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Keeler: Kris Bryant would look awesome in Rockies purple. But do you trust Bill Schmidt land a star after whiffing on Trevor Story and Jon Gray?



Keeler: Kris Bryant would look awesome in Rockies purple. But do you trust Bill Schmidt land a star after whiffing on Trevor Story and Jon Gray?

The Bill Schmidt Era is off to a roaring start. If your idea of “roaring” is watching the Rockies hit the gas with their right foot while they pound the brakes with their left.

Adam Ottavino couldn’t spin the Jon Gray saga into something that doesn’t want to make you bang your head on the kitchen counter.

Instead of moving their veteran right-hander this past summer, when there were suitors lurking, the Rockies said they planned to keep Gray. Schmidt, the then-interim-and-now-full-time Colorado general manager, explained at the time that he felt the pitcher was interested in sticking around.

“We’re hopeful that Jon would like to stay here, which I believe he does,” Schmidt told The Post’s Patrick Saunders back in July, “and that we’re going to be able to find a common ground.”

Spoiler alert: They never did.

The Rockies feared Gray would accept a 1-year, $18.4-million qualifying offer, so they declined to offer one, making him a free agent. This past Sunday night, during the mad shopping spree before the inevitable MLB lockout, the right-hander got away — joining the Texas Rangers on a four-year, $56-million deal — for nothing.

No prospects. Nada.

So while Kris Bryant would look incredible in Rockies purple, take Schmidt’s reported attempts at finding “common ground” with the former Cubs and Giants slugger with a grain of salt.

Or a shot of whiskey.

Oh, he fits. Like a glove. Bryant would immediately become the face of a franchise that traded off one (Nolan Arenado) and is letting two more walk (Gray, Trevor Story).

Bryant slots in at third, first, or in the outfield. He’d turn Coors Field into his personal launching pad. After Nikola Jokic and maybe Nathan MacKinnon, he’d become the biggest star in town, at least until the Broncos have a change of heart at quarterback.

Here’s the problem. When MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweeted Tuesday that the Rockies’ interest in Bryant was because “they are obviously aiming to compete in 2022” … just …. just … stop.

Stop right there.

If you’re “obviously trying to compete in 2022,” you don’t let a core member of your rotation since 2015, a 2.7 WAR pitcher in 2021, a guy who has the kind of stuff that plays at Coors Field, walk away without a fight.

Is Gray worth $18.4 million with a lifetime 53-49 record, a 4.59 ERA and a 3.91 FIP when German Marquez is making $11.3 million in 2022? Compared to his peers? No way.

But if you’re going for it, then Bryant can’t be the only big piece added to the picture.

Gray pitched 150 innings, on average, in 2019 and ’21. Who fills that gap? The bullpen?

Pony up. Go long. Call Clayton Kershaw. When he laughs and hangs up, call again. Marcus Stroman, same deal. Why should the Rangers, Tigers, Mariners and the Mets have all the fun?

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Nikola Jokic repeating as MVP? Why these NBA analysts think Nuggets center can pull it off



Nikola Jokic repeating as MVP? Why these NBA analysts think Nuggets center can pull it off

Stan Van Gundy has Nikola Jokic’s back. On the block. On the wing. And on Twitter.

Especially on Twitter.

“Everybody’s locked up on him the entire game,” the former NBA coach and Turner Sports analyst told The Denver Post late last week. “The other team is trying to stop him. And he’s still producing.”

With that, Van Gundy laughed, incredulously and helplessly. There’s a long way to go yet, and a season that’s already featured more twists than a bag of pretzels, thanks to injuries and COVID protocols, no doubt has more curveballs left to throw.

Could one of those curves be Jokic, the Nuggets’ star center, repeating as NBA MVP?

“You’ve got to remember: Jokic is doing all this without (help),” Avery Johnson, the former NBA guard and coach, currently an analyst with CBS Sports HQ, said of the Denver All-Star. “Batman needs Robin. And Robin (guard Jamal Murray) is injured.”

Which makes the performances from a guy who’s on a pace for 19 triple-doubles this season — Jokic collected 16 a season ago — even more impressive.

“(It) requires even more discipline,” Johnson said. “(Because) he’s drawing even more attention, and through it all, he continues to play at an elite level that makes opposing coaches lose sleep the night before games.”

As a former coach, Van Gundy is as much in awe of the mental side of the Joker’s game — the Serbian 7-footer was averaging 25.9 points, 13.9 rebounds and 7.4 assists heading into Friday’s tussle with Memphis — as he is the numbers.

So much so, in fact, that the analyst went to Twitter on Jan. 14 to declare Jokic as his No. 1 choice for NBA MVP, followed by LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. The replies from fans outside the Front Range were not, as you would expect, kind.

Although Van Gundy’s getting some company on the bandwagon:’s Michael C. Wright this past Friday slotted the Joker as No. 1 in the latest Kia “Race to the MVP Ladder,” ahead of Antetokounmpo, Embiid and Durant. And Wright’s argument was largely the same as Van Gundy’s — with no Murray (zero games) and very little Michael Porter Jr. (nine games) around to take feeds and occupy defenders, few players, statistically or aesthetically, have done more with less.

“Anytime you have suspect shooting around you, it’s going to make it easier to load up, defensively, on him, and that’s what has happened,” Van Gundy said. “The intensity steps up a notch. So the season he’s had is phenomenal.”

The Nuggets had to do without Jokic’s services for four games in late November, a stretch that featured the Bulls and Bucks at home and the Suns and Blazers on the road. Denver lost all four contests, by an average of 16.3 points per game.

