Joc Pederson’s 1994 Buick Century to be given away by Albuquerque Isotopes

It won’t be long before Joc Pederson, the 19th ranked prospect according to MLB.com’s middle-season rankings, is living the major league life with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In fact, it’s expected he’ll get his first taste this September as a role player behind the Dodgers already loaded outfield.

Obviously, this impending promotion and a likely long term future in MLB will allow Pederson to make upgrades in his life. With that in mind, before his 2014 stint with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes ends, Pederson is looking to literally give away the 1994 Buick Century he bought for $1,000 during his time there, and according to a press release on Friday, the team is going to help him out by giving fans an opportunity to win the car

One lucky fan at the Albuquerque Isotopes game next Friday, Aug. 29, will drive away (or tow away) outfielder Joc Pederson’s luxurious 1994 Buick Century. Fans will not want to miss the chance to win this one-of-a-kind car driven by the next Los Angeles Dodgers superstar.

The car, nicknamed “Little Chucky,” has only 166,000 miles on it and has at least one operable window, which is really all you need. It is perfect for cruising around during the New Mexico summers with its “awesome” stereo system and lack of air conditioning. Kelly Blue Book estimates the value at nearly $1,000 (depending on if it has a full tank of gas). Little Chucky will also come with two complimentary air fresheners and whatever else Pederson forgets to clean out.

(Albuquerque Isotope)

We always enjoy documenting some of the best — and also some of the worst — ballpark giveaways during a given season, but this would definitely be the first tow ballpark away, should it come down to that. At the very least, it sounds like a much bigger hassle than asking for and receiving an autograph to serve as a momento, but its uniqueness and Pederson’s stature as an elite prospect may make it worthwhile. 

“May not be a classic car,” general manager Traub said, “but he’s had a classic season.”

Not only a classic season, but a potentially historic season according to True Blue LA’s Eric Stephen

Pederson on the season is hitting .302/.425/.568 with 27 home runs and 26 stolen bases in 105 games for the Isotopes. With 19 games remaining in the minor league season, he has a good chance at becoming the first Pacific Coast League player in 80 years to finish with 30 home runs and 30 steals in the same season.

As Stephen notes, it’s difficult for a player to achieve a 30-30 season at any level, but particularly in the minor leagues, where promotions become more likely when players put up Pederson’s numbers. His circumstances are different because the Dodgers outfield already includes five legit major leaguers in Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Andre Either and Scott Van Slyke.

The Dodgers will likely reshuffle the outfield deck during the offseason, which should open up an opportunity for Pederson. But for at least three more weeks, he’s staying in Albuquerque. And for two of them, it sounds like he’ll need a ride. 

There’s also a report coming out late Friday afternoon that if Pederson does return to Triple A in 2015, it’ll be in a different city. According to Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman, a group affiliated with the Dodgers is on the brink of purchasing the Oklahoma City minor league team, which would then become their Triple-A affiliate. The Dodgers have not confirmed the report and the Isotopes are denying such knowledge, but it’s something to keep an eye in the coming days. 

BLS H/N: Larry Brown Sports

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

- – - – - – -

Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Puerto Rico’s Ricky Sanchez beats the 1st-quarter buzzer with follow dunk vs. Team USA (Video)

Whenever Team USA plays a basketball game, it’s a safe bet that they’ll produce the vast majority of the highlights. No other team in the world features so many elite athletes, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski has created a system that plays to that strength. The Americans run and jump on another level from all other international squads.

Early in Friday’s exhibition game at Madison Square Garden in New York City, though, it was Puerto Rico that produced the most exciting moments. The best came at the first-quarter buzzer, when forward Ricky Sanchez slid past Team USA’s Mason Plumlee to finish a follow dunk with his left hand to tie the game at 26-26. Check it out below:

The 27-year-old Sanchez, a 2005 draftee of the Portland Trail Blazers, spent some time in the D-League before moving to the National Superior Basketball League of Puerto Rico, where he has been an All-Star four times. Like many players for Puerto Rico, he doesn’t have a resume that comes close to matching even the least notable players on Team USA. Nonetheless, he and his teammates look plenty capable of competing with those more famous opponents in FIBA play.

- – - – - – -

Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Hank the Dog meets Hank Aaron and we all say ‘awwwww’

(Milwaukee Brewers)

When the Milwaukee Brewers adopted the stray dog that was hanging around their Arizona spring training camp, named him Hank and brought him back to Milwaukee, you had to know this moment was coming.

On Thursday, the Brewers finally got Hank the Dog, the most famous canine in baseball, in a room with his namesake — the great Hank Aaron, who played 12 seasons with the Milwaukee Braves, then finished his career as a Milwaukee Brewer.

Hank the Dog didn’t hit 44 homers this season like Hammerin’ Hank did so many times, but the pup is having a pretty good year. He went from being homeless to having a doghouse inside an MLB stadium, thousands of fans and even a stuffed likeness.

