Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal receives threats after tweeting in support of Cardinals

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Bradley Beal, the No. 3 overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, was born in St. Louis, grew up there, and became the best high school basketball player in the city’s recent history at Chaminade College Prep.

Like most St. Louisans, his love for the Cardinals runs deep. Even while at the University of Florida for his one-and-done freshman campaign, Beal could often be spotted wearing a red fitted Cardinals hat.

But he now lives and works in Washington, D.C. and will head up a promising young Wizards backcourt this season alongside former University of Kentucky star John Wall. You can probably guess where this story is headed…

Beal sent out a congratulatory tweet — “STL turnupppp !!!” — after the Cardinals pulled off their stunning ninth-inning comeback Friday in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals. It swiftly brought on negative reaction from sports fans in and around the nation’s capital, including threats and requests that he be traded.

“People forget I’m from St. Louis!” Beal, who turned 19 years old on draft night, tried to explain in a follow-up tweet. “It was a great comeback for my home team, am I wrong for cheering them on?”

Beal spoke with Michael Lee of the Washington Post on Saturday about the reaction:

“I was hearing threats and everything, like, ‘Watch your back,’” Beal said. “People were like, ‘I’m not going to cheer for you.’ I was like, whatever. It was probably moreso the timing, but at the same time, it’s my city. It’s not going to affect the way I play. I got to do something to redeem myself, I guess. … Every time I stopped watching the game, they started [coming back]. They did it last year, and they came back and won. That’s how it is.”

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.