Nationals

Syracuse's Jim Boeheim 1 away from 900 wins

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Syracuse's Jim Boeheim 1 away from 900 wins

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Jim Boeheim has experienced a lot since the dawn of the new century - prostate surgery, a national championship, induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a pair of Olympic gold medals, the firing of a lifelong friend on his staff.

Yet even though it's been 50 years since he enrolled as a freshman at Syracuse, the 68-year-old Boeheim just keeps rolling along, as intense and focused as ever in his 37th year at his alma mater, worried only about the next game when he's not recruiting or raising money for cancer research.

`'He hasn't lost a beat,'' said Boeheim's wife, Juli. ``Jim's got an intense edge at all times.''

One that has brought him to the doorstep of another milestone - 900 victories. Sometime soon - the first chance comes against Detroit on Monday night in the Carrier Dome on the court that bears his name - Boeheim will join a most elite fraternity, one with only two other members - Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902), the only men's coaches in Division I history to win that many games.

``The sooner we get through it, the better we'll be able to focus on the season,'' said Boeheim, 899-304 for his career after his fourth-ranked Orange (9-0) beat Canisius 85-61 on Saturday night. ``This team does not care about how many wins I have. They care about getting the next win. That's it. Everything else does not matter. It really doesn't. I'm happy I'm still here.''

Even though his Orange have won more games the past three seasons than during any three-year stretch in his career and Boeheim's program is probably better than it's ever been, crossing another threshold on the victory list isn't fodder for the dinner table.

``We don't even mention it at home,'' Juli said.

One of a vanishing breed, Boeheim has been head coach at Syracuse since 1976 and has never had a desire to go anywhere else. His first victory as a college coach was against Harvard in Springfield, Mass., a 75-48 triumph on Nov. 26, 1976.

``We were behind at halftime, not playing well at all,'' Boeheim recalled. ``We just kind of went to something real simple offensively and outscored them about 20-something to six in the second half.''

After taking over for Roy Danforth, Boeheim's Orange went 26-4 in his rookie season, losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

``We were a good eastern program,'' Boeheim said. ``At that time, St. Bonaventure, Holy Cross, and all those programs were just as good as we were. We were a little bit better at that point in time, but not much. There was really not much difference between all the eastern schools.''

Boeheim has transformed what was a sound program - Syracuse was 128-71 in eight seasons under Danforth, going 23-9 and reaching its first Final Four in the 1974-75 season - and taken the Orange into the rarefied air of three national title games, winning in 2003 in New Orleans.

Boeheim holds the Division I record for most 20-win seasons at 34, has 48 NCAA tournament victories (fifth all-time and one behind Jim Calhoun) in 29 trips, and tops the Big East with 402 wins.

And, clearly, he's in a better place than he was a year ago when former assistant Bernie Fine was fired amid allegations of sexual abuse against two former ball boys. No charges were filed, and last month federal authorities dropped their investigation. Fine has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Boeheim defended his lifelong friend and endured criticism and scrutiny, with some activists calling for him to be fired. He was questioned repeatedly during news conferences about the case and was sued for defamation by the ball boys (the case was thrown out).

Through it all, Boeheim simply did what he's done for nearly four decades - prepare for the next game. The Orange responded by winning a school-record 34 games, narrowly missing another trip to the Final Four.

``He has so much knowledge and experience. I write in a journal the way that he handles certain situations,'' said longtime assistant Mike Hopkins, who performs the job Fine held, coaching the big men. ``Last year was 10 years of education in one, managing and motivating - Cool Hand Luke.

``Every year you think you've seen it all, and last year you saw a whole new chapter just in terms of what a great leader he is.''

Boeheim has been part of Krzyzewki's staff for the past two Summer Olympics, and the two have formed a solid friendship.

``Jim is one of the great coaches of all time, and he's an even better man,'' Krzyzewski said. ``It will be an amazing accomplishment when he reaches 900 wins. What is even more amazing is that he's done that at one school. Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University are synonymous. He has built one of the great brands in college basketball, one that has withstood the sport's most unrelenting test - the test of time.''

Knight's Indiana team deprived Boeheim and the Orange of a national championship in 1987 when Keith Smart's baseline jumper with 4 seconds left gave the Hoosiers a one-point victory.

Knight could be courtside on the ESPN broadcast crew calling the New Year's Eve game in the Carrier Dome against Central Connecticut. If the Orange remain undefeated and beat Central Connecticut, Boeheim would pass Knight on that day.

And despite what the coach says, the Orange are stoked for Monday night's game.

``I can't wait until he gets to 900,'' sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams said. ``He's been through the ups and downs with the school. He wants all of us to be great and to play to our potential. I think that's what makes him so great.''

Added senior Brandon Triche, who leads the team in scoring: ``He's one of the best motivators. Sometimes, he's tough on you, but he's motivated me to be the player I am.''

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AP Basketball Writer Jim O'Connell contributed to this report.

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Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

NEW YORK -- Normal is not something the Nationals do this season.

Monday’s pivot from the mundane -- an otherwise run-of-the-mill 5-3 baseball game -- came when Adam Eaton was jogging toward the visitors dugout in the bottom of the third inning when he stopped to respond to New York third baseman Todd Frazier, whom Eaton said was chirping at him all night.

This is not new. The two were teammates on the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and did not get along. Last year, Frazier and Eaton also had an exchange. The one Monday night at Citi Field prompted several members of the Nationals to hop over the dugout railing while Frazier and Eaton were being restrained near the first base bag. First base umpire Mike Estabrook cutoff Eaton who was walking toward Frazier after initially heading to the dugout following a 4-6-3 double play which ended the inning for the Nationals. When Frazier came toward the Mets dugout from his position at third base, the two began their spat.