Out of all the cutesy things the Brewers have organized this year in the name of Hank, this one picture might be the best.

BLS H/N: For The Win

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

- – - – - – -

Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Adam Silver needs to keep answering questions about how the NBA approaches Team USA

It’s an intelligent, age-old trick. Any time the whiff of criticism or even worry is in the air, you can attempt to devalue its presence by making a hyper-reach and devoid the issue of any context. NBA commissioner Adam Silver is a very smart man, and he recently did as much in discussing the issue of NBA player “sacrifice” in relation to the camp, exhibition, and FIBA World Cup commitments this summer.

With Derrick Rose having been shelved due to body fatigue and Paul George already out for what should be the 2014-15 season after badly breaking his leg in a televised scrimmage, Silver addressed reporters on Thursday about growing fears and criticism that points toward what some have criticized as a needless tournament.

Via Marc Stein at ESPN, here are Silver’s thoughts:

“It is a big risk without enormous financial reward,” Silver said when asked about a sentiment shared by outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban during a “Commitment to Service” news conference to discuss a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense at Madison Square Garden.

“But I am sitting next to our highest ranking military official,” Silver said of General Martin Dempsey.” I’m almost embarrassed to be talking about the risk that our players face compared to what our men and women in uniform face.”

Come on, guy. Mr. Adam Silver-guy. This is akin to Phoenix Suns management bringing up how comparatively little firefighters make in their negotiations with frustrated restricted free agent, because they’re the real heroes, y’know?

Perhaps this is just an instance of Silver feeling ashamed in the moment , catching himself mid-answer and pointing that, yes, it is silly to call Derrick Rose’s turn playing basketball under five-star settings “a sacrifice” with a decorated military official sitting a few feet away. If that’s the case, though, and you know these questions are coming? Don’t share the stage with a decorated military official, and don’t call your back and forth with reporters a “Commitment to Service’ news conference.” There’s a way out of such embarrassment.

Silver went on to remind that Team USA’s band of brothers were a volunteer army … OK, he didn’t point out like that, I’m paraphrasing, but it is true that Rose, George and others want to be on this team, and they want to make this particular sacrifice because it’s still fun to play with great players and compete at a high level in August and September while ably representing your country. Silver also rightfully pointed out that American-born NBA players aren’t the only ones also competing in this tourney, as Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies fans were fearfully reminded of when Pau and Marc Gasol got into a skirmish in a “friendly” match between Spain and Ukraine on Thursday.

Those other teams and players won’t feature coaches wearing polo shirts on national TV with a shoe company’s logo stretched out to the same length of the Team USA logo, prominently featured and inescapable. Those other teams aren’t providing the league’s highest-rated television partner (we love you, NBA TV, but your matinee Spain/Ukraine games don’t count) with content during the dregs of the summer. And those other teams, formidable though they may be, aren’t the ones promoting the NBA’s brand of ball overseas this summer.

As it was in 1992 with the Dream Team, a move credited with enhancing both the sport and league’s popularity across the globe. That was the first thing Adam Silver brought up, as he should, when Mark Cuban criticized the NBA’s agreement with the International Olympic Committee, and FIBA:

“The [International Olympic Committee] is playing the NBA. The IOC is an organization that has been rife with corruption, to the point where a member was accused of trying to fix an Olympic event in Salt Lake. The IOC [pulls in] billions of dollars. They make a killing and make Tony Soprano look like a saint.

“The pros in multiple sports are smart enough to not play when they are eligible free agents. But teams take on huge financial risk so that the IOC committee members can line their pockets.

“The greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money. The players and owners should get together and create our own World Cup of Basketball.”

Cuban vacillates between talking up the good health and well being of NBA players and more typical revenue concerns of his – the NBA doesn’t get the same exposure (and actual cash) that the international bodies, that shoe company, ESPN and Duke University will take in, and Mark wants the league to set up its own tournament that sees the league taking in the actual profits. Oh, and, the whole thing about allowing teams to pull its players from any tourney for reasons that would go beyond the “reasonable medical concern”-tag that is already in place.

That’s not going to happen any time soon, not with that shoe company, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Jerry Colangelo, and the IOC still lording over their sweetheart deal. Silver has mentioned twice this summer that the role of international play will be brought up in this November’s NBA Board of Governors meeting, but the tone and eventual impact of those discussions remains to be seen.

Silver also relayed Larry Bird’s early-in-the-proceedings quote about Paul George’s injury on Wednesday evening, reminding us that these sorts of injuries can happen any time – whether it’s at an NBA practice facility with full staff managing the goings-on, a Team USA scrimmage, or Nick Young firing up 30-footers in some summertime tourney. Bird and Silver are right, and Silver was correct to point out that if players were going to practice and/or participate in any tournament at any point during the summer, the best choice would certainly to do so in full view of the Team USA coaching and medical staff.

