Nationals

Jets' Ryan speaks to LB Scott about fan comments

Jets' Ryan speaks to LB Scott about fan comments

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Bart Scott was once a favorite of Jets fans with his hard hits, big plays and colorful comments.

Now, they're taking shots at each other.

The chatty linebacker has struggled with a hyperextended toe that has limited his production, and fans have made it clear that they're not happy with the team's 4-7 record. A video posted on Deadspin.com showed a group of angry fans screaming obscenities and insults at the players as they walked off the field at MetLife Stadium at halftime of the Jets' game against the New England Patriots last Thursday night.

Scott, when asked about the video, told the Daily News that the harsh fans who yell at you were probably ``picked last in dodgeball all through high school.'' He also told Newsday that they probably couldn't make it through ``a high school practice.''

Well, coach Rex Ryan needed to set Scott straight Thursday.

``You've got to appreciate our fans,'' Ryan said he told Scott. ``Obviously, in the good times it's much easier than in the bad times, so I had that conversation with Bart.''

Blogs and sports talk radio have been hot the past few weeks with fans frustrated with Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum, owner Woody Johnson and just about every player as the Jets appear headed to a second straight season without a playoff appearance.

``What I said I'll stay behind: that our fans deserve better,'' Ryan said. ``And I was the first guy that would say that. With us, what I mentioned to Bart, you have to appreciate the fans. The thing that makes this game so great is the players and the fans, and that's the truth.''

Ryan is speaking from experience after he was fined $75,000 for cursing at a fan last season and received a $50,000 fine for making an obscene hand gesture to a fan at a mixed martial arts event in Florida in 2010.

``I learned from it and I think the team learned from it, we keep our heads down and go right in the locker room,'' Ryan said. ``Obviously I made a huge mistake there. I hope I wasn't the only one that learned from it. Just go in, and people are entitled to what they want to say.''

Scott didn't apologize for his comments Thursday, but appeared to soften his stance.

``Of course, I'm going to protect my team and protect my organization, but I understand that they pay good money,'' Scott said. ``I'm well aware of that. It's freedom of speech. You can say what you want as long as nobody gets physical or puts their hands on you.''

Scott, obviously, isn't OK with everything fans say or do, using the example of hearing about former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox once having garbage dumped on his lawn by fans. He also said he read that someone said he'd ``probably be unemployed on the streets'' if he didn't play football.

``I'd like to think that my economic degree would get me some type of job,'' he said. ``There are certain perceptions about athletes whether they're warranted or not. But I know what and who I am and I'm comfortable in my own skin.''

He also pointed out that many players often have their wives, children, family members and friends in the stands during games who are subjected to the negative comments.

``But I guess that's what we sign up for,'' he said. ``We're public figures and we open ourselves up to criticism. That comes with the territory. That's fine.''

Scott wanted to make it clear that the players are not in any way satisfied with losing, and they are just as disappointed by bad losses such as the one to the Patriots on national television.

``We didn't put 40 hours of work coming in here and practicing, going through game plans,'' he said, ``to go out there and embarrass ourselves and let our teammates down and our coaching staff down and let our city down.''

Scott later said his comments from the previous day were just him ``being defensive'' and that fans know who he really is, pointing out the extensive charity work he does.

``You can't judge somebody by the three hours that you see in shoulder pads and helmet,'' he said.

Scott was regularly one of the Jets' top tacklers during his first seasons with the Jets, but ranks seventh (44) this season with less playing time while dealing with his toe injury. Ryan raved about Scott's leadership qualities and how he wants him to be healthy so he can play more often.

``The way he's attacking the run and doing different things, Bart doesn't hurt us,'' Ryan said. ``Let's put it this way: He helps us.''

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Past Nationals relievers: Where are they now?

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Past Nationals relievers: Where are they now?

It’s no secret that the Nationals bullpen is one of the weakest units in baseball this season. Fans in the nation’s capital have spent two months watching relievers cough up leads and put games out of reach, and the numbers speak for themselves. 

Washington’s team ERA among relievers is an unsightly 7.09 entering Memorial Day Weekend, nearly a full run higher than the 29th-ranked Orioles. As a unit, they’ve pitched fewer innings than any other bullpen, yet have allowed the second-most earned runs.

No one has been immune. Sean Doolittle, by far the best option in 2019, has seen his ERA balloon to 3.68. Justin Miller is the only other regular reliever with an ERA below 5, and he’s at 4.02.

It’s caused much consternation in the fanbase, and for good reason. Where did the Nationals go wrong in building this bullpen? What could they have done differently?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at four relievers who are experiencing various levels of success while no longer in Washington.

