TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is a weekly recap of the three things you need to know this coming week to participate in conversations about sports. Game on.
This week, our update begins with a tip of the hat to Justify, the winner of the rain-soaked 144th Kentucky Derby. The chestnut colt did not race as a 2-year old, becoming the first thoroughbred with that status to win the Derby since 1882. Justify’s owners won $1.4 million, and jockey Mike Smith won his second Derby.
We’re also celebrating the happy news that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will play this season. Yay! I know that some of you were intensely worried about this (you know who you are). Enjoy it while it lasts. During an interview at the elite Milken Institute Global Conference in LA earlier this week, he shared that he has his wife’s approval to play at least two more years. Brady says he wants to keep playing because “I want to inspire people.” On behalf of people aged 40+ everywhere on the planet, consider it done.
Now, let’s talk about the truly important issue of the week: what are Tom and Giselle going to wear to the Met Costume Institute Gala in New York tomorrow night?
In other Pats’ news, 76-year old team owner Robert Kraft was a leading voice in the campaign to get Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill released from prison (the #FreeMeekMill movement was based on the disparate treatment of the black artist, who had committed only non-violent offenses but was sentenced to 2-4 years behind bars). He’s been released, and this week, Mill and Kraft were seen sitting together at a Boston Celtics game, along with rapper Gucci Mane. While some were intrigued by the presence of these unlikely three caballeros, and dying to know what they were discussing, Kraft was ridiculed by some for looking totally out of place and lost. We’re down with Kraft’s public support of criminal justice system reform, and find it kind of sweet that he wants to connect with people who have had such dramatically different life circumstances than his. Therefore, we have high hopes for him: if Martha Stewart can hang with Snoop, we’re sure that Kraft can ultimately pull this off. #Squadgoal: teach every member of the posse how to look chill at all times. Personally, we’d start with a new haircut, Mr. Kraft.
Meanwhile, for Those Who Do Not Follow Professional Sports, here’s what you need to know this week.
3 for the week of May 6, 2018:
1. NBA Finals Round 2. Must know: As of this weekend, suddenly the Western Conference is confounding expectations, and the Eastern Conference has settled down with two clearly dominant teams. That’s the opposite of what was expected and what was happening just a few days ago. The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently 3-0 over the previously favored Toronto Raptors thanks to a phenomenal buzzer-beater from LeBron James at last night’s game. This week, James became the first player to reach four postseason games of 40 points and 10 assists, surpassing the great Michael Jordan. As one sportswriter put it: “every night in these Finals, LeBron James is single-handedly carrying 11 grown men around on his back.” That’s why he’s the King. Nice to know: Also in the East, the Boston Celtics are 3-0 in series over the previously red-hot Philadelphia 76’ers – the Sixers blew a 22-point lead in the first half in Game 2 and lost in overtime in Game 3 last night. Meanwhile, in the West, Steph Curry is back, and the Golden State Warriors started strong over the New Orleans Pelicans – but are now 2-1 after a stinging defeat in Game 3. They meet again this afternoon. The Houston Rockets are 2-1 against the Utah Jazz after a surprise loss in Game 2. They play Game 4 tonight, and Round 2 of the Finals continues all week. Extra credit: The New York Knicks have announced they will hire David Fizdale as their new head coach. Rumors are already swirling that once LeBron James enters free agency after the playoffs, he might consider the Knicks, as he has a close relationship with Fizdale from their time together with the Miami Heat. Our Sports Desk says that such a move is extremely unlikely – but hey, a fan can dream.
2. MLB Stars. Must know: The New York Yankees have a hot hand, having won 14 of their last 15 games. That’s their best streak since 1998. Sadly, the New York Mets have cooled down from their hot start this season, in part due to injuries – they’ve lost 8 of their last 10. Nice to know: First baseman Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels has joined the elite 3,000 hit club, with a broken-bat single against the Seattle Mariners on Friday. Only 32 players in the history of MLB have achieved that. Props to him for the dramatic finale — break the bat, drop the mic, it’s all good. Extra credit: The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to lead the National League West, 21-11; the LA Dodgers had been expected to run away with the division, but they currently sit at 15-17, 6 games back. Bonus Round: Seattle Mariners’ legend and future Hall-of-Famer Ichiro Suzuki will transition to the role of special assistant to the chairman with the ball club, effective immediately. He played for 18 seasons, starting when he was 27 years old, and joins an elite group of players with a career record of at least 3,000 hits and 500 steals.
3. NFL Pays Up. Must know: Matt Ryan (aka “Matty Ice”) of the Atlanta Falcons has signed the most lucrative contract in NFL history: $30 million per year guaranteed over 5 years. The next quarterback up is the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rogers, and our Sports Desk thinks he’ll get paid even more. He has two years left on a $42 million contract, and the speculation is that he might re-sign for six years at $180 million. In terms of player contracts, these numbers sound huge, but in fact, the NFL is just catching up to the NBA and MLB – the first NBA contract for $100 million was signed in 1995. Citizens of Patriots Nation would like to highlight that this is further proof that their QB Tom Brady has long been underpaid, and point out how unusual it is that he’s been willing to sacrifice a bigger paycheck by remaining with the team. Brady signed a two-year, $41 million contract in 2018, making him a free agent again in 2020. Nice to Know: The agent for the first 2018 draft pick, Baker Mayfield, would like for all of us to know that the New England Patriots were going to trade up to acquire the quarterback if he fell to number two in the first round. Our Sports Desk brushes this away as BS from an agent trying to polish his client’s image after press reviews deeming this a questionable first pick by the Cleveland Browns. Says our Executive Sports Editor: “The Patriots NEVER trade up.” Extra credit: Tight end Jason Witten announced his retirement this week after 15 years with the Dallas Cowboys. His record makes him likely to be a first ballot entry into the NFL Hall of Fame. He’s joining the broadcast booth for the 2018-19 season.
The NHL playoffs are still going on – it’s down to eight teams. You should follow this if you have hockey fans in your life, or if you live in one of these cities: Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Tampa, Boston, Las Vegas, San Jose, Winnipeg, or Nashville.
That’s it. You’re good to go. See you next week.