Afterward, Frazier declined to comment in the Mets’ clubhouse, saying only, “It was nothing.” Eaton took the opportunity to expound on his displeasure with the incident, its continuation and Frazier himself.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Eaton said. “Gosh, who knows what goes through that guy’s mind? He’s chirping all the way across the infield. He must really like me, [because] he wants to get my attention it seems like every time we come into town, he really cares what I think about him. I don’t know what his deal is, if he wants to talk to me in person or have a visit or what it is. But he’s always yelling across the infield at me, making a habit of it.

“He’s one of those guys who always says it loud enough that you hear it but can’t understand it. So, he’s making a habit of it. I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point. So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

Asked if he is surprised such exchanges are still happening three years after they played together, Eaton said he was.

“Yes, absolutely,” Eaton said. “He’s very childish. I’m walking with my head down, play’s over, I’m walking away. I can still hear him. I’m a 30-year-old man with two kids, got a mortgage and everything. He wants to loud talk as he’s running off the field. At the end of the day, I got to be a man about it. I tried to stay patient with the childishness, but it is what it is. I got to stand up eventually.”

He did, and what could have been merely Game 47 for a struggling team turned out to be something else.

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 5-3, Monday to drop their record to 19-28. Here are five observations from the game…

1. A wondrous, very Mets day preceded the game.

Their general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, held a press conference to announce...Yoenis Cespedes -- already out because of dual heel surgeries -- suffered multiple ankle fractures during a ranch accident over the weekend. Van Wagenen then went on to profess his support for maligned New York manager Mickey Callaway -- for the most part. Last, and most important to writers, three boxes of donuts were in the press box with a note: “Have a great series! -- BVW”.

Things are always a little different in Flushing. That was a problem for the Nationals.

In what could be labeled a “reverse-lock” situation, Washington’s $140 million starter, Patrick Corbin, was outpitched by unknown and often ineffective Wilmer Font, whom the Nationals smacked around just five days ago. The Nationals, as they often do, dragged themselves back into the game after trailing 4-0. A Juan Soto single drove in Anthony Rendon in the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3. Rendon was on base four times.

And, again, it was just enough to produce a close loss. Washington put two runners on with none out against dynamic New York closer Edwin Diaz before Kurt Suzuki flew out, Trea Turner grounded into a fielder's choice and Adam Eaton flew out.

The Nationals drop to nine games under .500 following one-run and two-run defeats. They also fell to 2-14 in series openers.

2. A rough, short evening for Corbin.

He trudged through the night on 98 pitches. Corbin lasted just five innings. He walked three, gave up four earned runs, struck out seven.

His night was a mess early. Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered in the first inning. Two walks in the third -- one with two outs -- led to two more runs scoring. He zipped through the fourth and fifth before being removed.

Corbin has endured two blowups this season in an otherwise quality first two months: Monday and April 29 against St. Louis. The latter outing featured four walks and a homer allowed against one of the league’s better offenses. Monday’s bad outing came against a Mets lineup which did not feature Robinson Cano to start and entered the evening 21st in wOBA.

Bad timing. Bad night.

3. Tanner Rainey made his Nationals debut Monday. He was interesting.

Rainey gave up a hustle double to pinch-hitter Cano -- yes, hustle and Cano -- but otherwise showed a sharp fastball-slider combination.

Rainey was the return for Tanner Roark in the offseason trade that sent Roark to Cincinnati during the Winter Meetings.

He has command trouble. He also throws 98-100 mph with ease. Asked in spring training where that velocity comes from, Rainey said his legs and weight lifting. No secret sauce. He lifted more, he threw harder. And he subsequently repeated the process.

Rainey’s velocity will always intrigue. The question is if he can command his two-pitch arsenal enough to become an actual bullpen weapon. The baseline tools are there.

4. A shuffle in the relief corps is coming.

Tony Sipp (oblique) was activated from the 10-day injured list Monday. Dan Jennings was designated for assignment. That experiment is over. Jennings signed a minor-league contract April 15. He was in the majors April 30. He’s gone less than a month later. He did not pitch well.

The Nationals claimed right-handed Javy Guerra off waivers Monday. Guerra was designated for assignment by Toronto. Guerra pitched 14 innings for the Blue Jays this season, with a 3.86 ERA and 3.17 FIP. In other words, distinctly better than most in the Nationals bullpen.

Washington expects Guerra to arrive in New York on Tuesday. Kyle McGowin is likely to be sent back to Triple-A Fresno to make room. So, two fresh pitchers in the bullpen early in the week.

Trevor Rosenthal should also be back shortly. He is expected to throw an inning for Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday. Rainey will likely be sent back to the minor leagues to make room there.

And, a situation in West Palm Beach, Fla., to keep an eye on: reliever Austen Williams had to be shut down to allow his shoulder to rest. Williams threw 40 pitches at the spring training facility the first week of May, when he appeared on his way back from the 10-day injured list. However, he has stopped throwing after experiencing further shoulder soreness. He was placed on the injured list April 19 because of a sprained right AC joint.

5. Matt Adams worked with the team on the field Monday, which he expects to do the next two days.

He’s on the verge of being activated before the week is out.

“I watched him [Monday] and he took some really good swings,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he feels [Tuesday]. I’m assuming that he might be a little sore, because he did take some swings and he’s going to continue to do baseball activities [Monday]. But we’ll see how he feels.”

Adams’ 15-day absence has handcuffed Martinez in multiple ways. Take Sunday. Right-handed slider-thrower Steve Cishek on the mound. Left-handed hitters’ OPS against Cishek is 143 points higher than right-handers. But, no Adams meant no left-handed pinch-hitter.

Those issues should be over soon.

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