. "I've been hit several times when I played competitively, certainly with intent. Things were certainly thrown at me at one point in my freshman year at Wesleyan."

For the most part though, people haven't made Maier suffer for something he did as a pre-teen. But then there's the other side of this. The side where he was lauded as a Yankee hero, was given free tickets to games and showered with fan mail from fellow fans across the country. 

Maier even got to meet and spend time with Jeter ahead of sring training the following season. 

"[Jeter] signed a ball for me that said, 'To Jeff, thanks a lot. - Derek Jeter,'" he said. "And he signed a glove that Mizuno had sent me, because Mizuno had gotten a lot of attention because the glove I used [during Game 1] was a Mizuno glove. He signed that and that still sits and resides in our basement as well as a picture I have with him."

For some, like Tony Tarasco, the Orioles' right fielder during the incident, they've been able to put the event behind them in a way. Maier detailed how he met Tarasco years later and how positive the interaction was. 

But for others, this is one of, if not the darkest moment in Orioles history and every detail still stings. There was nothing the Orioles could really do. A 12-year-old cost them the game, and it was against the Yankees to put a cherry on top of it all. 

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