Felipe Vazquez

Vazquez has been lights out in Pittsburgh in 2019. He ranks top-10 among relievers in WAR (0.9) and top-12 in ERA (1.25). He holds the sixth-best K/9 (14.54) and is tied for the fourth-most saves in baseball with 13.

Every one of those numbers would lead the Nationals with ease. At 27, Vazquez has turned into one of the elite relievers in the sport. He’s been terrific all three years with the Pirates, and 2019 looks like his best season yet.

Of course, he wasn’t ready to be this guy in 2016 when the Nationals traded him for Mark Melancon. It was a necessary trade at the time, and one that worked out well in a vacuum. Melancon pitched well in Washington and didn’t allow a run in the 2016 postseason.

Right now, the Nats could really use a Felipe Vazquez, but the logic behind their trade at the time was sound.

Blake Treinen

Treinen has already allowed as many earned runs in 2019 (seven) as he did in all of 2018. It’s not a knock on his performance this season, where his 2.59 ERA would still lead the Nationals, but a recognition of just how dominant he was in 2018.

In the modern era of Major League Baseball, it’s just about impossible for a reliever to win the Cy Young. Even with just 80 innings pitched last year, Treinen finished sixth in Cy Young voting and 15th in MVP voting. 

That’s right. He was so good, he got down-ballot votes for MVP. It was a sensational year.

His usually-elite ground ball rate is down this season, which has led to some regression, but it’s still notable he put together a 2018 season that far outshines any individual season the Nats have seen.

It was clear in 2017 he wasn’t capable of performing as the team’s closer, eventually earning a demotion before being traded to Oakland.

Despite his enormous success in the years since the trade, it’s hard to question the Nationals here. Not only did it seem apparent Treinen wasn’t going to figure things out in D.C., but the trade brought back Sean Doolittle, the lone consistently great reliever the Nats have had in recent years.

Brandon Kintzler

Kintzler pitched parts of two seasons in Washington, but ultimately spent exactly one year with the Nationals. In that year, he tossed 68.2 innings while striking out 43 batters and walking 18.

His ERA with the Nationals was 3.54, too high for a high-leverage reliever. He struggled mightily in 2018 after being traded to the Cubs, but has settled down this season to the tune of a 2.96 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 24 innings.

As is the case for just about any halfway-decent reliever, the current Nationals bullpen would benefit from having him, but this isn’t nearly the loss Treinen or Vasquez were.

Shawn Kelley

Kelley was up-and-down in his time with the Nationals. His ERA was below three in 2016 and 2018, but the 2017 season was marred with injuries, inconsistency, and a tendency to allow home runs (a whopping 12 in just 26 innings).

Of course, Kelley was pitching better in 2018, but it wasn’t performance that led to his departure. 

In a blowout Nationals 25-4 victory over the Mets in July 2018, Kelley allowed three earned runs, including a home run. After the home run, he slammed his glove on the ground while staring at the Nats dugout.

The next day, he was designated for assignment as a result of the outburst and never pitched for the Nationals again, traded away a few days later. 

In his 33.2 innings since the trade, Kelley has been terrific. He posted a 2.16 ERA with the Athletics in 2018 and currently holds a 1.59 ERA in 2019 despite pitching his home games in Texas. He’s even filled in at closer with the Rangers, recording five saves so far this year.

Though his removal wasn’t for performance issues like Kintzler's or to acquire proven closers like Treinen’s and Vasquez’s were, the loss of Kelley can be felt just as hard. As is the case with each of these relievers, Kelley’s numbers would lead the Nationals bullpen in just about every category.

For the most part, these moves made sense at the time, for one reason or another. But the Nationals have yet to adequately replace most of these arms, and the 2019 team is suffering as a result.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Free agent Gerald McCoy to visit Baltimore

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Free agent Gerald McCoy to visit Baltimore

Kick off your holiday weekend with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. One of the most obvious needs for the Ravens is help rushing the passer, and they're hoping to find some of that help on the interior in the form of free agent Gerald McCoy. The longtime Buccaneer DL visited Cleveland last week, but left town without agreeing to a contract.

Reportedly interested in playing for a contender, the former top-five pick is scheduled to visit the Ravens on Tuesday.

2. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is still struggling to throw the ball, as he noted things aren't right yet when it comes to accuracy. Media members noticed the ball wobbling through the air on many throws, and Jackson told them he thinks his hand is too high on the ball. If he's going to successfully run Greg Roman's new offensive scheme, Jackson will eventually need to be able to hit his receivers in stride with greater regularity.

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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