Nationals

Will Manziel break Heisman Trophy frosh curse?

201211241749641722753-p2.jpeg

Will Manziel break Heisman Trophy frosh curse?

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) In the 77-year history of the Heisman Trophy, no freshman has ever won the award.

Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, the player who proved coach Kevin Sumlin's prolific offense could work in the SEC, may finally change that.

Manziel accumulated 4,600 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns this season along with a signature win over then top-ranked Alabama to make him a front-runner for the Heisman.

In the past some voters have been reluctant to pick a freshman for the award. But those attitudes might be changing.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops coached Adrian Peterson in 2004 when he finished second in voting - still the highest finish ever for a freshman.

``A player is a player, it shouldn't matter what age he is,'' Stoops said.

Manziel spoke to the media for the second straight day Tuesday after not being available all season because Sumlin doesn't allow freshman to talk to the media. He danced around the question almost as deftly as he avoids defenders when scrambling out of the pocket when asked if he thought age should matter in Heisman voting.

``I've heard a lot about it and people have their different opinions on that,'' he said. ``I just think that situation will play itself out. It goes to the most outstanding player in college football, if that happens to be me then that's something that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. If not, then that's just kind of how the cookie crumbles, I guess.''

The other top freshman finishers in the history of the Heisman were Herschel Walker in 1980 and Michael Vick in 1999, who both came in third. Vick, like Manziel, was a redshirt freshman. Walker and Peterson were in their first seasons on campus.

Manziel wasn't yet born when Walker had his fabulous freshman season and was just 6 years old when Vick wowed in his. But, Manziel who turns 20 next week, does recall Peterson's first year.

``I do remember Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma and the year he had and they still talk about it to this day,'' Manziel said. ``People still remember his freshman year at Oklahoma that was something that was truly spectacular.''

Manziel is second in the nation in total offense with more than 383 yards a game. He leads the SEC in yards rushing a game (98.4), pass completions a game (22.8), scoring per game (9.5) and points responsible for per game (21.5).

His success in what is widely considered the toughest football conference in the country is a big reason why some think his freshman status won't matter to voters.

``I don't think there's any reason not to vote for him, simply because he's a freshman,'' CBS Sports analyst Verne Lundquist said. ``He's put up numbers this year that are astounding. Not only are the stats astounding, but his style of play is so compelling. I would not be surprised if he won, and I think he's probably earned it.''

Some believe that Manziel could benefit from the fact that he's not a true freshman, but is in his second full year of college.

Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win the award in 2007, starting a string of three straight sophomores to win it.

As for Manziel, he's still trying to grasp the fact that he's a top contender for the award, and says he hasn't even thought about writing a speech in case he wins. When he first heard his name mentioned for the award he was floored.

``It's something that you don't really believe,'' he said. ``But it's something that's cool to see.''

He said he's been able to stay grounded despite his meteoric rise from fighting for the starting job in August to leading the Aggies to 10 wins this season because of a tight-knit group of friends.

``My friends do the best job of making sure that doesn't get to my head or anything like that,'' he said. ``I think they're in love with more college football players than they even like me. They talk about Jeff Driskel or Braxton Miller or whoever it may be.''

``They talk about those guys all the time and it makes me sit back and think: `Do y'all even like me?''' Manziel said with a laugh.

Quick Links

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.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS

 

Quick Links

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

corbin-mets-loss.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

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.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS

​​​​​​​