TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is our weekly recap of what you need to know this week to join the conversation about sports. Read it and get in the game.
We begin this week with tennis. The US Open kicks off at Flushing Meadows, Queens this Monday, and the mood in New York is joyous as the tournament celebrates its 50th birthday. It’s a beloved ritual for many to take in a game or two, and the stars will all be out for this tournament. Plus, the new Louis Armstrong Stadium makes its debut. It’s the culmination of a $600 million renovation of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center that began in 2011.
Here’s what you need to know: Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the final of the Cincinnati Masters last week. Djokovic is the current favorite to win the US Open – in yesterday’s draw, he and Federer landed in the same quarter-final, which is not what Federer was hoping for. Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray will also be in the hunt at the Open. On the women’s side, Serena Williams is the favorite to win – if she does, it will be her 7th US Open title, and her 24th Grand Slam win. Go, Serena, go!
For Those Who Do Not Avidly Follow Professional Sports, here are the 3 other headlines you need to know for the week of August 26, 2018:
1. NCAA college football news. Must know: The season starts next week, over the long Labor Day weekend. Nice to know: Heading into the season, Alabama is ranked number one and Clemson number two. At the end of last season, Alabama won its fifth national championship in the last 10 years with an overtime victory over SEC rival Georgia, 26-23. Extra credit: Urban Meyer, the head coach at Ohio State, has been suspended for 3 games for mishandling domestic abuse allegations against his assistant coach, Zach Smith. Meyer worked with Smith in Florida, and also hired him when he moved to Ohio State, despite knowledge of the accusations. This week, we learned that Smith is the grandson of a former Ohio State coach who was an important career mentor to Meyer, possibly explaining why he made the decisions he did. The Ohio State Athletic Director was also suspended for 3 games. These brief suspensions are viewed by many as a slap on the wrist, and while the university and the NCAA clearly hope this closes the issue, it may not.
2. National Football League (NFL) News. Must know: It’s officially time to start paying attention to the NFL. This is considered the real “first” week of the preseason – even though it’s actually week 3 – because for the first time, the starters play during the first half of the games. Nice to know: The marquee game this week was on Friday night, when the New York Giants beat the New York Jets, 22-16. Keep an eye on these teams, as the two will be compared and discussed for years to come. In this year’s draft, the Giants passed on arguably the best eligible quarterback, Sam Darnold, who could have been a successor to current starting QB Eli Manning and instead chose the “best athlete,” Saquon Barkley. The Giants’ strategy is to make a Super Bowl run with what should now be a high-powered offense. The key question is whether QB Manning has enough juice left to make that happen. Meanwhile, fans are keen to see who Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles names as starting QB: he’s choosing between Darnold, Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, and this weekend he said he’s pleased with Darnold’s preseason performance (Darnold threw a touchdown in his New York City debut). Extra credit: The New England Patriots lost to the Carolina Panthers on Friday night, 14-25. And the 1 – 31 (over the last 2 seasons) Cleveland Browns shut out the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The final score was 0-5, but still. QB Nick Foles played miserably, causing members of Patriots Nation to ask: Where was that Foles when they played the Patriots in the Super Bowl last year? Yeah, it still hurts. We’re not over it yet. The Eagles are 0-3 in the preseason, and their first-team offense has yet to score a touchdown. Just sayin’.
3. Major League Baseball (MLB) Latest. Must know: This was a reasonably quiet week in the MLB. The Boston Red Sox have hit a rough patch, losing 6 of their last 10 games; despite that, they’re still up 7 games in the AL East as of this posting. The Cleveland Indians are looking strong to take the AL Central title – they’re 12 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins. Nice to know: The New York Yankees seem to be snake-bit: they’re suffering from a series of player injuries that may cost them in the postseason. Slugger Aaron Judge is still recovering from an injury that’s taking longer to heal than expected; catcher Gary Sánchez is also still hurt. Both shortstop Didi Gregorius and pitcher Aroldis Chapman went on the disabled list this week. Meanwhile, slugger Giancarlo Stanton is still stuck on home run number 299. But the Yanks had a good weekend, sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in a double-header yesterday and pulling to 7 games behind their arch-rivals the Boston Red Sox. Extra Credit: Here’s a fun fact to drop casually into the sports conversation this week: Babe Ruth hit home run number 700 on Friday the 13th in July 1934.
The world will be introduced to pay-per-view golf for the first time this coming Thanksgiving weekend. Tiger Woods will meet Phil Michelson on November 23rd in Las Vegas for “The Match,” with the winner receiving a $9 million purse. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the trash talk has already commenced, with Michelson taunting on ESPN that “this is the easiest $9 million I will ever make.” And you thought last year’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight was the ultimate. Those golf dudes are fierce.
Finally, speaking of fierce, let’s close on this inspiring note about a tough female at the top of her game. Just seven months into her professional wrestling career, mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey defeated Alexa Bliss to become the new Raw women’s champion. That makes her the first woman in history to hold titles in both the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
That’s it. You’re good to go. See you next week.
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