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TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk April 8, 2018

TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is a weekly recap of the three (and only three) things you need to know this coming week to talk sports. Whether it’s with your boss, the gang at the office, your team, your barber, your barista, your secret crush, or your in-laws, do the TWIST and we guarantee you’ll be talking sports like a champion in no time.

Thursday turned out to be Fight Night at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Mixed martial arts fighter Conor MacGregor was charged with three counts after assaulting a bus full of UFC fighters and injuring one after a media event at the stadium.  He’s the same guy who fought boxer Floyd Mayweather last summer and was paid a reported $100 million even though he lost the bout. The Sports Desk reports that many people think the donnybrook was staged to get his name back in the press. Imagine, an MMA fighter having anger management issues. Who’d a thunk?

In related news about unexpected aggressive acts in the world of sports, in Minneapolis on Thursday night during the pre-game ceremonies for the game between the Twins and the Seattle Mariners, Challenger, the eagle assigned to a pre-game fly-in ceremony, decided to go rogue. He abandoned his handler, flew to center field, and landed twice on the shoulders of the Mariners’ starting pitcher James Paxton. Despite the fact that an eagle talon to the shoulder could land him on the DL, Paxton played it totally cool, and the eagle eventually returned to his assigned perch. For the record, Challenger has appeared at five World Series games with never a mishap. Clearly, he’s a Twins fan. The final score? Minnesota 4, Seattle 2. It’s tough to keep a close encounter with a bird that size from messing with your head.

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 April 8, 2018:

1. MLB’s first week thrills. Must know: The Evil Empire – oops, we mean the New York Yankees – are off to a good start. Giancarlo Stanton, the expensive new addition to the team, homered in his first at-bat with the team on Opening Day. However, during the weather-delayed home opener in the Bronx, Stanton struck out all five times he came to the plate. The Yanks won the game (thanks to Didi Gregorias), but Stanton was met with loud boos from the fans. Dang, New Yorkers. Give the man a break! (For the record, Stanton took the boos in stride, and hit a homer at the stadium the next day). Nice to know: Meanwhile, across town, the Mets are quietly off to a 6-1 start, giving them the second-best record in baseball at the moment. Extra credit: Los Angeles Angels rookie Shohei Ohtani homered for the first time in his big-league career in a game against Cleveland, then did it again the next day against Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, and a third time the next day. 3-for-3! The young phenom is both a pitcher and a hitter, and so far his Major League career is off to a fine start: he pitched well against the Oakland A’s earlier in the week. His home pitching debut is today. Bonus Round: To dazzle your sports-loving friends, ask them: When and what pitcher last hit 3 home runs in between starts in MLB? The answer is 1919, Babe Ruth. This kid’s someone to watch.

Shohei Ohtani and teammates celebrate his first home run at Angel Stadium

2. NBA in the home stretch. Must know: It’s the final week of the NBA regular season. The Houston Rockets have clinched first place in the West, dethroning the fearsome Golden State Warriors. The Portland Trail Blazers are currently in third. Steph Curry is hurt again, and will miss the first round of the playoffs. Nice to know: The rest of the postseason picture is clouded with uncertainty. The Toronto Raptors have to get past LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then they meet the Boston Celtics. At stake? The first place team gets home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Extra credit: The Celts are plagued by injuries, and seem to be unlikely to go very far in the postseason. The Cavs could end up anywhere from third to fifth seed as the regular season ends, yet still dominate the playoffs. And the Warriors’ dynasty is on the line. These playoffs are gonna be good.

James Harden and Steph Curry

3. Its Masters Weekend. Must know: The Masters Tournament at Augusta National is one of golf’s iconic annual events, with a purse of $11 million. The early attention was focused on the return of Tiger Woods to the competition after a three-year absence. Nice to know: Expectations about Woods’ performance started off high. He ended the first day at 1 under par, but his day 2 was less than stellar, and Woods just barely made the cut to remain in the tournament. Extra credit: As of  this posting, the top two players on the leader board are Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy. Last year’s winner, Sergio Garcia, lags far behind the field after a very rough first day (on the 15th hole, he tied a record at the Masters for the highest single hole score of 13 strokes. For those who don’t follow golf closely, all you need to know is that high numbers are bad, and 13 is really bad). Heading into Monday, you should be sure to check who wins the tournament (and also where Woods ends in the ranking). And you’ll be good to go.

The Masters

What’s that, you say? Why is there no football news? OK, here’s something for those who cannot get enough of the NFL. The Sports Desk reports that among this week’s rumors are rumblings that the New England Patriots are going to try landing Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield in the upcoming Draft as a potential successor to Tom Brady. The other name being tossed around as a potential back-up QB for the Pats is free agent and former Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel. Watch this space for further updates.

And for hockey fans, it’s important to know that the NHL playoffs are starting this week.

You probably already know that Villanova won the March Madness championship with a win over Michigan. Team Dandelion Chandelier ended up in a good place in our friendly March Madness pool – we came in 4th and won a nice little monetary prize (which we fully intend to blow on French fries and shakes with the Sports Desk). The calories don’t count when you’re spending prize money!

That’s it. You’re good to go. See you next week.

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