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Cody Bellinger sees ‘exciting … fun season’ as Dodgers, Padres battle for NL West crown

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Cody Bellinger sees 'exciting … fun season' as Dodgers, Padres battle for NL West crown

In 2019, Cody Bellinger won the NL MVP award. In 2020, Bellinger and his Dodgers won the World Series. So how did it feel to have those two very significant accomplishments under his belt during spring training 2021? 

“It really and truly doesn’t feel any different,” Bellinger told SN last week, as he was doing a round of sponsored interviews on behalf of Flonase (Bellinger says he uses the nasal spray, btw). “It feels really good, obviously, but it feels the same. Everyone’s working the same way, everyone’s doing the same thing, everyone’s just getting ready for the season.” 

More of the same is a good thing for the Dodgers. 

MORE: SN’s staff predictions for the 2021 MLB season

The club has won 345 games over the past four regular seasons, and another 33 in the past four postseasons. Both of those numbers are best in the bigs, and only the Astros (340 and 33) are close. After that, only the Yankees (327 and 18) and Indians (321 and two) top 315 regular-season wins the past four years.

But it’s amazing how the narrative around the Dodgers has changed. For so long, they were looked at as the team that always had one fatal October hiccup, the team that couldn’t finish the job. Clayton Kershaw was the future Hall of Famer who couldn’t win a title.

Remember, the franchise has won the NL West eight years in a row, finishing at least 20 games over .500 every year, and didn’t win the first World Series title in the stretch until 2020. 

Now? The Dodgers won the World Series — after narrowly staving off elimination against Atlanta in the NLCS — and suddenly they look damn near unbeatable, if they’re healthy in October. Oh, and Kershaw had a 2.31 with 14 strikeouts in two World Series starts, erasing that narrative completely.

“Everyone wanted it for Kersh,” Bellinger said. “He deserves it more than anyone. It was special.”

But if the Dodgers are going to make it two titles in a row in 2021, their toughest competition is the team two hours south, down Interstate 5 along the California coast.

The rivalry between the Padres and Dodgers didn’t exist for quite a while, mostly because the Padres weren’t very good. San Diego won 90 or more games just once from 1999 to 2019. That changed last year, when San Diego finished with the second-best record in the NL (behind the Dodgers) and the third-best record in the majors. The Dodgers went 6-4 against the Padres in the shortened 2021 regular season, then swept the Padres in the second round of the NL playoffs. 

With young superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. as the face of the franchise, the Padres have built a club that will be a World Series contender for years to come. By most predictions — writers, broadcasters and Vegas — the Padres are seen as the second-best team in the National League. And they’re in the same division as the Dodgers. 

“It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be a fun season, going against those guys,” Bellinger said. “They have a lot of talented dudes. Obviously, Tatis, but guys like (Eric) Hosmer and (Manny) Machado … a lot of guys over there that can play.”

FOSTER: 21 things I really want to see during the 2021 season

The Padres were very aggressive this offseason, bolstering their rotation with trades for Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young winner — and could-have-been-2020 World Series hero —  and Yu Darvish, who finished second in the NL Cy Young voting last year. Those deals were so jaw-dropping that the trade for Joe Musgrove almost was an afterthought. But Musgrove, who struck out 12.5 batters per nine innings and posted a 3.42 FIP in eight starts with the Pirates last year, will fit nicely into the middle of the rotation along with Chris Paddack. 

Oh, and they gave Tatis a 14-year, $340 million contract extension. And they signed infielder Ha-Seong Kim, a KBO star. And they re-signed jack-of-all-trades hitter Jurickson Profar. And they signed relievers Mark Melancon and Keone Kela. It was quite the offseason.  

The Dodgers noticed, of course. Still, though, they’re confident in what they have. 

“Hopefully we can just repeat what we’ve been doing,” Bellinger said. “That’s what we’re going to do, just focus on our game and not worry about anyone else’s game.”

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Anthony Edwards has no idea who Alex Rodriguez, potential Timberwolves owner, is

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Anthony Edwards has no idea who Alex Rodriguez, potential Timberwolves owner, is

Anthony Edwards, meet Alex Rodriguez: Your potential future boss. Oh, and only one of the most singularly talented, charismatic and controversial MLB players this millennium.

As Rodriguez and e-commerce billionaire Marc Lore continue to finalize a deal with current Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to take over the Minnesota franchise, reporters began asking current players their thoughts on their potential new boss.