We’ve been lucky, outside of George’s injury, that NBA seasons haven’t been plagued with players still smarting from a late summer stint on a national team. Manu Ginobili sprained his right (jumping) ankle during the 2002 World Championships and it stayed with him for the duration of his entire (championship) rookie year, but he wasn’t even a technical member of the San Antonio Spurs at the time. Playing international ball just about every summer for a decade gave Toni Kukoc a nasty case of plantar fasciitis in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, but that was a different era.

There were a spate of player injuries to former Athens Olympics NBA athletes during the 2004-05 season that same writers attributed to their time spent in Greece, but the connection to those injuries and the Games was tangential at best. The most severe of which, Richard Jefferson’s season-ending wrist injury, occurred when he was undercut by Chauncey Billups near the basket.

These things build up, though.

Most can agree that the NBA’s regular season is too long, but few (not including myself, I kind of like watching LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki go at it twice a year) actually want the season shortened. It would be nicer if the NBA debuted its season earlier in October so as to allow for more time between games and a proper All-Star break, but the league seems pretty steadfast in not attempting to go up against the baseball playoffs. Good for TV rewards, to be sure, but maybe not as much for the league’s players – who are getting faster and stronger while being asked to do more and more.

What LeBron is doing right now (four straight years in the Finals, a harried exhibition schedule, international play tossed in the 2012 offseason) is just about unprecedented, and though no medical licenses hang on our walls, and a faulty air conditioner was to blame, one couldn’t get away from thoughts about James’ workload as he sat on the sidelines with cramps in what at that time was the most important game of his NBA career.

It’s a delicate, tricky situation. There is no direct line between international play and NBA athletes eventually breaking down; but that’s just as of the summer of 2014. International exposure is good and the NBA is far from a saturation point in that realm, but it’s not needed nearly as much as it was in 1992. Stars like Kevin Durant have the option to pull themselves out citing fatigue, but a move like that brings needless criticism – one national writer (whom I won’t link to, because it was a clickbait piece) that was hired by both the Associated Press and ESPN to be their lead NBA reporter at previous stops, bashed the 2014 MVP for in the writer’s estimation choosing endorsement possibilities over national pride.

We don’t want basketball to stop. On Wednesday night I had to watch a rain-delayed baseball game and actually interact with my children, for heaven’s sake. This unholy but wonderful mix of emerging young talent, returning stars, and a player in Derrick Rose looking to start it all over again has been wonderful to behold, even with all those shoe company logos everywhere. Just one guy has been injured, and though the setback will turn an entire franchise (and fanbase) on its ear, that’s just still one guy in 22 years of the NBA encouraging its players to represent their country.

The process in which we build these teams, though, needs a revisit. And Adam Silver can’t insult smart questions by hiding behind the cloak of those whose sacrifices were much greater as he ponders change.

- – - – - – -

Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

NFL claims immunity in Oakland Raiderette cheerleader lawsuit

Cheerleaders across the NFL have begun filing suits against their teams and in some cases the NFL, charging an array of offenses including improper working conditions and below-minimum wage payment. Now the NFL has responded to a suit filed by two Oakland Raiderettes cheerleaders, and is declining responsibility for any claims.

The NFL’s reasoning follows provisions that prohibit players from bringing antitrust provisions against their teams. The NFL, its attorneys argued in an Alameda County Superior Court filing, is “immune from all state Labor Code provisions,” and this is a matter between the team and the Raiderettes alone.

“The NFL is not a party to, and has no authority to enforce the Raiderette Agreement,” the NFL’s attorneys wrote. “The NFL simply does not belong in this case.”

The NFL is not disputing the facts of the case. However, attorneys argued, the NFL cannot be subject to a variety of different state labor codes, since it operates in so many different states. Sports leagues present a “unique” entity, the attorneys contended, and to subject the NFL to a variety of differing and possibly contradictory state legislation would “disrupt and have a significant impact on the whole league fabric, not just on the state’s one or two teams.”

Naturally, the plaintiffs’ attorney termed that strategy a “legal absurdity” with “no logical limit.” “If what they say is true, then no employee of any club team is afforded protections,” said Drexel Bradshaw of San Francisco’s Bradshaw & Associates, which is representing two of the cheerleaders bringing the suit. “That means anyone who is not a player – coaches, custodian, secretaries, groundskeepers, no one would be treated as a legitimate employee.”

“Every employee of the Raiders is entitled to all appropriate protections under California law,” countered Debra Fischer, one of the NFL’s attorneys, in an email to NBC Bay Area. “The assumption of the plaintiffs’ lawyer is that if they cannot successfully sue the NFL, then non-player team employees don’t have such protections. Of course they do, from the team. The team is their employer, not the NFL.”

There are two different suits involving Raiderettes, claiming that the cheerleaders worked in an environment where they needed to change in public and were subject to groping from inebriated fans. The cheerleaders were paid $125 a game, with no additional compensation. However, as of this season cheerleaders are paid $9 an hour, California’s minimum wage, for all hours they work.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.