You don’t love professional sports, but your livelihood and/or personal happiness depends upon your being able to converse intelligently about it. Dear reader, you need to learn how to talk sports. The TWIST is our weekly Dandelion Chandelier guide to what’s happened on the field, on the court and on the ice. Every weekend you’ll find the three (and only three) things you need to know this coming week to speak cogently about professional sports with the boss, the gang at the office, your barber, your barista, your secret crush, or your in-laws. We promise you’ll be sports-literate in no time.
This week’s edition of TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk, in homage to last Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, begins with the news that New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski may depart the NFL for the silver screen. It’s been reported that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Sylvester Stallone have both urged him to retire now and head to Hollywood, where muscular, charming, good-looking dudes can sometimes make a great deal of money. Without risking injury. Given that The Rock just signed a $20 million deal for his next action flick, the logic is pretty persuasive. Could Gronk be the new Schwarzenegger? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, for Those Who Do Not Follow Professional Sports, here’s what you need to know this week (and not a single thing more).
3 for the week of March 11, 2018:
1. NBA enters the home stretch. Must know: There are only 15 games left in the NBA regular season; the playoffs begin in three weeks. Nice to know: The Houston Rockets and the Portland Trail Blazers are on fire right now: Portland has won 8 straight as of this posting, and the Rockets are on a streak with 17 straight wins. But even that stellar performance puts Houston only one game up on the fearsome Golden State Warriors as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Extra credit: In the East, the race to watch is the rebooted Cleveland Cavaliers versus the youth-fueled Boston Celtics (who have won 6 of their last 7 games) – the Celts have already clinched their playoff berth.
2. Spring training in Major League Baseball. Must know: The regular season for the MLB is starting earlier than ever in its history; Opening Day is March 29th, and spring training is well underway in Florida and Arizona. Nice to know: Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge has announced that he won’t be participating in the mid-summer Home Run Derby this year. He crushed it last summer, but cooled off once regular play resumed; apparently he doesn’t want to repeat that pattern this year. Extra credit: As of this posting, several prominent free agents are still unsigned, including former Chicago Cubs pitcher and Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and former Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher Alex Cobb. Third-baseman Mike Moustakas (who set the Kansas City Royals’ single-season record for home runs last season) has reached an agreement on a one-year contract that keeps him in Kansas City and guarantees him $6.5 million.
3. NFL News. Must know: Big trades and deals have commenced in the NFL, as the free agency period starts this week. Pittsburg Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell has been “franchise tagged,” meaning that he has to remain with the team one more season before becoming a free agent. All eyes are on free agent QB Kirk Cousins – will he end up with the Denver Broncos, the Minnesota Vikings, or the New York Jets? And at what price tag? (Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson made a pitch this weekend that Cousins should sign with his team). The Seattle Seahawks are trading defensive end Michael Bennett to the Philadelphia Eagles. His brother, Martellus Bennett, was released this week from the New England Patriots – the rumor is that the Pats made a better offer than the Eagles for Michael, and that the brothers were keen to play together, but the offer came too late. Nice to know: Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones this week agreed to pay the NFL $2 million in legal fees, the final resolution of his dustup with the league over the 5-year contract extension for Commissioner Roger Goodell. Extra credit: It was reported this week that former Denver Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning sold his 31 Papa John restaurants right before NFL dropped the pizza chain as an official sponsor. Hmmm.
Finally, today is Selection Sunday for March Madness – the day when the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee of 10 reveals which 68 teams have made the field for this year’s basketball championships. Team Dandelion Chandelier has been invited to join a friendly pool for the tournament. So we’ll keep you posted on the match-ups, and on our progress. Our Sports Desk likes Michigan State, Duke, West Virginia and Villanova. Get your brackets on – the first game is Tuesday.
That’s it. You’re good to go. See you next week.