Max Scherzer once hilariously erased $1,000 off a teammate’s gambling debt with one warmup pitch

Max really is mad for this one.

We already knew New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer was the best kind of maniac on the mound. Now The Athletic’s Rustin Dodd and Jayson Jenks revealed just how much fun he has off it in an incredible piece on Scherzer.

The article mostly gave a behind-the-scenes look, via Scherzer’s former catchers, at the legend of Scherzer and provided a few glimpses of his personality.

The interesting tidbits that arose were the stories told about Scherzer’s competitive spirit towards betting and fantasy sports — things that we can all relate to.

Gerald Laird described Scherzer as “a finagler” before Rick Porcello, Alex Avila and Bryan Holaday went on to reminisce about the time Scherzer took a fantasy football draft pick away from a league member in a complete and unnecessary flex of power as the league commissioner.

But it was Shawn Kelley explaining how he paid off some gambling debt to Scherzer in the midst of a regular-season game that really goes to show how much the pitcher likes to mess around during his off days.

“So I was down some debt to Max over some bad bets that I made on some NBA playoff basketball and hockey playoffs. He was feeling bad for my poor little reliever self with his big Cy Young money, so he said: “I’ll tell you what, I’ll erase a $1,000 of your debt if you go out there and you just throw one warmup pitch and just say, ‘[Expletive] it, I’m ready to go.’” I took a bunch of extra warmup pitches in the bullpen and I went out there and threw one warmup pitch and said, “Hey, I’m ready.” The ump was like, “What?” And I’m like, “No, I’m ready, let’s go.” It didn’t go real well, but I did get some of my money back. Of course, I look in the dugout and Max is just grinning ear to ear.”

Props to Kelley for going through with this and even more kudos to Scherzer for putting entertainment over profits.

The big takeaway here is that Max Scherzer is a national treasure — one whose affection for fantasy sports and betting isn’t all that different from mine and yours.

Gannett may earn revenue from Tipico for audience referrals to betting services. Tipico has no influence over nor are any such revenues in any way dependent on or linked to the newsrooms or news coverage. See Tipico.com for Terms and Conditions. 21+ only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO).

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Steam’s most wishlisted game asks for volunteers to finish development

The Day Before developer is recruiting volunteers to finish game.

The Day Before, a zombie survival-based MMO, currently the most wishlisted game on Steam, is recruiting volunteers in order to finish development.

Recently delayed until March 2023, developer Fntastic has changed its website to explain the company’s culture, and ask for volunteers. The most recent delay was apparently caused by the team switching development to the recently released and much improved Unreal Engine 5.

The team added a ‘Volunteer’ page to the company website stating “Fntastic’s culture is based on the idea of volunteering. This means that every Fntastic member is a volunteer.” The team also makes references to the people working there as volunteers multiple times across the site.

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The team, which is from Singapore, speaks English non-natively which could be to blame for the confusion. Fntastic claims it is a voluntary culture, splitting volunteers into full-time salaried volunteers, and part-time unpaid volunteers. Salaried employees do not fit the description of volunteers, who are not paid as part of the definition.

However, the part-time volunteers who are remunerated via “cool rewards, participation certificates, and free codes” would fit the definition. Smaller teams sometimes use passionate volunteers for smaller tasks such as community moderation for social media such as Discord or Twitch. However, the tasks which Fntastic is asking volunteers to fulfil fall outside of the usual scope, and would usually be undertaken by paid workers.

In its description Fntastic asks for volunteers who can help with “various activities ranging from translating to community moderating,” going on to say that “Part-time volunteers also can offer their unique skills to improve our projects or create new special features.” Translation and programming features are both difficult and specialized tasks, often classified as highly-skilled work. As such these jobs are usually rewarded financially.

The game recently passed its initial release date of June 21. 2022, supposedly owing to the change in game engine. However, due to the addition of the volunteer page, fans suspect that it has run into issues with development, and are now looking to recruit global volunteers. Fntastic has yet to clarify its position. 

Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF

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Damian Lillard started brazenly recruiting Kevin Durant with an Instagram photo edit

Nothing wrong with a little bit of recruiting.

We are less than a week away from free agency and the madness is picking up.

