Nationals

At the movies, Saban prefers drama to comedy

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At the movies, Saban prefers drama to comedy

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Alabama coach Nick Saban says he's not much for comedies. He prefers his movies to have a message, and part of his routine for getting his players ready to play in a big game has been to have them watch an inspirational film.

Saban thought long and hard Sunday during his last news conference before the BCS championship game against No. 1 Notre Dame, but couldn't be sure what movie his LSU team watched before it beat Oklahoma to win the 2003 title. Maybe it was ``The Last Samurai,'' he said.

The 2009 Alabama championship team that beat Texas in the Rose Bowl watched ``Remember the Titans,'' the Denzel Washington football flick. Last year, before the Crimson Tide beat LSU in New Orleans, Saban and his players watched ``Red Tails'' about the Tuskegee airmen.

``But I think the movie, regardless of whether it was `The Last Samurai' or whatever movie it was, really it was about the honor of - the message was the honor of being all that you can be, that maybe that might be more important than winning or losing, and that your focus should be on that instead of the outcome,'' he said.

Before Alabama played Notre Dame, the Crimson Tide were scheduled to watch ``Zero Dark Thirty,'' which chronicles the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

What, no ``Rudy''?

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THE LINK: Frank Thomas had brushes with greatness at two of college football's powerhouses, and achieved plenty of it himself.

Thomas was a quarterback for Notre Dame's Knute Rockne and started a 15-year run as Alabama's coach in 1931, a year before a big country boy named Paul ``Bear'' Bryant came to play in Tuscaloosa. Bryant eventually returned to Tuscaloosa for a 25-year run as head coach, but didn't forget his coach.

``Coach Bryant had a feel for Notre Dame and I think a level of respect because of his coach, Frank Thomas, who he absolutely loved and thought was a great, great coach and referred back to him so many times,'' said Alabama athletic director Mal Moore, who played and coached under Bryant.

Thomas, who died in 1954, won 81.2 percent of his games, four Southeastern Conference titles and a couple of national championships. His winning percentage isn't all that far behind Bryant's (82.4 percent) or current coach Nick Saban (83.7, counting wins later vacated).

Lou Somogyi, senior editor of 247Sports' Notre Dame site, compares him to Notre Dame's Dan Devine, who replaced Ara Parseghian and won the 1977 national title.

``When you think of Alabama, you think of Bear Bryant first but Wallace Wade began it the way Knute Rockne did, then Gene Stallings and now Nick Saban,'' Somogyi said. ``Frank Thomas is sort of a forgotten figure at times.''

As a player, too. Thomas was listed as a third-team quarterback in 1920 as a roommate of George Gipp. He was a backup in 1921, and Somogyi said Thomas was replaced as the starter midway through the following season by Harry Stuhldreher, who became one of Notre Dame's famed ``Four Horsemen.''

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SEVENTH HEAVEN: The Southeastern Conference has won the last six BCS titles, and Alabama is looking to make it No. 7 on Monday night.

Crimson Tide center Barrett Jones said it's hardly automatic, however, that an SEC team wins it all. That notion that SEC teams are head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the nation is even farfetched to him.

``There are some people that may be a little too-SEC-biased. Don't quote me on that, but you probably will,'' Jones said. ``Certainly, don't get me wrong, I think the SEC is probably by a good margin the best conference. But that doesn't mean there aren't other good teams out there.''

Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson doesn't see any difference between Notre Dame and the best teams from his conference.

``They could play in the SEC,'' he said.

The SEC had another good postseason, going 5-3 in the bowls so far. Though losses by Florida and LSU were unexpected and two Big Ten-SEC matchups (South Carolina-Michigan and Georgia-Nebraska) weren't as decisive as many expected.

This is what passes as a disappointing bowl season for the SEC.

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FLYIN' HAWAIIAN: Shane Victorino will be in Florida - well, the other side of the state, anyway - in a few weeks to open spring training with the Boston Red Sox.

First up for the so-called Flyin' Hawaiian: A trip to the BCS title game.

Not surprisingly, Victorino is a fan of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, who also hails from the state. And Te'o was thrilled to know that Victorino was coming down to lend Notre Dame his support.

``Shane Victorino is just a real good guy,'' Te'o said. ``We met him before and had the opportunity just to hang out with him for a couple days, and like I said, it's that bond between Polynesian players and even non-Polynesian players who know what Hawaii is all about. ... Just to have Shane here and have him experience this moment with us, he's family.''

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BK LIKE NICK: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is happy to be compared to Nick Saban. But, no, he hasn't spent much time buddying around with the Alabama coach.

``Well, Nick obviously has the reputation of being a great program builder,'' Kelly said Sunday. ``He's defined himself, as only a few coaches ... have won the championships that he has. So I take that as a great personal compliment, as it relates to constructing football programs and putting winning football teams on the field. I would take that moniker any time.''