“If you tell me Nikola Jokic isn’t the MVP, then who is?” Malone said after the Joker’s NBA-best 10th triple-double of the season this past Wednesday against the Clippers, a 10-assist evening that ended with a cross-court pass, over a double-team, to Aaron Gordon for a game-winning trey. “That guy can beat you with his passing, his scoring, his rebounding.”

Johnson said his MVP vote at the regular season’s midway point would likely go to the Warriors’ Steph Curry “for his overall body of work,” but that the Joker is in “the top 3, for sure, the way he’s played … it’s not like anybody’s really running away with it at this point.”

And if you don’t think Jokic can win another MVP award on a team that could miss out on a top-4 seed, Van Gundy’s got two words for you:

Russell Westbrook.

“Westbrook, when he got his one in Oklahoma City (in 2016-17), when (Kevin) Durant was out, the (Thunder) weren’t great that year,” Van Gundy said. “We’re in a league now where the best teams have two and even three stars.

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Dolphins’ first-round draft position again pushed back following another upset playoff win for 49ers



Dolphins’ first-round draft position again pushed back following another upset playoff win for 49ers

The value of the Miami Dolphins’ first-round pick from the San Francisco 49ers just keeps diminishing.

With a second consecutive playoff upset victory pulled off by the 49ers, the pick they’re sending to the Dolphins will now be one of the final four selections of the upcoming NFL draft’s first round.

San Francisco defeated the top-seeded Green Bay Packers, 13-10, in the NFC’s divisional round on Saturday night, and for the Dolphins, that means the best the pick can be is No. 29 as the 49ers advance to the NFC Championship Game against either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Los Angeles Rams.

The remaining scenarios: 49ers lose and Cincinnati Bengals win in AFC Championship Game, the pick is 29; 49ers lose and Bengals lose, 30; 49ers lose in Super Bowl, 31; 49ers win in Super Bowl, 32.

Had San Francisco lost on Saturday night at Lambeau Field, the pick would’ve been settled at No. 25.

It’s the third consecutive week that the selection is negatively impacted. Had the Los Angeles Rams held on to a late lead in the regular season finale against the 49ers, San Francisco would’ve been eliminated with the pick being No. 17. The 49ers’ upset win over the Cowboys in the wild-card round then pushed the selection further back from No. 22.

The Dolphins own the 49ers’ selection while the Philadelphia Eagles have Miami’s pick due to the two trades the Dolphins pulled off with the NFC teams last offseason ahead of the 2021 NFL draft. Miami traded back to No. 12 with San Francisco, sending the No. 3 pick, which previously belonged to the Houston Texans, to the 49ers. A move up from 12 to 6, where wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was selected, followed and sent the Dolphins’ 2022 first-rounder to Philadelphia.

The Dolphins are selecting around 15 spots lower than they would be had they traded the 49ers’ pick to the Eagles instead of their own. The Miami selection going to Philadelphia in the upcoming draft is No. 15. The Dolphins also got a 2023 first-round pick from the 49ers in the deal.

With Miami’s reported affirmation early in the offseason that it will stick with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins seem unlikely to send this first-round pick to another team in a trade.

There are a number of offensive tackles and wide receivers that could go around where the Dolphins will be picking, as general manager Chris Grier and Miami’s new incoming coach will look to address team needs.

The NFL draft is ordered by first having the 18 non-playoff teams pick in reverse order of record, with lower strength of schedule serving as a tiebreaker. Picks 19-24 are then reserved for the wild-card round losers in reverse order of regular-season record. Picks 25-28 go to divisional round losers and so on until the Super Bowl champion picks 32nd.

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Letters: Legislators, hear the catalytic-converter call



Letters: Legislators, hear the catalytic-converter call

Legislators, we need catalytic-converter help

While it is gratifying to see that the St. Paul City Council has addressed the issue of catalytic converter thefts, for myself and many others it is too little and too late.

In the middle of last year my car’s converter was stolen while the vehicle was in a locked, underground apartment garage. Later, my RV’s one was taken while it was in a locked, fenced storage lot.

Since these thefts were not in St. Paul, I don’t think this city ordinance would help.

As suggested in the Jan. 20 article, it is hoped that the state will also investigate this problem.

Also, why haven’t the insurance companies made complaints about the lack of laws concerning these thefts?

Alinda Wengenroth, Inver Grove Heights


Where the blame belongs

Why do the media blame the president for issues he has no control over? If the Republicans were really interested in preserving our democracy, they would be on board to support the nation’s voting integrity. Evidence of changing voting laws to disenfranchise voters in 19 states is very well known. If they wanted to make sure that we retain our right to vote they would be supporters of the bills.

The two Democrats who oppose ditching the filibuster are not the fault of the president. It seems no matter how much he pleads to change their position they seem to believe the Republicans will come around and negotiate. It isn’t going to happen. And when the Republicans take charge of congress, they will certainly get rid of the filibuster because it will suit their needs.

When you have a public that is brainwashed by pundits and the former president and his political allies concerning vaccines and masking against the procedures, the fault is not Biden’s. The opponents talk about the rights of the individual and are certainly not concerned about the health of the nation’s citizens.

The media should put the blame where it belongs.

Gary Spooner, Cottage Grove


Plowing problems

On Friday Jan. 14 we received a snowfall of over 3 inches. The snow emergency routes were plowed but not the side streets.

On Tuesday night, Jan. 18, at 11 p.m. a snowplow came through, four days after the snow fell.

Because no one was notified cars weren’t moved so after the plow came large ridges of snow surrounded the vehicles. Imagine if that is a vehicle belonging to a nurse or doctor attempting to go to work the next morning.

Are we saving money with this “new” snow removal plan? Paying someone to plow at 11 p.m.? Waiting four days after a storm for plow service?

My taxes are going up. Could things maybe improve? Someone in charge needs to address this ineptitude.

Carol Dey, St. Paul

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