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TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk July 1, 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 if you want to know how to talk about sports. Game on.

We begin this week with the earth-shaking NBA news that LeBron James has exercised his option to become a free agent. Late Sunday night he announced that he has signed a 4-year deal worth $154 million with the LA Lakers. Sorry, Cleveland. Once again, LeBron is gone.

Meanwhile, as the start of this year’s Wimbledon tournament approaches (it begins on July 2), we’re giving a tip of the hat to Roger Federer, who won his first championship at the All England Club 20 years ago this week. Bravo, and good luck this year, man. In other Wimbledon news, two-time champ Andy Murray announced his withdrawal citing a hip injury. And 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams has been seeded No. 25, an acknowledgement of both her prior achievements and her maternity leave — she’ll face No. 105, Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, in the first round. In an InStyle interview published this week, Williams said that if she has a second child, she’s not sure that she’ll return to pro tennis afterward.

For Those Who Do Not Follow Professional Sports, here’s what you need to know this week.

3 for the week of July 1, 2018:

1. An AL East season for the record books. Must know: The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox had an epic three-game divisional show-down this weekend in New York (the Yanks clinched it by winning the first and third games; the Sox won the second one). All three match-ups were dramatic and lop-sided: the final scores were 8-1; 11-0; and 11-1. Wow. As we’ve been reporting, the teams have been within 2 games of each other for the last month. They entered this series 3-3, with each team sweeping the other at home. Don’t forget, they’ve had two bench-clearing brawls in the past 12 months. There is zero love lost between these teams. Which makes for a great competition. They meet again in a month. Nice to know: It’s eerie how evenly-matched the two are, and how historic this rivalry has become. The last time that two MLB teams with a 66.7% win percentage met each other on the field was in 1954, when the Yanks played the Cleveland Indians. Both teams have rookie managers; both have players who were runners-up for MVP last year (Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts); both have great rookies and/or young players (Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres for the Yanks, and Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers for the Sox). They both have Cy Young-winning starting pitchers; and both teams are on track to win over 105 games this season. They’ll meet again 13 times before the end of the season – with 3 of those games on the last weekend of regular season. Get your tickets now! Extra Credit: Good news! Adorable and crazy-talented 23-year old LA Angels super-rookie pitcher and hitter Shohei “Baby Ruth” Ohtani is back! He’s been cleared to resume play after an injury that threatened to bench him for the rest of this season and into ’19. Be careful out there, dude. Bonus Round: As the New York Mets continue to sink in the standings, our Sports Desk says to expect to see former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow called up from the minors to play baseball at Citifield: “not for his baseball skills, but to put bums in the seats.” We’d go to see him play – why not? You gotta give it up for someone working that hard to reinvent themselves.

2. NBA Free Agency Frenzy. Must know: Now that LeBron James is going to be a Laker, the remaining question on the minds of NBA fans is who else may join Magic Johnson’s LA team. Will it become a “super team?” Nice to know: Despite the rumors that he might join the Lakers in his hometown, Paul George has decided to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Reports are that he really enjoys playing with teammate, style icon and 2016 MVP Russell Westbrook. Kawhi Leonard could be another piece of the Lakers puzzle, but that would require a trade from their division rival the San Antonio Spurs. Which may not happen. There’s an unsubstantiated rumor that LeBron tried to lure Kevin Durant away from the Golden State Warriors to the Lakers to play with him. Watch this space for updates. Extra credit: For the first time in eight years, a team without LeBron James has a chance at winning the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors will have a fresh outlook, and the rising star Philadelphia 76ers are surely also keen to fill the vacuum just created by LeBron’s move to the West.

3. World Cup upsets galore. Must know: The World Cup had already seen a number of upsets heading into the Round of 16, but this weekend there were several more stunning defeats. Defending champ Germany is out, after losing first to Mexico and then Japan. And on Sunday, Russia upset SpainNice to know: Star player Messi and Team Argentina never really found a groove, and they’re out having lost to France. More distressing for us, superstar player Ronaldo and Team Portugal are also out after a loss to Uruguay. Ugh! He was the only reason we were paying attention to this thing! Extra Credit: From here on in, it’s single-elimination in this tournament (it’s called the “Knockout Round”), which makes it lot more exciting (and easier to understand). Brazil meets underdog Mexico today.

If you’re craving NFL news, the headlines of the week are that New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins’ brother has been arrested for the slaying of a family acquaintance in Jenkins’ New Jersey home. As expected, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has accepted a 3-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy for allegedly groping an Uber driver. Some fans are saying that the NFL’s disciplinary decisions seem to be totally arbitrary, and that this should have been a 6-game suspension, which is what Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott received for a similar infraction last season.

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

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