Popular questions include — who will sign where? And, which players might be traded. More specifically, what is going to happen with the Brooklyn Nets?

Kyrie Irving’s future is up in the air, thus leading to Kevin Durant’s possibly being in a similar state. As a result, people are putting their (faux) bids in — fans are putting players into their favorite teams’ jerseys and also putting ESPN’s trade machine to use.

However, one jersey swap stands above them all. That is Damian Lillard’s photo that he posted to his Instagram story of him and KD (in a Portland Trail Blazers jersey) appearing next to one another.

Is Dame doing a little recruiting on the off chance that Durant becomes available for trade? Sure seems like it. And until we know more, we’ll just assume that’s all that this is.

NBA free agency begins on Thursday, June 30th at 6 pm ET. Get your popcorn ready.

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Sabrina Ionescu hit the “night night” celebration and Stephen Curry loved it

Channeling Steph is never a bad thing.

Caught up in anticipation of what next week could mean for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets? Don’t waste your time stressing. New York natives (and anyone else) could be having the time of their lives watching the brilliance of Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty.

In Friday night’s win over the Atlanta Dream, Ionescu dropped 21 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 threes.

However, the highlight of the night was undoubtedly when Ionescu, in the final moments of the game, drained a deep three and delivered a fantastic “night night” celebration — straight from the book of Stephen Curry.

Curry even caught wind of the celebration and shouted out Ionescu via Twitter, telling her to “start a movement.”

The win at Atlanta marked the Liberty’s seventh in their last 10 games. They are easily one of the W’s hottest teams after a brutal 1-7 beginning to the season. It could be a sneaky good time to get in on their +4000 championship odds at Tipico Sportsbook.

It may also be worth putting down a little wager on Sabrina Ionescu’s +1500 MVP odds. She’s averaging 19.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists over the last 10 games. More New York wins and more Ionescu good games could shorten those odds.

Keep an eye out.

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Lakers Summer League games just got way more interesting with Shaq and Scottie Pippen’s sons playing together

The Lakers’ Summer League team should be fun!

One thing about the Los Angeles Lakers is that they’ll never fail to bring in some big names. I mean, it is Hollywood after all. And how many bigger names are there in the NBA community than O’Neal and Pippen?

The Lakers traded into Thursday’s draft and took Max Christie with the 35th pick — a nice get for them, all things considered. But the Lakers’ two most noteworthy gets came at the draft’s conclusion when it was announced the Lakers had signed both Shareef O’Neal and Scotty Pippen Jr.

Of course, Shareef O’Neal is the son of Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal. And yes, Scotty Pippen Jr. is exactly who you think it is — the son of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen.

Pippen Jr. will be one of the Lakers’ two-way players, while O’Neal gets a shot to compete for the purple and gold during the summer league.

These moves are already outstanding ones for the Lakers’ marketing teams but could also be great on-court additions should O’Neal and Pippen Jr. play anything like their old men.

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If we must have a draft for the NBA, can we not spoil it?

What’s the rush?

Welcome to Layup Lines, our daily NBA newsletter where we’ll prep you for a tip-off of tonight’s action, from what to watch to bets to make. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox every afternoon.

What’s up y’all. It’s Prince here for Layup Lines, and I want to admit something here as we get ready for tonight’s NBA Draft: I’m not a fan of drafts.

That’s right, I formally declare myself a member of Team No Drafts. I’m just not a fan of the concept. But that’s an argument for another day. The reality is that drafts exist. And as they are, they can sometimes make for decent television – which is why they’ll probably always be here.

But you know what ruins that television product? When you already know what’s going to happen. And that’s my most immediate issue with the NBA Draft. When the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets make picks 1, 2 and 3 tonight, there will be little to no suspense. We already know what’s going to happen thanks to Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA insider for the network that broadcasts the draft.

Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero. Those are the picks, in that order. We suspected they might be, but a report from Woj this morning before I even had my first cup of coffee all but confirmed it.

Now, you may be thinking, “But there’s still 55 more picks to be made – 11 more in the lottery.” And you’re right. But many of those will also be reported on Twitter before they happen – likely by Woj and his fellow insider Shams Charania.