But Edwards, the rookie out of Georgia, has no idea who Rodriguez is, as this exceptionally funny video showcases:

MORE: Rodriguez, Marc Lore negotiating deal to buy Timberwolves

Hey, at least he’s honest. And the explanation that he simply doesn’t watch baseball — as if only MLB fans know Rodriguez — is pure comedy. It’s not as if Edwards doesn’t understand the sport of baseball, either. In the video below, he describes how he was talented enough as a multi-athlete star to play in MLB had he decided to take that career route:

To be fair, Edwards, 19, wasn’t even born yet when Rodriguez began his MLB career in 1994 with the Seattle Mariners. And he was just 15 years old when Rodriguez hung up the cleats for the final time after the 2016 season.

Still, you’d think he would have at least heard of someone who was a 14-time All-Star selection, three-time AL MVP, two-time Gold Glove Award winner and 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, among other accolades. And that’s to say nothing of his controversial PED use, which cost Rodriguez the entirety of the 2014 season due to suspension.

Look at it this way: If Rodriguez ends up gaining ownership of the Timberwolves, Edwards will have plenty of future opportunities to learn more about his new boss.

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Aaron Rodgers has perfect response for ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants who whiff on Packers question

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Aaron Rodgers has perfect response for 'Jeopardy!' contestants who whiff on Packers question

Who are the Green Bay Packers?

Only one of the most historic franchises in the history of the NFL, owner of 13 championships and four Super Bowl victories and the current team of “Jeopardy!” guest host Aaron Rodgers. Oh, and a question on Tuesday’s episode.

MORE: ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant leaves guest host Aaron Rodgers laughing with troll-tastic response

Unfortunately, all three contestants whiffed on the question after Rodgers’ introduction: “In the 1960s, these Midwesterners earned five NFL championship trophies.” Rodgers, of course, referred to Vince Lombardi’s Packers, who won titles in 1961, ’62, ’65, ’66 and ’67 — the latter two Super Bowl victories.

To make matters worse, one of the contestants then managed to correctly guess the Boston Celtics as the team to win the NBA title every year from 1959-66.

At the very least, it afforded viewers the opportunity to watch Rodgers show off his comedic chops. He clearly has picked up a few tricks from his discount double check and State Farm ad appearances. It certainly will do nothing to curb his enthusiasm for hosting the show full-time — while also serving as quarterback for the Packers.

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Jake Paul accused of sexual assault by TikTok star

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Jake Paul accused of sexual assault by TikTok star

YouTube personality-turned-boxer Jake Paul has been accused of sexual assault.

Paul’s accuser, Jasmine Paradise, posted a 20-minute YouTube video on Friday in which she claimed Paul sexually assaulted her at his Team 10 house in Los Angeles. Paradise is a TikTok star with more than 525,000 followers.

In the video, Paradise focused on events she said occurred in June and July 2019; she said she met Paul at his home in July of that year after visiting his house several times with friends starting in June. In the video, Paradise said she and Paul had several awkward encounters at first, but that one night he pulled her into a corner of his studio area and began kissing her. She said she “was fine with that. I did think he was cute.”

Afterward, however, Paradise said Paul took her into his room and began to show frustration at her reluctance to have sex with him. She said he forced her to have oral sex after she told him “No” several times.

“Sex is very special and very important to me,” Paradise said in the video. “But I haven’t had sex with that many people. Normally, everybody respects me when I don’t want to do sexual things, so I thought that it was fine if I went in his room. I thought it would be fine to kiss him, because I thought he would stop if I didn’t want to do anything else.

“He didn’t ask for consent or anything. He knew I didn’t want to do anything with him because he said, ‘If nothing is gonna happen, what’s the point?’ Then he shoves himself in me.

“That’s not okay. On no level at all is that okay.”

Paradise also posted several text conversations between her and Paul, as well as photos and videos of her at his Team 10 house, as proof of her allegations in the video.

Daniel E. Gardenswartz, Paul’s lawyer, said his client “categorically denied” Paradise’s claims in a statement (via the New York Post).

“Our client is aware of the recent allegation against him. While others have already begun to debunk the claim alleged against him, our client categorically denies the allegation and has every intention of aggressively disproving it and pursuing legal action against those responsible for the defamation of his character.”

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