Gostkowski: 'I'm not afraid to fail'

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Gostkowski: 'I'm not afraid to fail'

FOXBORO -- If a kicker is accurate in his work, you probably won't remember him. Specialists have to do something tremendously heroic, like win a couple Super Bowls, to really become famous. Otherwise, they simply try to avoid infamy.
Stephen Gostkowski addressed quite a crowd, probably the biggest of his career, after New England's 20-18 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
Because he missed one field goal out of five. The game-winner.
"Had a good game up until that point and I felt good going out there," he said of the final kick. "It's just one of those things where you get opportunities like that not very often and I've got to do a lot better job of coming through for the team. It came down to me and I didn't pull through. And it stinks, and I feel bad for my fans and my teammates. I can't take it back now. I went out and felt good about the kick, I just didn't execute."
Gostkowski's chance came with five seconds remaining in the game. Arizona was up 20-18 and had just one minute to kill before flying home with the upset. But the Patriots defense came through. Brandon Spikes knocked the ball loose from Cardinals running back Ryan Williams to regain possession. Tom Brady managed to get Gostkowski on the Arizona 24.
42 yards was all they needed. Patriots fans were going wild. The win was one boot away from soaring into the bag; Gostkowski was ready.
"I felt good going out there," he said. "It wasn't the smoothest hit and I looked up and saw it was left and I was like."
Here, he hung his head.
"Sometimes the ball doesn't fly your way. There's probably not another game where I'd be more confident going out for a kick like that. And it humbles you really quick."
The kicker fell far.
For three quarters Gostkowski was the only Patriot who could score. The guy was booming kicks during warmups, splitting the uprights from 58-yards out with room to spare. During the game he hit from 46, 34, 51, and 53 yards.
Turns out, the early efficiency doesn't mean much. Gostkowski said sometimes a kicker can indeed get in a rhythm, find a zone. But every kick is different. A golden leg two hours before the first snap doesn't guarantee three points when the final score is suddenly resting on your shoulders.
Which is something Gostkowski reconciled long ago.
"I'm not scared to fail," he said evenly. "It stinks when you do, but I wouldn't go out there every day if I was scared to screw up. I'll feel bad about this for a couple days. I'm sure I'll get ripped for it by the fans and stuff, and it's well deserved. My teammates have my back. Nobody feels worse about missing a kick than I do.
"You just have to move on, get over it It's the good ones you get over; it's the bad games that last a while. If I let this affect me negatively, I'm not doing my job. "

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Former Celtics and current Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo is up to his old tricks, apparently.

The Bulls have suspended Rondo for Monday’s game due to conduct detrimental to the team, with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical saying that the suspension is the result of a “heated exchange” the 30-year-old had with a Bulls assistant during or after the team’s 107-82 loss to the Mavericks Saturday. 

Rondo clashing with others is nothing new. He once shattered a television on which the Celtics were showing him game footage to critique him and had to be carried out kicking and screaming by Kevin Garnett. Chris Sheridan reported in 2013 that Doc Rivers had an “intense dislike” for Rondo and that the two almost fought.

After being traded out of Boston, Rondo was suspended for a game by the Mavericks after a shouting match with Rick Carlisle. Last December, he was suspended for calling referee Bill Kennedy a homophobic slur, leading to Kennedy coming out as gay. 

Interestingly enough, there's something of a pattern of Rondo's bigger infractions occuring in games against former teams. The Kennedy incident came in a game against the Celtics, while this recent one was against Dallas. 

This is the first season of a two-year, $28 million Rondo signed with the Bulls in the offseason. He is averaging 8.2 points per game, 7.2 assists per game and 6.7 rebounds a night.