Now, I don’t necessarily blame those guys for breaking the news they’re privy to. The game is the game, and it isn’t limited to the NBA. But that doesn’t mean I have to like the game. It robs the draft of a lot of intrigue. But hey, maybe while they’re at it, they’ll drop a few trades on the timeline to spice things up.

The Tip-Off

Some NBA goodness from around the USA TODAY Sports network.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

We’ll get a little more familiar with the prospects in tonight’s draft as they’re featured on the broadcast and as we see them take the floor in the months and years to come. But my colleague Bryan Kalbrosky’s interview series is great place to start your introduction.

His conversation with France’s Ousmane Dieng went live today, and while the 19-year-old has a lot of room to grow, he more than earned his projected lottery status as a pro in Australia.

“It was difficult at first. Australia is really far from France. But it made me grow as a man. I’m more mature and more mentally strong. It helped me a lot. I was the youngest player in the league. I had to earn my minutes. I had to earn my position with the team. I was a hard worker. With grown men and pros, everything is faster and quicker. It was more physical. The players are so good. I had to make decisions quickly. I progressed a lot.”

Dieng, who named Kobe Bryant as one of the first players he watched, said he hopes to be an MVP one day. It’ll be fun to see how these players with such high hopes and dreams pan out in the future and which ones develop into the stars people believe they can be.

One to Watch

(All odds via Tipico.)

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Sky (-190) vs. Los Angeles Sparks (+4.5, +155), O/U 173.5, 10:30 PM ET

In their first game since dropping 104 points in the largest comeback win in WNBA history, the Sky face a Sparks squad that simply bleeds points. Only one team allows more points than LA’s 87.3 opponent average, and the Sparks play at a pace that allows them to score too. So I’m looking for this game to hit the over. These teams scored 176 points in regulation of their first meeting, which went to overtime.

Shootaround

— The answer to just about any question you could have about tonight’s NBA Draft is here in For The Win’s NBA Draft Guide 2022.

— And here’s a fun game to get you ready the draft: 7 bets that have nothing to do with who gets picked.

Sportsbooks had to scramble after the Woj bomb on the top three picks.

— If you struggle with the rigged carnival basketball games, don’t worry. So does the greatest shooter ever, Steph Curry.

Gannett may earn revenue from Tipico for audience referrals to betting services. Tipico has no influence over nor are any such revenues in any way dependent on or linked to the newsrooms or news coverage. See Tipico.com for Terms and Conditions. 21+ only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA).

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Heroic coach saved a U.S. artistic swimmer, who fainted in the pool mid-competition

This had to be a scary moment.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Anita Alvarez may have pushed herself a little too hard Wednesday at the FINA World Championships in Budapest.

In the midst of what head coach Andrea Fuentes called Alvarez’s “best performance ever,” the artistic swimmer fainted and sank to the bottom of the pool during her solo free routine. That’s when Fuentes jumped into hero mode, diving into the water fully clothed to rescue Alvarez before tragedy could strike.

Fuentes took to Instagram after the competition to say Alvarez was doing OK after being evaluated by doctors and to remind people that this type of thing happens in high-endurance sports. But the pictures remain terrifying.

Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

“Anita’s solo was so good too, it was her best performance ever, she just pushed through her limits and she found them,” Fuentes said on Instagram. “But Anita is ok and the doctors also said she is fine.”

USA Artistic swimming said Alvarez will continue to be monitored before it’s determined whether she can compete in the free team final on Friday.

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Ryan Jensen’s loyalties are split in Stanley Cup Finals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen is wearing his divided loyalties on his sleeve for the NHL’s final playoff series

They call it “Champa Bay” for a reason.

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just a year removed from defending a Super Bowl victory, the Tampa Bay Lightning have won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

The Bolts are gunning for their third straight championship, this time facing off against the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals, and both teams have the same connection to the Bucs.

Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay’s Pro Bowl center, grew up in Colorado as a huge fan of Denver’s professional sports teams. He was in the house for Game 2 between the Lightning and the Avalanche, but his loyalties were clearly divided:

The Bolts are down 2-0 in the series to the Avs, and coming off a shocking 7-0 defeat in Game 2. That said, they were down 2-0 in the previous series to the New York Rangers (and losing 2-0 in Game 3) before winning four straight to advance to the finals for the third straight year.

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