Asked if he had ever crossed paths with Saban, maybe at public appearances, during the time Kelly was at Division II Grand Valley State in Michigan and Saban was head coach for Michigan State, Kelly laughed.

``Public appearances for Nick?'' he said.

``Nick Saban, I got a chance to know him when he was at Toledo, a very short stint at Toledo, but I got a chance to know him through a couple of camps that I worked at, and got to know him better when he was at Michigan State. And I have a great deal of respect for him and followed his career, his path, and certainly when we see each other today, we're reminded about where we started. We both started in the Mid-American Conference, so a lot of the times that we talk, we talk about the times back in Ohio and Michigan.''

Saban started his coaching career at Kent State, his alma mater, and Kelly's first Division I job was at Central Michigan.

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WEST COAST TOUCH: Pac-12 officials will handle the BCS championship game.

Alabama was tied third in the country in fewest penalties per game at 3.8 for 32.8 yards. Notre Dame was middle of the pack nationally. The Irish were tied for 51st at 5.7 penalties per game for 42.9 yards.

Pac-12 officials have a reputation for being aggressive with the flags. Six of the 25 most penalized teams in major college football are from the Pac-12, including UCLA which was last at 9.2 penalties per game.

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AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds, John Zenor and Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

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Nationals Roundup: Rout of Miami guarantees series win for Nats

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Nationals Roundup: Rout of Miami guarantees series win for Nats

The Nationals used Sunday's nine-run offensive outburst to skate past the Marlins, 9-6. The win marks the team's first three-game winning streak of the season. 

Here are your news and notes surrounding the 2019 Washington Nationals as they head into Monday's series finale against the Miami Marlins. 

Players Notes:

NATIONALS (22-31): 

Erick Fedde's second start of the season went well for the 26-year-old. He pitched five scoreless innings of four-hit baseball, walked three Marlins and fanned four. 51 of his 83 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Washington erupted offensively Sunday. Howie Kendrick enjoyed a 3-for-5 afternoon, including a solo shot and three RBIs.  Anthony Rendon's 6th inning triple marked his first of the season, and brought two across the plate. 

Juan Soto's 8th inning single marked his 10th game (tied career best) in a row he's reached base safely. 

James Borque made his major-league debut Sunday, and it did not go as planned. He fell short of completing one full inning, surrendering four earned runs on three hits and walking two Marlins. He threw 29 pitches. 

MARLINS (16-34):

Miami starting pitcher Caleb Smith was bounced after just three innings. The Nats knocked him for five hits and cashed in for five runs. The 27-year-old entered Sunday's start with a 2.38 ERA. 

Neil Walker had a 2-for-5 afternoon which featured his 8th inning 2-run home run that got Miami on the board. 

Injuries: 

SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least Jun 6

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least Jun 1

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least Jun 6

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 27

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Monday, 5/27: Nationals vs. Marlins, 1:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Tuesday, 5/28: Nationals @ Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET, SunTrust Park

Wednesday, 5/29: Nationals @ Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET, SunTrust Park

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How the Wizards could buy into the second round for another draft pick

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How the Wizards could buy into the second round for another draft pick

The Washington Wizards would probably be smart to add at least one more pick in this year's NBA Draft. They hold the ninth overall selection in the first round, but nothing in the second round. They have no second round picks until 2023 and that one is protected and was acquired in a trade.

Like most teams, they need more young players on cheap contracts with high upside. The best way to find those is in the draft.

The Wizards could always strike a trade to land more picks, either in the first or second round. But they also have the option to purchase a second round pick. 

The Golden State Warriors are well-known for employing that strategy. They got Patrick McCaw in 2016 and Jordan Bell in 2017 by buying into the second round.

The Wizards have been doing their due diligence scouting players who could fall in the second round. They met with a collection of players at the NBA Combine that would not be considered for the ninth pick. 

If Washington wants to add a second round pick, they will have the option to. But it won't be cheap, at least initially.

The whole reason for buying into the second round is to get a player on an inexpensive contract. The Warriors have done it a few times to add depth within the confinement of their championship payroll. 

But you have to pay money to get such a player. There is a maximum money limit tied to the salary cap. Last year, that limit was set at $5.1 million. The price can vary on how high the pick falls in the second round.

Last June, the Rockets paid $1.5 million to land the 52nd pick in the back-end of the second round to take Vincent Edwards of Purdue. The year before, in 2017, the Warriors paid $3.5 million to get the 38th overall pick from the Bulls to take Bell. That $3.5 million was more than the total contract he then signed with Golden State, about $2.2 million. 

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis would essentially have to sign on for overpaying a young player. During Leonsis' tenure, they have more often been on the other end of such deals.

Former team president Ernie Grunfeld had a habit for trading away second round picks and sometimes only for cash considerations. In 2014, the Wizards infamously traded the pick that became Jordan Clarkson to the Lakers. They received a little less than $2 million in return.

Like anything involving the draft, it is an inexact science. But getting another pick, one way or another, seems like the smart move for the Wizards right now. Buying into the second round is one of their options.

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